Or how I became a gamer wife.
Way back in the dawn of time (or about 9 years ago), I started going to larps. There I was besieged by a bunch of guys whose behaviour I can only really describe as treating me like fresh meat. I was young, a woman, and single. A lot of men, whether in relationships or not, would hover over me in a proprietary fashion. Trying to recruit me to their circle of friends. Trying to recruit me to their beds. Some were subtle, some considerably less so.
Most of this was just the standard flirting when a new person enters a large social group. Some of it was a little creepy. But, after about a month, I’d started seriously flirting with then going out with the man who would later become my spouse. Once this started, two things happened.
The first was that the flirting dropped off rapidly but not entirely. I was clearly “taken” but there was still some residual flirting from guys who assumed that my relationship didn’t matter. I was a young woman trying to play games. That means that I must be available, right? Especially if I went anywhere without my significant other!
The second major change was that a bunch of guys felt a need to warn me about my spouse. To offer their services in case of a break-up. To protect me if something bad happened. These offers came from guys I barely knew, guys who were married, single guys, guys who knew me well enough to know that I could take care of myself. I was clearly defenseless against my boyfriend and everyone seemed to believe that I was going to be badly hurt. Now, this was mostly because of their views of him as a philanderer and rake. A womanizer. I had no chance, in their eyes, of emerging from this without being heartbroken and used.
I was still a woman who needed to be protected and coveted first, then a gamer.
Time went on and eventually people adjusted to the idea that I was not their flirt toy. Sure, I was flirty, but I became a safe flirt. I was a woman with whom they could chat with, laugh with and generally not expect things to become “weird”. I was a gamer’s wife. Some guys used the excuse that I was in a relationship and “safe” to give me unwanted hugs and affection without upsetting their own partners. There are still people who I can’t bear having touch me because they would give me unsolicited hugs.
Now that I was properly off the market, I was no longer someone whose opinion was as keenly sought after. Why bother listening to her when you don’t have a shot of sleeping with her? If you were still listening to me and engaging with me as a person, you clearly were angling for sex. Guys who spent a lot of time talking with me back then told me years later that “we had a connection” and that “there was serious chemistry” between us. Which, apparently, I was not privy to. I felt no sexual flare with those men. My willingness to talk with them, however, was clearly an indication of sexual interest, I guess?
Of course, this also meant that some of the more shy guys, or those who were uninterested, would actually talk to me now. Because if I was off the market there would be no confusion! You could talk to me safely without worrying that I would start coming on to them. And women who were in relationships suddenly warmed to me. I assume because I was no longer at risk of stealing their men. Single women treated me the same as before or with the occasional flares of jealousy because they were interested in my spouse.
Finally, there were those who treated me the same as everyone else. You could see the way that I moved into a different mental box for many of these people but, for many, that didn’t really matter. Overall, however, attitudes quietly shifted and I haven’t been treated the same since. I don’t regret losing some of the flirting. I don’t regret those women now seeing me as less of a threat and those guys who didn’t want me to get the wrong impression. I have people who I like hanging out with and who like hanging out with me.
All of these shifting attitudes also resulted in impacts at the gaming table. I’m sure there would have been other problems if I’d stayed single. Or if I’d broken up with my future spouse and re-entered the dating pool. Those are futures I have no knowledge about so I can’t speak to them. All I can say is that attitudes changed, and while I wasn’t very aware of them at the time, they started to change in ways that affected my ability to game.
I moved from being a sought object of desire to a taken wife and I was given new-found roles and responsibilities, which will be the focus of the next part of the series. Because you don’t get to switch a character class without having to deal with changes in perceived duties.