1. They are banned from playing specific games. Their family refuses to play Catch Phrase with them because they cannot be trusted to gently pass the device after their turn. In the heat of the moment, they get caught up in the game and suddenly fingers are being jammed and faces are accidentally being hit with hard objects. True story, we returned to family weekend at my grandfather’s house one year to find that he’d planted a tree in the middle of the space in his yard we used to use as a volleyball court, it was his silent sign that if our families couldn’t get along while playing — we weren’t allowed to play.
2. You’ve gotten in multiple non-serious arguments about how competitive they are. They can’t decide if they’re offended when you tell them how competitive they are, or if they want to give in and own it and brag about being the most competitive person they know.
3. The phrase “it’s just a game” means nothing to them. Even if they remind themselves that it’s just a game, the minute they start playing they lose themselves in the competition. They LIVE for the thrill of a good victory, there’s no keeping a straight head on their shoulders when that’s on the line.
4. You can get them to do literally anything by making it a challenge. They might not be interested in going to a painting class with you… until you wonder aloud whether they’re just worried your art is going to be cuter than theirs. You quickly discover how adventurous they really are — as long as there’s a potential for bragging rights at the end of the activity.
5. You avoid playing partner games with them, unless it’s something you’re really good at. There’s no worse feeling than knowing how important it is to them that they win, and being the one that holds them back. It’s great when you can work as a team and dominate, but it really sucks when you know that’s not going to happen.
6. It’s understood that all’s fair in love and game night. As much as they love healthy competition, they thrive on trash talk, and you’ve learned not only how to let it roll off your back — but how to give it right back to them.
7. They’re secretly adorable in their single-minded desire to win — but you avoid telling them this at all costs. Their head is big enough, you don’t need to feed the beast.