Dear CCN: Love Advice

Should you spend more time with your partner than you do logged into Skyrim?

K: If you’re in a relationship, essentially you should want to spend more time with your partner than you would a video game like Skyrim. Interpersonal interaction is more enjoyable in a relationship than solo video action. Time to yourself to zone out to a game, book, or television show is good for people’s personal mental health, but to prevent solo hobbies from becoming an issue, make sure your attention is on each other when you’re spending time together. Save gaming for when you have the time to take alone.

F: I used to play video games, but then I took a relationship to the knee. Alright, another girl ripping on the stuff guys like to do, how refreshing… What if your boyfriend said you should spend time with him playing Skyrim instead of watching Sex and the City, Grey’s Anatomy, or Twilight by yourself? Truth is, if he wasn’t playing video games — or watching sports, or whatever it is that you’re nagging him for — you would probably make him do something he considers lame or boring. Let the dude do what he enjoys doing and then make plans to do something you both enjoy together. Or maybe just dump him for a shiny vampire.

When you have doubts early in a relationship, when and how do you know  if it will last?

K: You can never really know how long anything will last early on in a relationship. Questioning certain things is normal, which is why sometimes you just have to let the relationship run its course as you get to know each other and spend time together. Focus on what you enjoy about being with the person and see if your doubts will fade. If not, trust your gut and consider not getting too deep before things get complicated and your doubts prove to be true.

F: What kind of doubts? Are you wondering if he has a secret family somewhere, or did he forget to put a smiley on a text message? Here’s the deal: relationships are not like the movie The Notebook; there are no moving speeches with slow, instrumental, corny music. There are, however, plenty of fights on who is supposed to do the dishes. Relationships can be hard, but at the end of the day it all comes down to a sentimental cost-benefit analysis: is all the effort you’re putting in the relationship worth it? It’s also very likely that he does have a secret family…

If someone is an emotionally private person, how do you make them open up?

K: People are private for a reason. Either their privacy was invaded or they once were open and then got hurt. For someone like this to open up, they have to feel comfortable with you and learn that you can be trusted, and that might take time. Other than being patient and understanding, lead them by example by sharing your own thoughts feelings to help ease them into that territory. Once they know they aren’t the only ones in a situation being vulnerable, they might not be as afraid.

F: I guess it’s too late to tell you to run, right? Kudos to you for your bravery. In my experience, girls like this have an emotional baggage that would not fit in the overhead bins of most relationship aircrafts. Yes, I compared her emotional trauma to luggage and your relationship to a plane. This is fun, let’s keep it going: you are the pilot, so it’s your job to show her that you know what you’re doing and that you can get her safely to the destination (wherever that is). Just make sure you keep a parachute handy, just in case.