Think back to any of your early romantic relationships. Pick one. Any one. I’ll bet there was a ton of Play happening?

  • Coming up with a nickname
  • Discovering a special place
  • Swapping cute cards or poems
  • Sharing songs, or maybe even playlists
  • Exploratory walks at the river or in the park
  • Inventing interesting rituals only the two of you shared
  • Starting and ending each day with a special emoji
  • Dreaming of a future together

All of those, and more, fall under the heading of Play.


Play is largely misunderstood by adults. We think of Play as something only children do, in places that have swings, loads of Lego, ball pits, or colouring in books. Of course that also falls under the heading of Play, but it’s not all that Play is. Play begins at birth and is easily and very compatible with old-age. My favourite definition of Play comes from Mark Rowlands:

“Play is activity whose goal is internal or intrinsic to it. In its pure form, play has no external purpose or reward.
We play just to play.
To play is to dedicate oneself cheerfully to the deed and not to any external goal; to the activity itself and not the outcome.”


Of course as time goes by, and your relationship gains some traction, you shift your focus and energy from whoo-ing the love of your life to that thing called LIFE. And as you know, LIFE requires a ton of focus and energy.

Sadly, Play is one of LIFE’S victims. It gently fades into the background. It’s not a terrible thing to let fade, because Play is hardwired into us. We can call on it any time we like. It’s always there, waiting like a puppy who’s desperate for you to throw a ball. However, we don’t often, if ever, call on it. LIFE is really important, filled with really important things that you dare not ignore.


I don’t have to ask you when the last time you did any of the list from above. I do and sell play for a living and it’s really difficult for me to steal time from LIFE so I can throw a ball with Play.

I’m tired of adding Playtime into my calendar. Why isn’t it that I need to add LIFEtime into my calendar? Something went wrong somewhere along the path to adulthood that has me (and maybe you) believing that LIFE trumps Play, when it definitely doesn’t.

When I think of my person. The person I most love. Or when I think of my people, the people I most love. It isn’t the busy-ness and importance of my LIFE that they wish they could have more of. It’s never been that, and it will never be that.

It’s Play. Simple, unassuming, basic Play. A new nickname, a new park, a new song, a fresh poem, a piece of art that I drew for you, a cup of coffee in a quaint place, a giggle at a greeting we invented, a sunset spent together, a finger painting we did together, a new dish we cooked, the Wordle challenge we had that month, the tour we took, the holiday we went on, and the list goes on and on and on.

LIFE is important. Very important. It pays the bills and gives your ego a stroke if you’re lucky. But it’s no substitute for Play when it comes to your special person!

Relationships are built through Play. They begin to degenerate when you ignore Play!