Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Separation Anxiety

I am crazy about this woman I met in Second Life, she has become a very miportant part of my life both second and real life. We are both married and she feels strained keeping second and real separate...any advice I can pass on to her would be helpful.

Thank you for your question, my friend, and congratulations on making such a wonderful connection. Yours is not an uncommon dilemma in the realm of virtual relationships. I maintain that the separation between virtual and actual lives is one of the more difficult balancing acts we face in the digital age. The problem is that the veil of separation is often porous, or quite nearly transparent at times. It often depends on the individual. Some people have little trouble compartmentalizing their experience. Others, with a more holistic mindset, have great difficulty doing so. The most porous aspect of separation is the emotional. There is always an actual living person behind the avatar persona. (At least until the advent of Strong AI) The emotions evoked by the relationships we build in the virtual realm are undeniably real and often quite strong.

This is a topic on which I have expended much mental energy and have discussed at length with many of my close friends. There are many ways that people learn to deal with keeping the two worlds separate. Some don't bother to at all. One thing all of these have in common is the understanding that the virtual world does indeed effect the actual. Another is that one must have their actual life in order first. You say she feels strained. This indicates to me that while she may feel strongly for you she also feels strongly for her spouse. I do not know for sure what your beloved's conflict is, but I can guess that she may be feeling guilty about her association with you. If this is so, then she needs to sort out her relationship with her 1st Life spouse. I would advise you to do the same. I am not qualified to make any sort of pronouncement on whether a romance in SL constitutes an issue of fidelity in 1st Life. What I can say is that if the spouse believes it does, then that becomes a serious matter which must be resolved.

I fully appreciate the intensity of the connection and immediacy of emotions that Second Life® romances can invoke. I have had one or two myself. However, if your beloved is feeling a conflict within herself, then it is time to consider whether the experience you share is worth the potential damage or even dissolution of what may otherwise be loving and fulfilling relationshps in the physical realm.

Ask a tiger.

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