Thus it begins! The first, previously announced post series on the SnW blog, is ready for liftoff. I hope you find something useful in the series which should spread over the next eightish weeks. No one piece of advice can be applicable to all larping couples, but I wanted to share a couple of tiny insights I’ve accumulated during my three years larping with the co-alpha.
Larping with your partner, s.o., fiancée, spouse, boyfriend/grifriend etc. is a topic that I strongly feel should be explored into more detail than my larper groups do. There’s a ton of couples that larp together, at least among the people the co-alpha and I (a couple, you know) larp with, and to put it plainly – our relationships couldn’t differ more even if we tried. Still, some things are common – issues as well as benefits. Consider this a roundup of things I’ve noticed in play – and by all means, send any and all comments or suggestions for further posts in the series to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that with this I have no intention to hint that your relationship consists of only two people. When I say “partner”, feel free to apply it to anyone you’re romantically involved with and with whom you’re gonna larp. Also, you can take this post as an intro, or a regular part of the series – and yes, I did put it first for a reason.
#1 Relationship before larp. Whatever you do, wherever you go, whoever you play with, regardless of how deep you wanna roleplay or what you want to experience – your relationship must come first. I’m certain you don’t need an advice list to tell you that, but just – let’s state the obvious things first, okay?
#2 Larping can be heavy. There’s no way to play if you can’t trust each other to do the right thing – both for yourselves and for each other. Be ready for involving scenes, be ready for the adrenaline, and do your best not to hurt each other in the process. Sure, not everyone’s style of play consists of high immersion or heavy bleed, but when you larp with your s.o., the risk doubles. Just be aware that, sometimes, you’re gonna be responsible for not one, but two sets of human emotions – and we all know how hard that can be.
#3 Know what you want – and what your partner wants. Sometimes you’re going to want to take different things out of the same game, and you might be in for a surprise if you don’t communicate your ideas clearly to each other beforehand. The same thing applies both here and in other areas of larping as a couple – when in doubt, ask. Assumptions can be the death of an experience – especially if you assume wrong things, which happens often enough in everyday life. You and your partner might not even share the same style of playing, and there’s no need to ruin a game for yourselves just by not talking about it earlier.
#4 It’s a social game, so be ready to interact with others, and for all the joys and pains it brings. If you have problems with others as a couple, try to solve them before you go larping together. Jealousy and mixed signals among friends can explode (or implode) among co-players, especially since larping gives us an opportunity to express parts of us which have no place in our everyday lives. Some of the faces you see around you at a briefing before going ingame will become people who get to see you when you’re at your best and at your worst. They may also become the only people who will understand when something goes wrong ingame between you and your partner – being larpers and all. They might also get to know you better than your own family, and might occasionally share their own advice and wisdom regarding stuff that is basically private. Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the social aspect of larping.
#5 Don’t allow yourself to think that larp will solve your problems – but try not to let it create to many new ones, either. Stuff goes in and stuff goes out of the game, and some things are really better left out altogether. Sure, larping can be used as part of therapy, or as a means for self-realization, but if you come to depend on larping as a way to solve your very real-life relationship problems, you will only hurt play, be it for you, your partner or your co-players. Working on your relationship out of the game should come first – and stay out of the game as much as it can.
#6 Never underestimate the power of offgame time – and trust a larper who had to learn it from her own, heavy mistakes. Define together which scenes and/or stuff might prove difficult for one of you and be aware, in play, of those things. Use safewords when necessary, since sometimes you can’t talk straight when involved in an emotionally deeper scene. (Trust a former Blade on this.) Never forget #1, and never put the excitement of a game before your own or your partner’s well being. Sometimes all it takes to get away from a bad or overwhelming feeling in the middle of a game is to step back and talk through for a second with a person who cares for you.
#7 Do what works for your relationship. Everything I’ll say about larping as a couple from now on relies heavily on trust between the members of a relationship – so make sure not to take the trust you share for granted. But it’s even more important to find out, adjust and use methods which work best for your relationship. There will always be things others will not understand – the co-alpha and I’s sometimes spectacular shared PLD, for instance – and in the end it will all come down to you. Some couples will never play separate characters – a thing I tackle later in the series – and others will barely nod to one another during games. Some things you have to find out yourselves – usually, unfortunately, through trial and error. But I truly believe it’s all manageable – as long as you take #1 to heart.
In other news, the next post of Larping for Couples goes live this Saturday. In it, we’ll talk a bit about why talking is serious business when larping with your s.o., and why it’s even more important to communicate openly with your partner when you commit larping together, apart from “just” sharing your life. Feedback is much appreciated – from couples and non-couples alike. Want to make sure I cover everything in this series? Drop me a note!