Monday, October 3, 2011

ASK Acu: "Balancing 2 Loves and Lives"

Originally appeared in Teleport Magazine (2008) No Longer Published

I believe I have found my soul mate, thanks to Second Life. J My SL girlfriend lives in another country and I don’t know how else we would have found each other! She and I have been at it non-stop for almost three months and it has been one of the best relationships I think I’ve ever had RL or SL. She and I have complicated situations in real life and enjoy unplugging from all that when we are together in-world. Logging in to see her is truly the highlight of my day. The problem is, Acu, that I spend a lot of time in-world, sometimes 8 to 10 hours a day. This is an improvement because there were times when we first started dating that I was in world 12 or more hours. We haven’t shared RL information and have kept our contact strictly in-world, so sometimes I am online exploring or other things until she logs on. It doesn’t seem like my time online has impacted my real life other than less sleep, but I guess I am wondering at this point where this is all headed. Is it possible to have a relationship like this online and still be productive in RL?  ~SL Stands for Sleep Lost

Thanks for writing Sleep Lost! Finding love in Second Life can be a wonderful thing. Relationships often move fast here because the anonymity allows us to be who we truly want to be and when we connect with another who accepts this ideal of ourselves (especially if you are exploring a part of yourself you would not otherwise real life), it can be intoxicating. In addition, the attraction we have for our partner is usually created when we discover something about them that is familiar. There are literally millions of possible connections, but we are drawn to people (both real life and second life) that remind us of something/one we know. The challenge with this is that sometimes as we attempt to grasp the identity of our partner, we fill in the unknowns with what we are familiar with (or greatly desire) and as a result, our perception of them can be that of the perfect partner. It is easy to project our ideals onto another person’s avatar. This ongoing process of creating and validating can generate some intense emotions around our relationships, and we feel that we have met that perfect someone. At some point, however, we begin to realize that the anonymity places limits on our ability to fully connect to our SL partner and it is usually at this point that one of two things happens: either you begin to integrate more RL into the relationship, or the connection begins to fade as we crave more evolution of the relationship.
It is absolutely possible to have a relationship online that is healthy and productive, but the reality is, although we can separate SL from RL, we cannot separate the human keyboardist from the in-world avatar. In relationships, it is unrealistic to expect that we can separate parts of ourselves and true evolution still occur. At some point it is important that the two lives are integrated so that we feel complete. The extended time you are spending online appears to be more related to wanting to expand your connection with your SL girlfriend, rather than an attempt to isolate yourself from RL, the later of which would be much less healthy. It sounds as though you and your partner are at a place where you should begin to dialogue about the direction the relationship is taking and what your expectations are long term. Once you are both clear about this, you’ll be in a better place to decide if the relationship is truly right for each of you.
With love, peace and blessings


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