When I entered Second Life in March 2011 with my first avatar I would not have believed it to become so intense and life/love changing. Totally unprepared for cyber love and all its sensations I jumped into this vortex of feelings. Yes jumped. I was not pushed, not drawn by whatever else, I just jumped, because curious and liking a challenge. And of course I soon started to feel attracted to all kinds of experiences we cannot so easily practice in RL. Apart from being able to fly and dress with a simple mouse click I was captivated most by this incredible strong and fast way of connecting with other people all over the world. Some became standard friends, others intimate friends, a few became lovers. Sex was inevitably part of this all.
Through the years I went from newbie liking almost ALL, to a more matured avatar less liking all. I think everyone goes through certain phases in Second Life and only feels settled after some dramatic or otherwise powerful experiences. Each and everyone of such powerful exchanges with other avatars leave a mark in you. Those marks can be painful wounds, love cuts, sweet signatures, frightening ties, relieving soul confessions, growth of character and much more. Whatever kind of bonding I had in Second Life, I value them all. Even the ones or maybe especially the ones with a dramatic touch in them due to lost love, hurts and scares. I believe (for myself) I needed all to be able to develop a virtual SELF which matches (Read: does not conflict) with my RL SELF. Of course I am the same person RL and SL, just in SL we can stretch realities a bit more with our imagination and adventures. Where I used to not fear certain boundaries I now face them to be very present and not in a bad way.
It is fairly easy to go all the way in Second Life when in love with another avatar. At least, when not fearing these previous mentioned certain boundaries and having this urge to experience all. The reasons to have wanted that in my case had to do with an extremely isolated life for more than 30 years due to severe life troubles. Nothing I will use to call myself a person who needs special care and has a right to RE-live her lost experiences in SL, just a simple observation and explanation of Second Life feelings merging with my RL feelings, creating opportunities to do so.
Real life love
My RL relation is a happy one. Together we battled with many obstacles and our love was challenged by experiences which could have gone in the wrong direction due to almost unbearable circumstances. It went well however and nothing can beat us (I don’t care about the NEVER SAY NEVER bullshit in this special case, we just are inseparable). Also when Second Life love at a certain point became a bit too serious (looking back I categorize it as such) with crossing some borders I will not cross again, this RL relation always kept me at my base: RL love is the first and only thing to protect. I am not saying it was not challenged to drift away from that, but thankfully I was wise and strong enough to not let that happen. Sometimes because I stopped myself relating with someone, sometimes because the other stopped relating with me, sometimes because relating was with both of us being very clear in boundaries concerning a RL love never to be touched or endangered.
It has given me a lot of good and less good experiences and again, I cherish all. It gave me insight in a few things, most others also will have after several years in Second Life. The most clear one is this one: SL love is extremely fragile and vulnerable. Despite sometimes being turbo boosted into deep mind connections, it also can fade away again in a way I still do not totally understand but compare with a high speed version of falling in love with someone in RL and losing butterflies after a while. The second insight is an increased awareness of potential hurts and the fear for that after a mind bending love drama leaving a big impact. The third insight is to see similarities in how people cope with lost love in RL and SL. Some lovers will be banned to the land of ignorance forever, some to the land of trusted friends forever. Some will stay in your heart like a sweet pair of arms, others will withdraw and never want to embrace you anymore or vice versa. Like in RL love this never is a one way decision or outcome. It needs 2 to tango and some tango’s will go in another direction than a desired one. I prefer harmony with all I shared love with, but when it is impossible for someone else I cannot force that to become a reality. The last and maybe biggest insight is the impact of paranoia/jealousy and expectations in virtual love. Second Life is not the best environment for trust. Yet we do so, but the risk it will be knocked down is big. Alts, lies, cheats, nothing is impossible and all way more easy than in a RL situation because more options to do so without being noticed. When a mind becomes focussed on that, paranoia and jealousy enter your space. Not healthy and needing a lot of resistance to stay sane.
The magic of having a crush
Having a crush is like allowing your mind to be drugged. I think it is partly a conscious act and partly a hard to resist attraction we sometimes encounter. I think many crushes we develop are being nourished by our fantasies. An ideal lover, too good to be true chemistry, yet wanting it to be true, a sexual journey into things RL simply will not and never provide, sweet romance and dream worlds. Nothing wrong with that, but a crush never is enough to feel ok on the long term. A crush often is short. Can be a sexual one night stand dying the next day, can be a cuddle journey for a few weeks, can be a total platonic interaction of minds with hopes for more or with a safe distance for not wanting more. Crushes can become more when both minds really feel good and free to be themselves totally. I think that’s a rare thing, especially in Second Life, because it already is hard enough to discover who you are or want to be in a world with endless options for multiple mind connections on all kinds of levels. I do not see crushes as a bad thing and do not want to define and analyse them too much either, just I do think it helps to develop a self-awareness by examining your own feelings while having a crush. To know when you please too much, to know when you feel pleased too much, to not ignore frictions and stay communicative about them, to protect your own boundaries and limits, to respect your own needs and freedom. It al sounds very selfish (me, myself and I come first), but I think it is the safest and best way in a virtual world. Altruism is not the same as sacrificing yourself. Devotion and dedication should never touch that. I welcome all crushes, but also welcome a sane and safe distance when it feels like that or when a crush appears to be too short to have a deeper potential.
Today I think for me personally the best SL life is to not relate with someone in a too serious way. With that I mean to stay single yet also enjoy love and care when it comes to me, but not like a couple commiting to each other like in a RL love. It would also interfere and conflict with my RL love too much. I need freedom in SL love I have discovered. Freedom to have a relaxed non-restrictive connection and freedom to walk away. Some trials and errors and some long lasting relations now make me say I am best of with staying independent and give and share my love in an open minded but limited way at the same time. Simply because I cannot (do not want to) commit anymore like I used to do in Second Life and now have more satisfaction in other things and another way of loving and connecting. It is calmer, safer and less time consuming. Maybe also more boring (no idea . . . I will have to experience that), but for now I see my Second Life is in need of this kind of freedom, with less expectations and desires to be fulfilled. So I will dedicate but not commit, to tell it in a short way.
Extended Real Life/Love
Everyone in Second Life is there for his/her personal reasons. We all have some kind of addiction to this world. It is way too simple to say we spend time here because a RL is not happy enough. It is an extension of RL for me, with incredible possibilities to develop a special kind of awareness and love, with its own value. And a world so much creative I also dare to call that love. A creative mind is a loving mind. It visualises thoughts and feelings, it expresses a persona and unique view on that person’s world. It breathes YOU and gives others the possibility to inhale YOU. When we share breaths and inhales we are like air. It spreads into every corner of an existence and connects people.
I only can speak for myself of course and being related in RL also makes things different, but I hope this blog somehow feels like a little reflection for others as well. I have no regrets with any kind of relation or crush. I do feel sorry for sometimes hurting people when for me a connection does not work so well and me cancelling it or reducing it to friendship. I may have given hopes for more in some cases or others may have developed hope for more with me and not able to make that happen. It never is nice to end a story or change a story, but when it feels like the best thing to do everyone is free to make such a decision. Sometimes you can feel trapped by realizing you do not want to let go of certain freedoms and safety like wanting to see friends or shop at any time you like. Or craving for a calm life without disturbing emotions. Or to not have to login especially for someone, knowing it is expected as a ‘proof of love’ (a silly proof, but that’s how it works in many cases). Reduce a crush or lover to a friend is a strange way of putting it by the way. Often such friendships can become very special ones with a shared intimacy you do not have with other friends. It is not reduced, but changed into a special form of connecting with its own precious values. So basically I can say this: I have been (am) loved and I have been hurted. I have loved love and I have hurted. We love and we hurt, all the time. I suppose that’s why we experience Second Life as real. Or like many say: Feelings are always real. Imagination does the rest. Second Life rocks, Real life as well. Stay safe and happy :)
A very interesting documentary series about Cyber Love can be seen at ARTE:
Included is episode 9, but there are 8 more to see via the link below:
Episode 9 is about Second Life, in cooperation with Yann Minh and Tutsy Navarathna. A part of the movie MethaPhore by Tutsy Navarathna can be seen as well , in which I participated myself as one of the characters in a virtual love story. Just to have some different insights and not only mine.