Most of us enjoy good-natured competition in our lives. I love to play cards, dominoes, board games, you name it. It’s supposed to be a fun activity to hang out with friends and family. But, some of my friends are so combative that they turn casual activities into all-out wars. I laugh off their explosive ways, but it’s getting to the point where they suck all the fun out of it. I have tried letting them win to keep them engaged, but then it turns into a cheeky “BOOYA” victory lap around the living room. How can I come to a compromise without being a party pooper?
-Hating the players, not the game
How we play with others begins in childhood. Those with feisty siblings or demanding parents can mold competition into a false sense of worth. An overbearing sports dad that wants you to win at all costs or a domineering brother that flips the game board at a devastating loss can make for unsportsmanlike behavior throughout life. It seems that you were taught to play a game, whereas your overzealous competitors were taught to win. The glory of a win is never worth tearing friendships apart, so perhaps refraining from game play with these poor sports is the answer. Or, try playing until you spy it losing its luster from the other side. Then suggest a break, stretch or call it quits without forcing completion. After a few times, you set an example that games can be fun without determining a winner. You may just have to accept the fact that some folks are just not gamers and find another pastime that you can all enjoy.
Over Thanksgiving, I met my boyfriend’s parents for the first time. We have been dating for two years and he didn’t seem interested in making the introduction until recently. I am estranged from my family, so I didn’t think it was that big of deal. The meeting was uncomfortable, to say the least. They interrogated me about my background and beliefs, ignoring the interruptions and defense from my boyfriend. They huffed and argued at my honest responses about my secular background, liberal political views and the fact that I am a single mother. After we left, my boyfriend apologized repeatedly for his family’s rude behavior. But I am left feeling sad and offended. Obviously, they don’t like me, but I can’t help but wonder if he sidelined the meeting because he was ashamed of me. How can I go on with this relationship knowing that his parents don’t approve?
-Met the Parents
Because of your own estrangement, your family’s endorsement is no longer needed. So why require the approval of someone else’s parents? Sure, it would be lovely if they welcomed you with open arms, but give them some time. Perhaps they have no experience with a godless, left-winged single mom and are reeling. Try to be patient and if you are feeling ambitious, send a note asking for another try. You will feel better taking the high road and demonstrating tolerance, if not acceptance. As for your boyfriend, it sounds like he tried to stop the witch hunt in your honor. You mention that this is the first meeting after two years of dating, so perhaps your boyfriend’s trepidation was to save you from his parent’s narrow-mindedness, rather than hiding you. Assuming that your beau knows about your beliefs and parenthood, he has loved you in spite, or even because of these traits. Case would wager that he is mortified by the actions of his parents and if he is embarrassed by anyone, it’s them.
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