Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Second Life is full of Drama…emotional wars and upsets.  In that respect, it’s a lot like Real Life…only more so.  There are a number of reasons for this.

-         Many people don’t see or treat others as people.  Their attitude is “Hey, it’s only a game, get over it.”
-         Many people use SL’s anonymity to lie and cheat freely, thinking it’s unlikely they’ll be caught…until they are.
-         The negative consequences of infidelity either don’t apply here, or are greatly reduced.  For example, there is no venereal disease or AIDS in SL.  There is no need to “think about the children”.  There are no alimony payments or community property laws.
-         Lovers have a limited amount of time together.  It’s likely that one or both partners will often find themselves in world without their partner, and there is endless opportunity for temptation.

I could tell some Drama stories, and when I started writing this I had planned to.  A couple of my friends have been using my shoulder to cry on lately and I’d planned to unload some of the angst here.  But what the heck, those of you who have been around more than a month have already heard your own stories (or had a starring role in them).  Those of you who are new might benefit from some general observations and advice.

There Ain’t No Privacy.  People can always, one way or another, tell when you are on line.  Although you can ban people from your home or your land, you can’t prevent them from sliding their camera in and watching you.  People can log their local chat and their IMs, and although it’s against the Terms of Service, they can pass them on to others.  Linden Lab logs everything, except Voice.  So even if no other residents are listening in, Big Brother is, or may be.  You live in a fishbowl; get used to it.

Trust.  If you don’t trust your partner, your relationship is doomed.  If you ever openly accuse them of cheating, you had better have some really solid proof, like coming home to find them in bed with the floozy from next door.  Whether you have proof or not, confronting your partner with their indiscretions, real or suspected, means your relationship is over.

Lots of things in SL can look like infidelity, but are not.  I remember one time a stranger called me up to ask me how to fix her on-screen HUD.  I teleported to her to help her out.  The place turned out to be a rather kinky sex dungeon, with a number of mostly nude people present.  While I was helping this girl, my partner teleported in beside me.  (We had given each other map visibility permissions, and she had a habit of popping in wherever I was).  I was rather embarrassed, given where I was and the activities going on around me.  Fortunately, my partner trusted me and did not go jumping to conclusions.

Honesty.  Be honest with your partner and with yourself.  If you find that you are avoiding your partner, either by not logging on when they are on line, or by making an alt to “get some time to yourself”, you have the wrong partner.  Better to break it off now, rather than sneak around behind her back.

Shared Expectations.  Be sure that you and your partner agree on the rules of your relationship, and on your ultimate goals.  If you are looking, ultimately, to meet in Real Life and perhaps develop an RL relationship, be sure that your partner shares that desire.  If you insist on a monogamous relationship in SL, be sure your partner understands and agrees.  And if you want to be able to have casual cybersex with others, be certain your partner is OK with that (and realize that you must give her the same freedom and trust).

Don’t Apply RL Standards.  Your emotions here are the same as in real life.  But trying to apply the same standards of morality isn’t a terrific idea.  Casual sex is much easier here, and as I’ve said most of the reasons it’s frowned on by society in RL don’t exist in SL.  Don’t expect your lover to act the way you’d expect if this was a real life romance.  Learn tolerance.

Protect Yourself.  Trust is an important thing.  But it must be balanced by a sense of self preservation.  Each step you take in letting your partner into your life increases your vulnerability if things don’t work out.  Giving them permission to map you, or to edit your objects.  Making them a co-owner of your land group.  Sharing your Real Life information such as your name, address, and phone number.  Sharing your SL password (STOP!  Don’t EVER do that, not with anyone!)

Time Will Tell.  I know that when you are in love, you want to share everything with your lover.  Hold off, sister.  Most SL partnerships last no more than six months.  It’s said that 6 months in SL is the equivalent of a 10 year marriage in RL.  If your relationship lasts that long, it’s time enough to think about sharing critical information.  Sooner than that is, in my opinion, risky.  You’ll want to go fast.  Pull back, rein in, slow down, WAIT.

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