Is Pokémon Go Ruining your Relationship? Here's what You can Do about it

What's happening?

You don't need me to tell you that Pokémon Go came out this weekend and our country went mad. There was an epic number of people on city streets, all staring down at phones. In the overlapping worlds of virtual and real realities, people are capturing wild Pokémons and training them to fight in “gyms”.

Pros to Pokémon Go

There have certainly been some benefits to this social phenomena, with pockets of strangers turning into allies, crossing age divides, and strategizing around game secrets. It's likely boosting our economy, with businesses more frequented and phone chargers in greater demand. I also see it as an opportunity for people to leave the house and get fresh air. And, it encourages exercise: the greater the distance you go, the more items you can lock in.

Thrillest even joked about Pokémon Go being the new dating app:

And one person did get a date, while families talked about Pokémon Go giving them something to do together and connecting them.  

Cons to Pokémon Go

On the flip side, it didn't take long for there to be multiple concerns for public safety. There were numerous trespasses in parks and yards, and armed robberies of players preoccupied on their phones in broad daylight or lured to secluded places at night.

Playing Pokémon Go has caused both major car accidents and minor cuts and bruises. Road signs are encouraging people, “Don't Pokemon and Drive. ”The City of Miami Police posted a video educating parents on the potential dangers.

I can only imagine the list growing as we speak.

What about relationships?

The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed captured tweets of distressed individuals in relationships where Pokémon Go has taken precedence. The words “divorce” and “Pokémon Go” were lumped together, and had some asking for marriage counselors.

New York Mag showed similar tweets of men neglecting their relationships, and a dad catching a Pokémon while his wife is in labor.

Sure, some of these posts might be exaggerated, but Pokémon Go is causing rifts in relationships, regardless of whether lovers are competing or only one partner is hooked on the game.

What can you do about it?

First of all, if you're an individual playing and looking for tips on how to play responsibly, the LA County Sheriff's Department can speak more eloquently to that. 

However, if your relationship is impacted, here's my advice to you, in rough steps:

  • without jumping to end the relationship, have a sit down talk with your partner, phones on silent.
  • validate that this is an epic game that has America (and other parts of the world) going cuckoo and Nintendo stockholders really happy.
  • talk about how his tardiness or her lack of concern for your relationship is impacting you. “When you're an hour late coming home because you stopped by the park to catch Pokémons, that left me feeling really hurt.” 
  • speak to your needs of wanting to feel like you're important, loved, or that he's available to you. “It feels like Pokémon Go matters more than me and I want to count on you to be there for me.”
  • if both of you are playing, or both of you are in agreement for one to keep playing, talk about boundaries around that. “No trespassing to neighbor's yard at 2am,” or “set a timer on your phone to get off because it's time to pick me up.”
  • lastly, if the conversation above is too difficult and you truly need a marriage counselor, I'm here!

Note: There will be no Pokémon Go in my office.


Ada Pang, MS, LMFT is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond counseling practice in WA. She's a Licensed and Marriage Therapist and she loves helping committed couples who have grown apart find each other again. Should her husband decide to download the Pokémon Go app, she might have something to say about that. Her favorite Pokémon creature from way back when is Psyduck.