So, I’m back to my romance theme today. In my ramblings about attraction, I think I made a case that in Second Life we are attracted to each other based on our physical appearance and Profile info. But I also made the point that despite not having the benefit of real facial expressions and other non-verbal communications, we quickly discover what a person is really like based on what they say in text and regardless of their SL appearance or what they claim in their Profiles. And somehow we become attracted to each other. In fact, many of us form deep bonds, fall in love and some of those relationships endure.
Before I start, I need to create a dividing line between couples who meet in-world and those who are bring their real life marriages into Second Life. I’m not going to confront the mysteries of couples who are married in both worlds. I know many couples who are married in both worlds, but they have a different dynamic than I’m writing about. Also, couples who meet in SL and take their relationship into a RL marriage have sort of vectored onto a separate track. This blog post is about couples who meet in SL and create a partnership or marriage in-world.
It is hard to observe yourself in any world. So, the best observations I have are from watching friends and acquaintances. I’m lucky to have several friends who have long term relationships. In SL, a relationship that lasts for more than a year is definitely “long-term”. From my point of view, the best relationships seem to include an in-world connection based on a shared interest. The one special interest I see the most is building, but this includes creative activities.
There are many things that cause us to form romantic bonds with other avatars, but once the infatuation stage passes there is a need for something more grounded to hold us together. And a large number of couples that I know who have a robust in-world romance, also are involved in building something or creating something. It can be a business, charity, themed sim or organization. It can be other creative endeavors, like building a career as a performer. I believe having a project that allows them to work together provides the glue that binds them together.
In real life, the family provides glue. Usually, the husband spends his days at his work and the wife may have her own work in addition to homemaking. They are drawn together in their home life, but in SL, very few couples log in for the purpose of hanging out in their home all night. Afterall, we don’t eat dinner or mow lawns or watch television, and we don’t have children to raise — these elements do not really exist in Second Life. (Yes, there are couples who create SL children, but that’s a subject for raised eyebrows, and not something I’ll be writing about.)
In SL, relationships tend to follow a familiar pattern. When a couple decides to make a commitment to each other, they form a partnership (be it informal to full scale marriage). Usually, they build a home (humble or grand) together and spend evenings pursuing entertainment. This formula works really nicely for several months, but why is it that so many relationships end not long after the partnership has been created? What causes so many SL marriages to fail? (I’m sorry I don’t have any stats on how often this happens, but this is not an essay, just a bunch of opinion.)
Wow! I’ve been really banging away on the keyboard here, but I think I’ve hit the points that make my basic idea, couples who have an interest that provides them with new challenges to confront (primarily, building) have an advantage over couples who focus on seek only entertainment. This is enough for today and I’m pretty certain the next thing I will explore is, what causes partnerships/marriages break up?