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Drama Mamas: The case of the PvE wife and PvP husband

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Next week will be another results edition of Drama Mamas. But there is still time to email us. If you have written the Drama Mamas and we have answered you in print, please send us an update at robin@wowinsider.com. We would love to know how your WoW dilemma worked out!
Dear Drama mamas,

I've been a longtime wow player and I almost exclusively pve, while my husband only enjoys pvp. I've tried without success to get him to try raiding, and have given up on that. Instead I found an awesome guild and I love raiding with them a couple nights a week.
He is getting tired of the same old random BGs and wants to do arenas with me. This might sound silly but arena gives me extreme anxiety and after 10 or so matches I almost burst out in tears. I've told my husband over and over to join a pvp guild or find a different arena partner, but he's very shy and says he doesn't feel comfortable talking or making friends with people he's never met in RL. He only wants to do arenas with me.

I feel so horribly guilty telling him that I don't want to do arenas, and I'd feel even guiltier if he quit the game over it. Yet I just can't bring myself to enjoy or even tolerate competitive pvp. What should I do? Should I just say no and deal with the consequences?

Thanks,
Distressed arena partner

Drama Mama Robin: Your anxiety about Arenas is not silly at all. Get that out of your head. /wags finger Participating in random Battlegrounds and competing in Arenas are two completely different levels of PvP. Battlegrounds are like bowling with friends. You want to do well, but it's OK if you make mistakes and any losses you have at one point don't carry to the next outing. Arenas are like bowling in a league. If you make a mistake, you let your team down. Your losses affect your rating. The stress level is much greater.

Feeling anxiety about participating in something you don't like at a competitive level is completely normal.

Now, there are things in this situation that I do find if not silly then bothersome. Let's go over the facts:
  • You like raiding.
  • Your husband likes PvP.
  • You don't like PvP in general.
  • Your husband doesn't like PvE in general and raiding specifically.
  • You get severe anxiety over playing in Arenas.
  • Your husband has in-game social anxiety, preventing him from wanting to get a partner he doesn't know in the physical world.
  • You have tried to be his Arena partner, despite your anxiety.
  • Your husband has not even tried raiding.
  • You are happy raiding with your guild.
  • Your husband has stated the only thing he wants to do in WoW is participate in Arenas with you, and you only.
Why has he not even tried to interest himself in your activity but expects you to actively participate in his? Why is his anxiety more important than yours? I did a small informal poll recently and discovered that a generalization about women was more true than I thought (or hoped). Many women will not reveal their true feelings about some things but expect their significant others to figure it out and get upset when they don't. Have you expressed your extreme anxiety over Arenas to your husband? If you haven't, do so immediately. The two of you cannot come up with a solution unless you both know all the facts.

If you have informed your husband about your Arena anxiety and he is dismissing it as not important -- well, you have bigger problems than just your PvE vs. PvP differences. You consider his online social anxiety valid, and he should reciprocate. But even if you didn't fear competitive PvP, your dislike of it should be enough. Just as you gave up on getting him to raid because he didn't like it, he shouldn't guilt you into PvPing for the same reason.

I've given you too many shoulds and not enough solutions. Tell him you wish to continue raiding but are not willing to participate in Arenas -- just as he is unwilling to raid with you. Offer to help him find an in-game partner (perhaps from your guild) that he'd be willing to play with. If he still insists he will only Arena with you, then please do not feel guilty about his leaving WoW. If he's not having fun anymore, he shouldn't be playing it. Neither of you should be spending your leisure time doing something you don't like.

Save your guilt for important things like finishing up the Nutella and not putting it on the grocery list. Now that is something to feel guilty about.

Drama Mama Lisa: Don't neglect the possibility of a compromise or even new alternatives here. No need for an overinflated mix of metaphors to hit my point this week. Let's get right down to the trusty bullet list.
  • Try the Raid Finder -- together. No, it ain't traditional, guild- or team-centered raiding with all the camaraderie that entails ... but it can be fun, too, and it's a step in that direction.
  • Does your husband know anyone who'd be willing to do some casual War Games with the two of you? No numbers, no ratings ... no pressure.
  • How about an entirely fresh idea altogether? It was only just last month that we advised reader LFG on how to find new in-game buddies and new activities. I think you've got the buddy -- now all you need is a fresh way to attack the game you can both feel excited about.
  • Cheat -- not on each other, but on World of Warcraft itself. What you need is a breath of fresh air. You might not be willing to plunk down the money for two games and two subscriptions for a commitment as large as Star Wars: The Old Republic, but so many great MMOs have gone free-to-play lately that anyone who claims they can't find something else worth trying isn't trying themselves.
My strongest recommendation, though, is simply time off from gaming. A vacation from gaming could give each of you the buffer zone you need to relax your death grips on individual attachments and fears about various parts of the game. It'll also give you the space you need to build excitement for a new joint venture. Agree on a few weeks off to explore other parts of your life and relationship, and then see what tickles your fancy when it's time to return. Let us know what develops -- maybe we'll see you there, wherever that "there" may be!

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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