Archive for the ‘Relationship Games’ Category

Don’t Play Games at the Games

March 2, 2010

iwona kellie / Flickr

Well by the time you read this the 2010 Olympic Winter Games will have just ended and we will be taking stock of how they impacted us, our city and our little corner of the world.

Regardless of whether you were for or against the Olympics, stayed in Vancouver or left town, felt joyful or disgusted by them, I propose we all sit back and take stock of what games mean to us, and how we play them – often capturing Gold medals of our very own.

Let’s get real, most of us play games. And the games we play we are really good at, maybe even the best in our discipline.

The events include being passive and aggressive, just aggressive, just passive, distant and withdrawn, or just plain difficult to be around.

Why do we do this? It’s not for a medal. Last time I checked the medals were nowhere as breathtaking as the ones Corrine Hunt and Omer Arbel designed for 2010 (if you haven’t checked these out you must, they are the definition of stunning).

Oh no, the medals most of us win come wrapped in a big fat discouraging box of blame and criticism.

But why you might ask? So glad you asked! Here’s what I think…..

I think we are creatures that are dominated by two things: Our feelings, especially hurt feelings, and even more, really hurt feelings. And the other thing is that we always want to be the ONE. You know what I mean, the ONE to be right, adored, supported, the list goes on. Problem is, our partner wants the same thing too!!

Herein lies the problem, both people want to be the ONE. Let the games begin.

It’s the same old story: the silent treatment; pretending everything is ok when it’s not; pretending to listen when clearly there is no listening happening; being polite yet seething with anger. There are lots more events at these games but I’m sure you get the picture.

When I play games the way I know, I’m not being totally honest with myself or my partner and I start having a lot of conversations in my head. When I do this, what I am really doing is making up stories which likely aren’t true. If I’m aiming for a gold medal, I am not going to give away my strategy, which basically means not being honest about what is going on.

adrian 8_8 / Flickr

Is this making any sense? I hope you can relate because it’s very difficult to be in a relationship and not play games. It’s how we protect ourselves from being hurt.

Recently, I learned a unique way that one couple has been turning this around…

I’ve been working with this couple for awhile now. They attended a “Getting the Love You Want” workshop last year and were doing quite well. Alas, after a time, they found themselves replaying their old dynamic. This is often the case for many of us.  They became discouraged and resorted to silence, distance and lots of reactivity. Quite by chance they began emailing each other to communicate their feelings and perspectives. Sometimes it is just too hard for folks to dialogue when the limbic system is highly activated. At these times, more distance and time are needed. Their emails became more frequent and they began understanding, even validating, each other through email. The tensions have settled and they have turned a positive corner.

This has got me thinking.

What a brilliant strategy this couple has found. They are beginning to change the games they’ve been playing for a long time. Taking time to calm the limbic brain, being intentional about what is being said and finding a way to validate your partner is key to any dialogue process. Emailing each other has seemed to lessen their reactions and now dialoging is easier for them. I believe it’s a bridge that helps you arrive at the next place (something Lawrence talks about in the workshop).

There are many different kinds of bridges. At this time, and for this couple, email is one of them. I like it!

Dare ya –

Think about your games. What are you really good at playing in your relationship? Identify it. Admit it at least to yourself and if you can, admit it to your partner. If not, make it a goal for the future. What’s really important is to CHANGE the way you are playing your game. Just do something different and see what happens!


-Keep it positive and be sweet, kind and loving.

-Your partner is not a bad person; he/she is trying to survive just like you.

-What you might see is really covering up deeper held feelings your partner can’t express.

-Mirror. It changes everything.