What’s in an SL relationship?

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People fall in love in Second Life. Some stay couples, others become partners, and others yet choose to marry. What do the lovers of SL think about their relationships?

I meet BCreative Wilde on the day before her marriage. She stands in a gloomy graveyard, as they’ve chosen a Halloween wedding. “I’m a vampire here in SL, so what better time to celebrate our love,” Wilde asks. Floating over her head is a tag saying «Tempus <3».

“I’ve known Tempus for a long time. We were friends that eventually blossomed into more than I could ever have imagined.” She thinks their relationship will change now that they are married. “All relationships change, married or not, but I feel this will be a wonderful change. We share a deep love for each other,” Wilde says, adding that she would love him married or not. “But we both want to show our commitment to each other, and our bond in marriage will bring us closer.”

BCreative Wilde lives in the US, while Tempus lives in Norway. Next summer, Wilde plans to go to Norway, and their relationship will step into RL. “It’s kind of a RL relationship even though we haven’t met yet. We talk together via Skype every night for hours. He usually calls me every morning to wake me up for work, which is very sweet,” Wilde muses.

Hyde Hackl has a less romantic approach. “Me and Estelle have been together a long time, but only like friends in SL. We’re a couple, though, but I think it’s hard to say we’re sweethearts as SL is all kinda fictional. Although we live in the same country, I do not feel the urge to meet her in RL.” Hackl says she calls Estelle her love here in SL, but that’s where it stays.

Asked what Estelle means to her, Hackl answers: “I owe her a lot, and that’s why I call her my love. She’s dear to me as someone I know in RL, which I’ve known for a long time, and care deeply for. An SL girlfriend to me means a fictional character made by a real person, with real feelings, that has shown me the meaning of friendship – although via a computer.”

Victoria Baxter has a very special story. She met her old flame, her childhood love that she had lost touch with, here in SL. So now, they are together again. “We spoke, and connected quickly,” Baxter says. ”A few nights later I gave him my picture. He took one look and knew who I was. He was shocked and floored.”

Now they are married in-world. They still haven’t met in RL. To Baxter, the marriage is a symbol of their RL devotion to each other. “He asked to marry me in RL, and until that day comes, this was my way of accepting. It’s a pixelated engagement ring.”

Sheltered Heart and FallinMy Webb (pictured above) also has a very special story. They met in SL, and are now a married couple in RL. Heart tells their story: “We met one year and ten months ago. We became buddies, started to see each other more often, and work together. Then we started talking on Skype and regular phone.” Five months later, they decided he should come from Florida and meet her in Nova Scotia, Canada. But because of Canadian immigration laws, he wasn’t allowed to stay in the country. “Then we decided I’d come to Florida.”

Heart describes herself as the small town girl that never went anywhere. She has a daughter of 12 that stayed in Canada and finished school, while Heart hopped on a bus and rode all the way down to Florida. “I arrived two days later. Our first meeting was at a Greyhound station,” Heart says. They spent their first night in a hotel, and then got their apartment the next day. That was at the end of January. “In the beginning of July my daughter finally got to come, and we married August 25th.”

In Second Life, they became married on the 22nd of November last year. They think their SL marriage was what started to change things. “We think it improved our chances of making it. Getting to know each other so long before actually making a RL commitment was a blessing,” Webb says. Heart agrees: ”We even had those awkward little moments at first.”

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~ by theresecarfagno on November 29, 2007.

26 Responses to “What’s in an SL relationship?”

  1. Excellent article, Tess. In a small space, it shows the variety in SL relationships. I think they’re all interesting, but I’m truly fascinated by SL partnerships where the partners are devoted to each other, love each other in some way, but completely in SL, with no plans to meet in RL. My own SL marriage was like this, and I know for a fact that the emotions involved are real, but it’s a peculiar situation to be sure. Weird and wonderful, as we used to describe it.

    I’m so glad you’re writing more than I am. :)

  2. Hi Veronique, I’m so glad you liked it. I agree with you – I’d love an SL relationship if I knew we both agreed to keep it in there, and not confuse it with FL love. Working with this article is actually what got me thinking and writing about the issues in “Stepping into character” below.

  3. You have been tagged :-)

  4. As mentioned yesterday evening during the iceskating, my past experience is very different from those examples. I found romance three times (each time unplanend = not actively looking), and three times it ended in pain and misery. While I can attribute the first time to have been purposefully played with (and to a certain extent being ripped off), the second time showed me how fragile relationships in SL are. My partner vanished from the grid for almost 8 weeks with only one single short email in between, and those 8 weeks where simply too much time. At least we managed to revert back to “close friends”.
    The third time is the one hurting me most, since the subject of my affection (and actually of joint affection) was one of my oldest and longest friends in SL. And it ended really bad, with me being unfriended and muted and all objects returned, ejected from groups etc.
    My personal conclusion is that I stay clear from relationships in the future. My times of crisis have shown me the value of real friends (and I’m glad they showed up during that time), but what feelings, romance and also intimacy concerns, I’m taking a non-committing approach now. For me, SL should be a vacation, to divert me from RL and help me relax. In consequence, any relationships in SL should be nothing more like flirts during a vacation too. You might look forward to meet Julio or Evangelina again next year, but you don’t take them home to live the rest of your life with them. Maybe those past experiences made me a bit sarcastic and detached. Maybe I lost more than I realize now. But I did not need all that pain and hurting.

  5. Wow Peter … you really add to my story, and reminds us that love also can be one of the most gruesome things on earth. I completely understand your new approach. I could say love comes quickly and unexpected, whatever you do, but I don’t think you’ll listen to me … not yet, at least. Take care.

  6. I am a married man IRL, but not in SL. Now, I have met girls that will flirt with guys like me in order to show that all men are not to be trusted. I have had one such girl actually fall in love with me against her will in SL. I said, okay, who are you IRL? But then I was told never to try to find out. I just couldn´t accept that. I have since then actually myself fallen for a another woman in SL that is married in real life…boy, that complicates things! I have met many others in world that I wanted to befriend, but that seemed to hold a distance even though we enjoyed each others company a lot in SL. My conclusion from all of this is that starting a Second Life, really IS starting a second life.

  7. I would like to add to my what I´ve already said: Who can dance with a beautiful avaatr for more than two second without falling in love..married or not? Show me that avatar and I´ll show you an avatar that´s not for real :-)

  8. Ha ha, Apmel. I like what you say about real avatars. Apart from that, you too seem to be of the opinion – like many others here – that SL can be very complicated when it comes to the emotional stuff, and I so appreciate that you share your stories.

  9. I don’t know what the future holds for me and my Alpha, but SL has given me back that spark that reality had put out in me. It made me remember what it feels like to love without fear, and I do…every day that I reach out and My Alpha reaches back. Now do I love others…Of course I do…I have my own life, but this is the spark that keeps the flame burning. Someday my love….Someday. ~JJ~

  10. /me smiles happily

  11. Someone once told me that SL is where souls meet. Very profound description. I have had an experience in world that can not be explained. I met a lady whom I felt I had known all my life. I began to dream of her. One dream was of a video that she had watched the night of the dream. No way to explain that.

  12. […] sl ireports, address some of these points. The ” Everyday Second Life”  article “What’s in an Second Life Relationship?”  (11-29-07) tells the story of several second life couples. At the time of the interviews, the […]

  13. I met someone the second night I was in SL. We became friends and shared gains and losses of SL friendships and loves. I was hurt badly by an SL love and told him I was leaving the grid. He convinced me to stay. We began a romantic relationship shortly after. We met in RL, fell in love for real, and he proposed. I accepted. We were both already in the processes of getting divorced when we met in SL – so probably looking for love. It just happened to work out. He is truly the man of my dreams.

  14. Thank you for sharing, masonsorbet and RS. It’s nice to read that you’ve both met someone special in SL. And RS: That you’re now married. Wow.

  15. I guess I should add and update to this article. Tempus and I did meet in RL and it was wonderful. I was there for 3 weeks and our love grew more then I could ever imagine. I plan to spend Christmas and New Years in Norway with him. Oh yeah and one more exciting fact…. We got engaged when I was there this summer. I read a comment above that mentioned “SL is where souls meet” I believe it is where soulmates meet as well.

  16. Thank you so much for that, Bcreative – that’s truly wonderful news. You’re even engaged. I wish you and Tempus all the luck in the world.

  17. Go to the mirror, look yourself in the eye and ask:
    “Am I a human being in a sexually committed relationship with a keyboard & mouse”?
    If the answer is yes, I feel sorry for you.

  18. Really dickey ducrot, what an antiquated notion you have in this day and age. News Flash: The world is shrinking with the internet and people are finding love and friendships on dating and social sites and are able to stay in touch with friends and loved ones around the world with a click of their blackberry, pc, laptop, skype, phone – you name it! Second Life is just another platform that allows human beings to communicate, and do as humans do: form bonds.

    But if you think I am wrong and you are right, the next time you send a text, email, or letter to someone you love who is not physically with you, afterwards, please go to the mirror, look yourself in the eye, and ask: “Am I in love with my phone/laptop/pc or instead do I love the person I just messaged?”

    See what I did there?

  19. There is another side to all this. For the married folks who are getting involved in “love” on SL. I am the spouse of a cyber sex/fantasy addict. He went in world, originally for business reasons he said. Within a week, he was spending every waking hour in world. I asked what was going on, what the deal was etc etc, do I have anything to worry about with you in “there”. I was assured no, nothing going on. He would come home from work, wolf down his food, and run to the computer within 1/2 hour after arriving home. Stayed up all night, would pass out drunk in front of the computer, be HOURS late for work. He basically abandoned his family for a hot avatar, telling her he loved her, proposed to her. He was so caught up in the fantasy, he couldn’t stop. He was 20 again, she was his princess. I sat alone every night, slept alone every night. He continued to deny his behavior. Since trust was now lost, I logged on, bagged him and her. Reality hit him in the face. Got all the sorry didn’t mean to etc etc, told me it had stopped. Well come to find out, he was still loggin on, lying to her as well, telling her he had left me, was living alone etc etc. She is also married, also cheating on her husband, and also neglecting her family. The feelings there are real? Hmmm…the fantasy is real, the feelings are not. How could they be, they are part of the fantasy. He betrayed 20 years of US, was thinking of leaving me for her at one point, but the problem was…since she is also a cyber sex fantasy love addict, when I took away his computer and the SH** hit the fan in RL, she found somebody new to be her prince charming. I would urge anyone who is in a RL relationship and is cheating on their SIG in SL, step back and look at what you are doing. Are you prepared for the devastation that your actions will cause when you get caught? And you will get caught. Your spouse has that gut feeling. Think seriously about the avatar you love…words..anyone can say those, how does one know they are true? It is a fantasy world. He lied to her, she lied to him..it was make believe. If you prefer a relationship based on lying and dishonesty, then I would say have fun in SL, and when you lose your RL over it, suddenly the fantasy goes out the window. Its a pretend world folks..may seem real to you if you have issues, but it is a pretend world. 3 months in SL and he is “in love”, vs, 12 years of friendship and 9 of marriage and a child. Gee I know who I would pick *shrug*. If you are hiding your behavior from your SIG, that is your brain telling you it is wrong…if it is so right, why do you hide it.

  20. I was in SL for allmost 3 years. I was builder and fashion designer. SL was a great poligon of my imagination.I was so succsessful and earn nice real money there , but …in a zenith of my story…I was fall in love in beautiful brasilian and lost my mind complitely. All things what that woman said in comment before me was I am.
    My RL was disaster and my mariage too. So one day I was avake. With tears in my eyes i admit to ma beautiful vampiress Hope that I am married, that I am not 34 but 44.y.o. and i have three beautiful dothers.
    My avatar staing naked in front of her . so I modulate my real feature. I said her my real name and gone from SL for ever.
    Sometimes I ketch my self that I dreaming my SL Island and beautiful hous I made in 3D. I dream about sendy beach and Hope on it, but I take a cigarette brething it deep and go on. in real life.

  21. I am sorry but I will disappoint you and lot I am steel looking for the girl that can make click to me in both life’s but believe me threw my 2 years experience there is no love in this second life world I am steel looking to be unfair I have tried twice but this twice ruined my life , my real life.
    The first sl and after rl relationship tell me that the sl is better lover than me in many ways she choose to be with her laptop flirting with others men than me.
    The Second sl and after rl relationship the strongest relationship in my life I was catching my self dreaming married rl with 2 or 3 childs.She divorce me for another men in sl i was here real life ask her for her love and she divorce me for a men in another country she did not have see him even in real life she divorce me for a cartoon.
    I am sorry but I was real in love with this girl I am steel catching my self crying at the nights and ask in the mirror why , why all this ,why I must feel all this.
    I am sorry but I have start to believe that the love is not in this second life world.Love does not have room in this life

  22. I can empathise with those who have fallen in love in Sl only to have your heart broken.Curiosity led me to Sl and i was instantly hooked. I met this wonderful man so funny, charming, attentive
    and was attracted to him. We would talk for up to 10rhs per day so easily, learning all about one another.He would email me every morning as i got to work and would be waiting for me online when i got home from work. We had fun together in sl we danced sat and talked it never got past the kissing and cuddling stage. I was totally hooked, he became my reason to start my day just so i could be with him for most of the night.He started talking about us meeting that we had this amazing connection, he felt it too He is on the oter side of the world to me but i sarted to think that maybe this was really going to happen. For 6 weeks, 10 hrs a day 7 days a week we were together.I really felt so much love for him,
    then out of the blue i get an email, its over, “we are so different” was the reason, what happened to you telling me we are so alike and soulmates. So that was it nothing else, i have been shattered i feel numb. But it sounds so stupid how could i let myself get into this situation, but I am missing him so much my life now seems so empty I have a good job and a good husband but none of that matters i want my prince charming back, that one person who has made me feel alive and wanted and sexy. I am addicted to sl there is no doubt about that but i meet different ppl and i only keep comparing them to my prince and they dont come anywhere near his standard. So please be wary with relationships in Sl they can bring so much pain. I am finding it hard to get through day

  23. Me partner and I are a Second life relationship. We met on 28th November 20009 and decided to meet in RL on 3 dec. I was married with 2 children, but was in a very unhappy abusive relationship. I met him and found my soulmate. 1 year on we are engaged, living together and totally happy. SL relationships sometimes do work, but my advice is to just be wary as not many people do not realise there is someone behind the avi.

  24. I have discovered a real problem for myself in SL. I have had one disasterous relationship, quickly followed by another. Both times have been very painful and have caused me distress for days on end. It is a genuine grief reaction. Now, just a week after the second relationship crash, I have met another woman and we are already very close, although we have only known one another for 48 hours! Such things seem to be greatly accelerated in SL compared to RL. Already I’m thinking of her constantly throughout the day, but after the painful experiences of the past few weeks, I’m trying very hard NOT to allow myself to have the depth of feeling that I experienced the first couple of times. But it’s not easy when you’re with a beautiful avatar, sharing an intimate couples dance, alone in a beautiful ballroom. Help! :)

  25. Further developments re my third SL relationship. Already, after justna few weeks, things are beginningnto go wrong. From her spontaneous marry me! as a reaction to our immediate rapport, romantic dancing and kissing, not fo mention a desire for sex, we have now started to find incompatibilities between us, namely a need of hers to modify my personality quirks in ordermto make more acceptable to her way of communicating and take on life. She she complains about my circular thinking, stating that she needs me to think in ‘straight lines’ (!). She is pretty inflexible, and she is frequently confused by my fairly straightforward statements. in otherwords she has a rigid personality, and a need to escape the reality of her marraige and associated, I presume, problems. I long for her everyday, and look out for her logins all day long. I think of her constantly. My RL marraige is being comprimisedmand my wife is beginning to suspect that somethingmhas changed in my life. I have cried for the past three nights because of relationship misunderstandings with my SL partner. i long for all day long and have even begun walking through the night so that I can IM her…she lives in a diffirent time zone.To cut a long story short, this affair is causing a huge amount of stress and sadness, as well as incredible highs. I vare for her very, very much and we even discussed living together in SL. This experience is very traumatic but I am absolutly terrified about the prospect of losing her both in SL and RL.

  26. I went into SL six months ago for the first time and was picked up almost immediately by a man who romanced me and introduced me to cyber ‘love’. I fell totally in love with him and he made all kinds of promises. We partnered. We took it outside of SL and talked on skype and the phone. We intended to meet in RL. He went on a lot about honesty and how there were people behind the avis and you had to remember that. Pity he didn’t! I eventually found out about another partner – she was also making plans to visit him. He had lots of alts too and was in SL day and night hunting for women and having casual cyber sex. I found him out to be a prolific liar. So, all the women in his life are left with broken hearts and this sociopath (that’s what he is) goes off and starts again. He has no remorse and doesn’t give a damn about any of us. I no longer go into SL. I’m struggling to get over what was done to me, the lies, the manipulation etc. If you find love in SL you’re lucky and I’m pleased for you. I’d advise everyone else to take care though. There are a lot of nice people in SL. It attracts, however, a disproportionate number of sociopaths and people who are there to act out their pathologies. Some here might find this interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgyd8YEKh80

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