I started off by asking people to share, if they were willing, whether they had relationships in SL, and I'm happy to say that there were several people (including our very own Lizzie and London of course) who were in successful long term relationships. Others stated that they were single and happily so, with no desire or intent to get involved with such a thing. There was a discussion about whether using voice was desirable or necessary in a romantic relationship, and the general consensus was no, and most of the group did not use it. We decided that written words can be just as sexy as spoken ones. It was also pointed out that relationships are not always about romance and sex – there are also other kinds of relationships that may or may not include love as well. It was said that sex was important but not defining or irreplaceable.
One couple present (who had been together a long time in SL) said that they had no desire to meet in RL because they didn't want to spoil the fantasy. Others said that meeting in RL would be an ultimate goal. The first couple then said they were both happily married in RL and this had led to their decision. This then spun off into a discussion about whether it was cheating to have a SL relationship in RL. Many of us felt that if the RL partner was fully aware and comfortable with the SL relationship, then it was not cheating, but it was also understood than may people are not lucky enough to have such open-minded partners.
The question was asked then, “Is it still a SL relationship if it also exists in RL as well?” It was pointed out that SL and RL relationships have different characteristics and there is a definite change when it moves from one to the other. It was said that SL relationships are more intense, more open and more volatile than RL ones and that may contribute to the reason why they tend to burn out faster. It was also said that commitment and willingness to work hard on a relationship were key and lack of these were often a reason for failure of a SL relationship. We also discussed how commitment wasn't just “not cheating” - it was also a commitment to communicate and spend time with each other. Compatibility of RL circumstances (like whether both people can be online at the same time) were important.
When the hour was up we felt that there was still much more to talk about, and many of us stayed later, not least for a demonstration of hug attachments, involving yours truly!
In the end I wonder if SL relationships and RL ones are really that different after all?
Here is the schedule of forthcoming discussions from now up to the end of June:
26 May: Viewer of Choice?
2 June: Alts Frenzy!
9 June: No discussion
16 June: Decline and Fall of the SL Empire
23 June: Subcultures – BDSM and Gor (UPDATE: postponed for next week due to RL)
30 June: Profiles
Hope to see you there!