A relationship is a game

A game is designed around a purpose – a reason for playing the game.

June 18, 2017

In a newsletter a few years ago, we suggested that a relationship can be viewed as a game that is being played. While sometimes it may not feel like your relationship is a game, it nonetheless has all the attributes of a game. Like a game:

1. You are in it to gain something, to produce an outcome or set of outcomes for yourself, to attain goals;

2. Another or others are in it with you (either for you or against you);

3. There are rules and agreements that shape your actions and behaviors in attaining your goals;

4. A relationship takes place in many different, and yet specific, places;

5. It starts at some moment and ends at some moment (although the memory of it may linger);

6. There are often obstacles in the way of attaining your goals;

7. You devise strategies and tactics to overcome the obstacles and attain your goals;

8. And it’s quite possible to fail, to “lose” the game.

Now, we assert that most relationships are destined to become ordinary and repetitive games, because they default to two ordinary types of goals:

1. The first is the perpetuation of each individual’s point of view (each individual’s identity as an individual) through whatever means, which leads to the manipulation, domination and/or control of the other; and

2. The second is the accumulation of what each individual wants, so as to have all of it, all the time, everywhere and forever (or at least for the lifetime of the individual), which is ultimately a fantasy that cannot be attained in reality, and therefore leads to disappointment and upset.

A game is designed around a purpose – a reason for playing the game. By default, survival and accumulation are the most valued reasons for entering a relationship – any relationship. And the default goal in the ordinary relationship game is winning, coming out on top – i.e. being the better or best and having more or the most.

To create an extraordinary relationship, to add a new game into your repertoire of old games, requires that you let go of your attachment to your automatic survival and accumulation games. The key word here is “attachment”. Playing the default games consciously can be fun, and even satisfying. However being attached to those games precludes having the freedom to create a relationship anew, to invent new games.

When you discover yourself being attached to your point of view (and having to have your way) and you let go of that attachment, the possibility of a new game can be seen – a “new” relationship can emerge.

Then, together, you can identify shared values, create a new purpose, and create some new kinds of goals. You can have new games to play – and a new and extraordinary relationship!

It is our view that what you really want – and can have – is the profound experience of being related.

With our love and best wishes,


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