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Can RL and SL Truly Be Separate? |
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Filed: Monday, June 30, 2008 at 9:20:53 PM
Filed Under: Love, Relationships, and SL
Can RL and SL Truly Be Separate?
I'm a terminal profile reader, and one of the things I see repeatedly in SL profiles is something to the effect of "SL is SL, RL is RL", or "What happens in SL stays in SL". While I obviously can't speak for everyone, I know that in my case I have found that to be untrue.

We are all people... the avs are not the actual characters in the "game" (and I don't generally use that term to describe SL), the actual people who create the avs are the characters. You can dispute that if you wish, but I know that when I make friends in SL, I am forging a friendship with a person sitting at a computer somewhere in the world, not a cartoon character on a screen. Artificial intelligence has not progressed to the point where a computer can generate a personality for a game character... that personality is an extension of the very real person who created the character. And I'm sorry to disagree with you if you don't share that belief... but it's still true.

I see so many people say "It's just a game" or "It's only SL love". I guess in order to test that theory, I could ask some questions. Answer them to the best of your ability and see if SL is just a game to you. For this exercise, I am going to assume a situation where you are in a SL love partnership with another person, and that you are also in a RL marriage or other serious relationship. Your mileage may vary. This is just something for you to think about... there's no point in answering these questions in any way other than truthfully, since no one will know other than you.

  • Do you find that your feelings for your SL partner don't shut off when you log off? Do you think about that person when you aren't in SL?

  • Do you (not your av, but you) feel jealousy at the thought of your SL partner being with another in SL?

  • Do you question what your partner is doing when he/she is logged into SL, but you aren't?

  • Does your relationship with your SL partner move at all beyond SL? Email, telephone, AIM or other chat programs?

  • Have you been any less than FULLY upfront with your spouse (and yes, you have to answer this honestly!) about the true extent of your SL relationship?

  • Do you feel the need to be untruthful with your RL spouse about what you are doing in SL?

  • Conversely, do you feel the need to make your RL situation sound worse than it is when talking about it with your SL partner? Do you need to be untruthful with your SL partner about your RL relationship?

  • Do you get jealous when your SL partner has RL commitments and can't see you?

  • Would you be upset with your SL partner if he/she met someone in RL and couldn't see you as much? Would you see that as a betrayal?

  • Do you "freak out" when you have computer/Internet problems and can't get into SL? Does this make you worry that your SL partner will be mad at you for not being there? Do you then feel the need to contact your partner via alternative means (phone, email, etc.) to let him/her know?

If you HONESTLY answered these questions, and I hope that you did, look at your answers. Look at all the questions you answered "yes" to.

I would submit that it's not a game. These are real feelings you have for this person. It's not just "SL love". You can justify your reasons any way you want to, but those feelings are RL feelings that you are expressing within SL.

Now, I am not judging anyone. How you deal with all of this is entirely up to you. I would never think less of someone because they were in a situation like the one described above. It's between you, your spouse, your SL partner, and God. I'm just trying to be helpful, since I was in a position where I answered all of these questions truthfully and found that I was in fact taking my SL love far beyond SL, to the point where it was for all intents and purposes a RL relationship. And it was one my RL spouse TeeDee did not approve of. I was fortunate in that she loved me enough to forgive me this betrayal of our marriage, and I was able to start over and have another chance. Will you be that lucky?

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