The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Early on in my relationship with my boyfriend, I quickly learned two things; that we are both very introverted and both very nerdy. There was nothing wrong with that, except that it did cause some concern from both family and friends. Individually, we were already homebodies that opted to stay in and play video games rather than go out. It probably didn’t help that we continued to do that when we started dating and getting comfortable with each other.
In times where stressful events such as final’s week roll around, however, I have found that my boyfriend and I actually thrive playing different video games in the same room. He was able to get into playing Pokemon Arceus, Skyrim, and recently Elden Ring, while I was able to play Animal Crossing, Skyrim, and different games from the Legend of Zelda series. But, why does this work so well for us?
There is a term that actually describes and explains the effectiveness of this practice: parallel play. It originated from a study that focused on behavioral patterns in toddlers that played together. It was also part of a larger theory coined by sociologist Mildred Parten, who focused on childhood development through studying interactions. While this remains relevant today in children, many link the term to maintaining adult interpersonal relationships.
In my case, I find comfort in unwinding through playing video games next to my boyfriend. We established early on that we can find solace and companionship while silently being able to do different things, which is something that has ultimately benefited us in the long run. This has also given us the opportunity to share bits and pieces of what we are doing in-game, whether it be catching tarantulas or killing dragons. If either of us opt to do something else, we just pause and resume whenever we like.
The concept of parallel play is something that continues to benefit my romantic and other interpersonal relationships because it doesn’t confine me to sharing a task, rather it shows this sense of independence while coexisting with someone else. It’s definitely established a solid foundation for other relationships, and helped me learn about other people as I go. In turn, I hope that it also benefits other people in terms of learning the different ways to coexist in the same space, yet do individual tasks.