View Full Version : One Geek to Another - IC Relationships and OOC Pressure

10-05-2009, 04:07 AM
482Dear One Geek,

I have an In Character relationship with a fellow player. That is to say, their character and mine have a romantic (and sexual) relationship in the game we're playing. It's an aspect of the game I'm enjoying, and we always "fade to black" (saying things like "and they go and have their fun" and then picking the role play back up after the encounter) rather than detailing out our character's intimate interactions.

Lately, however, the other player has been trying to push that boundary to be Out of Character as well. I'm not interested in a "real life" relationship with this person, but I also don't want to cause huge issues with our gaming group or offend this person who I consider a friend.

How do I deal with that?

Keeping It In Character

Dear In Character,

The same sorts of intense and evocative experiences that make roleplay such a wonderful recreation also can lead to the temptation to recreate those kinds of emotions in a more "real life" setting. Your friend is not the first person to try to take In Character (IC) relationships Out of Character (OOC) with someone who isn't interested in extending the situation into real life.

The best way to handle the situation depends, in part, on how direct or subtle of pressure you're being given. If the "push" so far has been just mildly flirtatious, rather than overt, you've got a lot of options on how to react.

Your first action should be, of course, to be sure that you aren't giving the other person mixed messages. If you continue to flirt with them after the game is over, or if you engage in "I might be interested" type activities when you're not in character, you really need to either stop doing so, or at least clarify very succinctly what those signals do and don't mean outside of the game. It's unfair to anyone to put out "come hither" words or deeds when you're being you (not your characters) and then take exception to the fact that the person might interpret your actions as real life interest. It's not inappropriate to assume that a real time flirtation might equal real time interest.

That being said, if you are either being utterly platonic with them OOC, or have explained clearly that your friendly flirting is only flirting, you have several options on how to proceed to dissuade your admirer.

One way to deal with the situation discretely is to put a positive spin on the situation, while not acknowledging any potential pressure that has already been applied. This allows the other person to save face, but still gives them a clear statement of your feelings about the matter. After a good game, say something like:

"You know, I'm so glad that we're such good friends and can have these kind of IC relationships without any awkward OOC pressure. Because, that would be really uncomfortable, wouldn't it? Having someone put pressure on you in real life based on game interactions?"
Alternately, you could introduce a situation you've heard or read about (and you're hearing about it here, so it's not a fib) where someone made inappropriate assumptions about IC relationships meaning the person was interested in an OOC one by saying something like:

"I was reading online the other day, and this gamer was talking about how he/she was considering dropping out of his/her regular gaming group because one of the other gamers kept trying to take their character's relationship into real life. Isn't that horrible? I mean, that someone couldn't just enjoy the character interactions without thinking that it meant the other gamer was looking for a hook up? I'm so grateful that we're all more mature than that, here."
If your fellow gamer has half a clue, they'll take this kind of statement as the warning it is intended as.

Another way to deal with the "push" is to make a little joke out of it. Laughing, while holding up your hands in a "Back up" fashion and saying "Whoa up, I'm not (insert your character's name) and you're no (insert their character's name)" gives a humorous but clear message that you're not mistaking IC interactions for OOC ones, and you expect them not to, either.

If, however, none of these more indirect approaches work (or if you just prefer a more up-front angle) there are more clear avenues. I'm a firm advocate of no-drama, simple and straightforward conversation. The statements below (or those like them) are hard to misinterpret, and deal with the matter diplomatically but firmly.

"I really enjoy our roleplay interactions, but I wanted to reiterate to you that I'm not interested in a real life relationship with you." - This can be used at any time, to highlight your feelings about the matter.
"I'm sorry, I'm not interested in anything other than friendship with you." - This is a clear and concise response to an invitation (verbal or otherwise) to take your relationship into a more intimate arena.
"I get the feeling that our IC interaction is leading you to believe that I'm looking for something more than friendship OOC. Do we need to talk about that?" - By expressing this in an obviously concerned (rather than flirty) tone, you are likely going to make it clear that you're not interested, but if they want to discuss the matter further, you can go on to clarify your lack of interest in the conversation.
If they've already made overt invitations on dates, or attempted physical interactions (trying to hug or kiss you in ways you're not comfortable with) then a very straightforward approach, such as those above, is probably best.

If, however, they still refuse to take a clear "NO" for an answer, or if you're feeling physically intimidated by their attentions, you may want to consider either discussing the matter with the person who is organizing the game group and asking them to give the person an ultimatum ("Knock it off, or leave the group.") or considering leaving the group yourself. No recreational activity is worth putting yourself into a situation where your physical or emotional well-being is being put in danger.

Good Luck!

Have questions about how to handle a geeky situation? Need advice on social etiquette relating to games, movies, fan groups, conventions or other geek-ful settings? Send us an email (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/sendmessage.php?do=mailmember&u=9844) and your question may get answered in one of our future "One Geek to Another" columns!

For more information about your One Geek to Another hostess, check out Jess' website at: www.JessHartley.com (http://www.jesshartley.com/)

10-05-2009, 11:22 PM
If you have a GM you trust, make sure that you at least let them know you may be uncomfortable as well. They may be able to help and bring a fresh perspective... but this is only if you are real friends and trust them. If there's any awkwardness in a game, i as a GM, always want to know about it because in a sort of patriarchal (or matriarchal for you ladies out there) way i feel responsible for the players and the game setting and how that impacts their lives - i want to make sure it always stays positive and fun.

10-07-2009, 03:19 PM
I like a more straight up approach. Leave the subtle hinting crap for highschool. It does not work. I highly dislike the opinion that if he doesn't get it then he "Doesn't have a clue." I have ausburgers myself so I miss subtle social ques a lot so I found it offensive that anyone who misses sublte ques must be some kind of moron. In the future maybe you should take into account that not everyone gets ques so easily, jess.

10-07-2009, 03:41 PM
In the future maybe you should take into account that not everyone gets ques so easily, jess.

You mean, like where Jess suggested that if they didn't catch the more subtle clues to say something more direct like,

"I'm sorry, I'm not interested in anything other than friendship with you." - This is a clear and concise response to an invitation (verbal or otherwise) to take your relationship into a more intimate arena.

10-07-2009, 05:18 PM
I say tell your fellow player that everything needs to stay in the game. Period. It is not causing drama when someone says, "No, I don't like you in that way."

It is drama when someone goes, "In this game of make-believe me and OP have a relationship. I want a IRL relationship with OP. I know, I'll hit on them IRL and if they don't do what I want I'll cause drama since they refused me and "ruined" the solid RP; rather than reconize that my undue pressure to date is what spoiled the fun."

Boundries and respect, so very simple. In the game is in the game, and if someone brings it out of game - especially romantic entanglements - then they are the source of drama, not the person who refuses a romantic overture.

To put it another way: forcing one's romantic desires on another is wrong. If there is fallout because you don't succumb to unwanted advances, it is the other people who have the problem.

10-08-2009, 01:25 AM
That was some pretty good advice. I was going to put my two cents in, but I think you pretty much covered anything I might have said! LOL

Anyhow, on another note, it's nice to see that some people can have respectably managed in-game relationships. I once played with a group who all but insisted on "roleplaying" all the minutae and nuances involved with what would essentially be termed as hookups with other players and even NPCs. It became tiresome. I found myself suggestingthat perhaps we should stop playing and hit the bars, since that's where the game seemed to be going, but the hints were not followed. I had to quit the group eventually because it was just not how I wanted to spend my limited gaming hours... Sad thing? It was a group of adults! LOL

10-08-2009, 01:28 PM
You mean, like where Jess suggested that if they didn't catch the more subtle clues to say something more direct like,

And YET she still implied if they didn't get it that they were stupid. Sorry but that's a fail.

10-20-2009, 10:27 AM
I find it refreshing to have that IC interaction/relationship with another character. If it just so happens that a relationship does develop OOC or feelings toward the other person begin to surface, then it is quite difficult to decipher the line between where your character ends and you as a person begins.

Personally, I love romance and that sort of interaction in any sort of roleplay that I do, not just limited to D&D. I hardly ever cross the invisible barrier between IC and OOC. It's all in good fun, and if the players enjoy the interaction then there is no real need to push it into OOC unless I'm developing a 'crush' on the individual playing the character.

Though I completely would understand if the guy wasn't interested...I'm not the best looking girl. :D

My advice is to just be honest and up-front about your feelings, and if they are a good friend, they will understand, even if it will sting a bit if they are attracted to you OOC. Perhaps if you take the honest approach, the person will back off and respect your wishes. Who knows?