The Relationship Blog

Couples Therapy – The Difference Game People Play to Stay in Their Comfort Zones

I refer to the difference game as “The Game” , but I don’t regard that as a negative. Everything in life is a game and you really only have two choices. One choice is choosing what particular game you want to play, such as a victim game, or the drama game. And the second choice is who do you want to play it with? If you wanted to play the drama game and you select someone who is very passive and doesn’t like conflict, or intensity, then the game isn’t going to go too well. So you need to select someone who likes intensity, and will play the game with you. The key thing in playing the difference game is using the differences to prove that you’re better or less than somebody else, and to keep you on familiar grounds, and maintain the status quo in that relationship.

Why Do People Want To Play The Game?

Because the difference game allows you to stay on familiar ground. It doesn’t matter what people say, they like safety. And the safest thing is to stay on familiar ground, to stay with what you’re used to, and to stay in your comfort zone. The comfort zone will vary, however, from person to person. So you have to look at what’s familiar to each person. One person’s instability may not be a negative, it may be their familiar thing. They might lead their whole life from an unstable place, stability is beyond their comfort zone and would be a threat to their particular game. So they would want to select someone who would play the unstable game with them so they can stay on familiar ground.

There are several things you can do in life: moving forward, moving backward, moving against, moving up and moving down. A particular comfort zone for certain people is being fine with withdrawing, which would be moving backwards, and they are very comfortable with that. Other people can’t withdraw at all. For them to withdraw would be beyond their comfort zone. It’s the same thing with moving against. Some people do not have permission to say no to anything. So they are more pleasers and they would never do a movement of moving against. Since the goal is for you maintain the status quo and you stay safe, within your comfort zone any year of your relationship will probably look like all other years.

Author: Bruce Derman Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice for couples therapy in Woodland Hills and Los Angeles, California who specializes in working with people in all stages of relationships. You may reach Dr. Derman by calling (818) 375-7194.

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