I am addressing one relationship for the most part, the one that was the most significant and still affects me.
We talked about moving it to real life from very early on in the relationship and went as far as talking about immigration issues and looked at homes online. What happened with him has completely changed my thoughts about SL relationships and how people can lie, hide and deceive.
In your relationship (s) who has usually been the instigator? If it was not you, were you even thinking of finding a relationship or were you "persuaded" into one?
In my one “major” relationship, I was persuaded. He pursued, he showed interest, worked his way into my life and became a friend then more. He was partnered to another woman at the time we met and I had no idea he was interested in me until he was already a major part of my life.
Is there a typical first date? What is it like? Do you actually do things in SL or is it just about the relationship on the internet and you happened to meet in SL?
I don’t think there’s a “typical” first date in SL. With this gentleman, the first “outing” we had was shopping for a new house for him, as he had just split from his partner and was moving. We loved to go dancing and just talk on Skype for hours.
After the first date, what do you typically do together?
He and I quickly advanced, we talked for hours at a time, and “married” quickly, moved to the same sim and were inseparable. We would explore, listen to live music, take lots of pictures, go dancing at Bogarts or just stay home and talk… and talk and talk and talk.
How quickly did you know it was love?
Within a week of dating. We had been friends for a time before, and the feelings were very strong. He was very intense at the beginning of the relationship, and against my better judgement I was caught up in the romance. I had never experienced anything quite so intense, either in or out of SL.
How big a role did sex play in this? Was it confined to SL or did it spill outside of it?
Sex became a huge part of the relationship. Skype mostly, with pixels for a visual. He was a very sexual person in the beginning, and that faded with time.
How does SL enhance or detract from the sexual aspects of a relationship, if it was part of yours.
It enhanced ours in that our avatars resemble the RL counterparts in some ways. Well, with him I am not sure if his pictures were real so I can’t say, but from what he showed me, his avatar did resemble those pictures, so I was able to imagine our RL counterparts and not just the avatars.
What was your real life situation and were you honest about it to your partner(s) ?
I am a single mother and was honest about my RL.
What was your partner(s) real life situation and were they honest?
I don’t know if he was honest. He claimed he was divorced and childless, but was vague about some things, I found out later he gave pictures of a different man to other women he had been with, I only received 2 pictures, they had more than half a dozen, so I am not sure which are real, if either. He never gave his address - only a PO box, and would not cam. To this day I do not know how much was real and how much was fake, and that caused me to become more and more agitated and was the eventual downfall of the relationship which was supposed to move to RL.
Do you think it is possible for two people to have a relationship in second life on one level and another relationship in real life? Why and how could that work or not work?
For me, I would not be able to do this. When I love someone, I have blinders on to any other man. I think personally that if you can do this, you don’t completely love either person and you are cheating on both.
Did you meet in real life? How did that go? Was it as satisfying as your SL experience? (if no skip next two questions)
No. We were supposed to, but never did.
What, if anything, were you most disappointed about?What, if anything, was the most pleasant surprise?
Did you marry in SL? If so, what kind of a wedding and what was the expense involved?
Yes, we did marry. We had a private ceremony with just us and a priest, then 3 months later had a renewal ceremony with family and friends. There was very little expense… we did it all ourselves and the venue was free. We used Mont St. Michel cathedral for both events, and it was lovely.
Did you have children? How was that?
We had prim babies and adult avatars as children. I find that children in SL sometimes forget that a couple is just that - a couple, and need time to themselves. We had one child who, if she was online, was constantly messaging him, and that also caused issues. She did not know when to stop and let us have time alone. We had 5 avatar children. I don’t speak to three of them anymore, but am still close with two.
How long did the whole relationship last? How long after the marriage did it last? Is it still ongoing?
Our relationship lasted just shy of two years. We married 2 weeks into the relationship.
If applicable, how did you ultimately break up? Did either of you cheat on the other?
There was no cheating involved. As I said earlier, there was a nagging doubt in my mind that he was hiding something or just blatantly lying. Over time, as trips were postponed, no new pictures were shared with me, and the cam was never turned on, the relationship became strained. He loves to take pictures, and would take pictures of his travels or his more interesting meals, but would not take pictures of himself. I needed to be sure, asked for reassurance, and yet he pulled back more. That made me angrier and we argued constantly, about everything. In the end, I lost my RL father and was on edge constantly and the arguments became worse. I showed him the door and he walked out it.
Ever been caught by a third party that also claimed a relationship with your partner? Were you blamed for the situation?
Yes, in the beginning, his ex partner blamed me for their breakup, and that he had cheated with me. That never happened.
Are you still friends?
What, if anything, do you regret the most?
That I believed in something that was most likely a lie.
What, if anything, did you gain?
I gained a whole new set of rules for relationships in SL. If you want to be with me, you will get on cam. Even if it’s only for 5 seconds. I need to know you are who you say you are. Never again will I allow myself to be potentially deceived.
How many relationships do you think you have had in SL?
5. My first did move to RL and did not work out. He and I are still friends. The others never made it out of SL.
What is your opinion on relationships in SL and are they healthy for people to get involved in? What are the key points people should consider before getting involved?
Healthy depends on the situation each person is in. I think married people in SL need to re-evaluate their relationships in RL and SL and make a decision, because no one wins in that scenario. RL marriages, strong or weak, will suffer if one partner is giving their time and attention to another person. Jealousy is human nature, and anytime you bring a third person into the mix, it will cause issues. I honestly believe that if people put as much time, care and attention into their marriages that they put into SL relationships, many marriages could be saved.
If the people are single, then there’s no issue, just like dating in RL, as long as BOTH are honest. SL only? That works too, if you both agree that’s how it is.
I have to admit that during my relationship described above that when I was able to push aside my doubts, I was incredibly happy. He was kind, loving and attentive. If it had been SL only, I would have been completely content. Once RL is mentioned though, I think that everything needs to be an open book. Names, addresses, cam, pictures etc. I hear so many stories of people who claim they want RL but will not turn on their cam. Why? If you’re on a RL date, you’re looking at each other. What’s so different about a cam?
The amount of deception that takes place in SL in relationships is mind boggling. Almost every person I have met in SL who has been in a relationship has a story of being deceived by their partner. Alts, false identities, false promises of RL have made a lot of people jaded towards relationships, myself included, and I cling tight to those people I am sure are real.
(Follow up Note: after doing the interview this lady researched the pics that were sent her and found they were actually pics lifted from another blog and not his at all. She was happy to include the link however as the photos are NSFW I have not added the link , but she provided the actual proof of the lie she suspected)
This is the second of the next series of interviews for Blissimo concerning SL. This series is all about relationships. You can read the first interview here:
Interview 1 - Anonymous Female
This next series is probably a bit more revealing, and I anticipate that people will me more reluctant to share their actual names. I have no problem with that because the point of these interviews is to stimulate discussion, not to persecute or praise individuals. I appreciate the honesty the subjects have provided in sharing bits of themselves for that purpose. As with the first subject, I have asked for anyone interested to contact me and I will send them the questions. I can be reached in SL, here, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org