How to Stop Speedrunning Your Relationships

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Today, we’re exploring social situations with Daniel Wendler, a social skill contributor for Take This and author of Visit Take This Org to find out more about the organization and how you can get involved.

Gone Home is a work of art.

It tells the story of a young woman who arrives home and finds it deserted. You guide her as she explores her abandoned house, and pieces together the story of what happened to her family. Polygon awarded the game a perfect 10, and the coveted Game of the Year award.

It’s gorgeous, immersive, and deeply moving. If you take the time to deeply explore every nook and cranny of the house, you’ll be richly rewarded with a story that stays with you long after the credits roll.

Or, you can speed run it in about 90 seconds.

Grab the first key, go to a secret room, grab the second key, go to the last room, win the game. Easy.

Of course, you miss the story, the emotion, and the deep immersion. In other words, you’ve missed everything that makes Gone Home, Gone Home.

It’s a fun challenge, of course. But if all you ever do is speedrun, you missed the point.

Don’t Speedrun Your Friendships

A friendship should be like playing Gone Home. Gone Home is a game of exploration, where your curiosity is gradually rewarded by learning more and more about your lost family. The more time you spend looking for clues, the more you’ll discover.

Friendship is a game of exploration too. If your friends see that you want to get to know them, they’ll start to open up to you. The more you show a genuine interest in them, the more they’ll share.

Ask them how they’re doing, and they’ll tell you. Show interest in their past and they’ll tell you stories. Earn their trust and they’ll share their deep fears and dreams. Give it time, and they’ll start showing genuine interest in you, too.

But you have to ask. You have to show interest. You have to let them know that you care.

And most people don’t. Most people “speedrun” their conversations. This is what someone speedrunning a conversation looks like:

Speedrunning a Conversation

  • Instead of showing curiosity in the other person’s life, they only talk about themselves.
  • Instead of picking meaningful topics, they talk only about video games, sports or another hobby.
  • Instead of asking follow-up questions when someone shares something personal, they change the topic.
  • Instead of giving the other person their full attention, they look at their phone.

You can think of it this way:

Speedrunning a conversation is when you talk only about superficial things, and don’t show a genuine interest in the other person. You stop speedrunning when you give the other person your full attention, and show a genuine curiosity about their life. The easiest way to show this genuine curiosity is to ask questions about the person’s feelings, passions, or life experiences. For instance:

  • How are you feeling about the test that’s coming up this week? (feelings)
  • If you could do anything as a career, what would it be? (passions)
  • What did you do this summer? (life experiences?)

Note that most people will probably give a superficial answer the first time you ask a question like this, so you usually need to ask a follow-up question to show that you’re really interested. For instance:

  • You: “How are you feeling about the test that’s coming up this week?”
  • Them: “A little stressed, I guess.” (a superficial answer)
  • You: “What are you most stressed about?” (a follow up question that shows interest.)
  • Them: “Well, it’s the essay portion. I’m not a very good writer, so I feel….” (and they give a real answer).

Of course, speedrunning a conversation doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad friend. Everyone does it sometimes. But you’re not going to deepen your friendship unless you take the time to really get to know the other person.

Here’s an easy way to tell if you’re speedrunning a conversation. Ask yourself:

  • Is the other person telling me how they feel? (not just what they think.)
  • Is the other person telling me something important about them that I don’t know?
  • Is the other person talking about something they are truly passionate about?
  • Is the other person telling me a story from their life?

If the answer to all four of those questions is “No”, you’re probably speedrunning – and you should ask some questions to show interest in the other person.

Feature image credit: The Fullbright Company

Adapted from the book Level Up Your Social Life: The Gamer’s Guide To Social Success

Author Bio

Daniel Wendler, M.A. is a social skill contributor for Take This and author of and the books Improve Your Social Skills and Level Up Your Social Life. He writes about social skills because he used to be the kid sitting alone in the cafeteria and he wants to help everyone find a place to belong. He is pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology from George Fox University and he wrote a poem about his bed. He fervently believes that Bulbasaur will always be the best starter.

Take This is an informational organization. The resources we provide are for informational purposes only, and should not be used to replace the specialized training and professional judgment of a health care or mental health care professional. For more information about these resources, please visit our website.

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