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Monday, July 15, 2013

AVIE POLL: Controversial Topic- Married and Dating In SL- Jessi2009 Warrol Reporting…

Dating in Second Life can have its ups and downs and you may run into a variety of couples, including couples who are married in real life, but have relationships or are married in Second Life. This is a subject which is often commented on by many people. Some feel that it is ok to be married in real life and to have a relationship in Second Life, while others may think that if you are married in real life then you should not date or have a relationship in Second Life.

I was able to catch up with three different couples, all of which are married in real life and dating or married in Second Life. Warning the names have been changed to protect the innocent (or married).

The first couple I spoke with was “Keisa” and “Trey”. Keisa and Trey have been partnered in Second Life for almost a year now and participate in all of the joys of being partnered in Second Life. Both Keisa and Trey are also married to different people in real life. The fact that they are married in real life is not hidden from their profiles. “We both were honest with each other when we started hanging out, that we were each married in real life to other people,” explained Keisa. “I have no problem telling anyone that I am married. Trey and I clicked and we became a couple. It did raise eyebrows among our friends who felt that it was wrong for us to be together in Second Life and to say the I love yous, but Trey and I are ok with what we have”.

Trey echoed the same sentiments, “My Second Life is my Second Life, it is not my real life. What Keisa and I have stays in Second Life. I do not call her in real life and she does not call me in real life and I will not leave my real life for her, nor do I expect her to leave her real life husband for me. Having someone in Second Life is a fun and rewarding experience, she has been there for me when I needed someone as I have for her”.

I asked both Keisa and Trey if they felt if they were cheating on their real life spouses and if their real life spouses knew what they were doing in Second Life. Trey was first to respond with, “My wife is not really interested in Second Life at all. She is a WOWer and plays other games where she also has her own relationships in those worlds. Both of us see gaming as gaming basically and we are happy with each other. Marriage is about trust and our marriage is solid enough to where we would not let a game break us up”.  Keisa was a bit vague with her response. “My husband does not know that I have a husband in Second Life. I know he probably would not like some of what I do in SL, so I really don’t bring it up. If it became a problem I would just stop being with Trey or take a break from SL”.

The next couple I spoke with was similar to Keisa and Trey, except one person was married and the other one was single. “Willow” and “Mike” is a Second Life couple and have been partnered for almost four years. “Mike is the one married in our relationship and I am single,” explained Willow. “His real life marriage is not in a good state at the moment and hasn’t been for a few years now, “she continued. Mike further elaborated. “I spent a few years in Second Life single, did not really think it was fair to have anyone, since I was married in real life. This changed when I met Willow. I would confide to her about the problems in my real life marriage and she would listen and offer suggestions. Without her I would not have been able to cope the past 3 or 4 years. I will not go into the details of my marriage, but I really do not receive much support from my wife in real life. Willow provides plenty of support and has been there for me when no one else has been”.

Mike further explained that divorce was not an option in real life, as he would probably not see his real life children as much as he wanted to and financially he could not afford a divorce at the moment, so he would try to tough out his real life marriage as long as he could. I asked him if he felt what he was doing with Willow as wrong or cheating. “To me it is not really cheating, my real life marriage has been over for some time now. My real life wife and I are just going through the motions, “said Mike.  I also asked Willow if she felt that she was in the wrong for being with a married man in Second Life. “Not really, Mike tells me everything. Of course I cannot see what he’s doing, but he can’t also see what I am doing 24/7. We trust each other and are committed to each other”.

The last couple I spoke with was “Helen” and “Tom”. Both Helen and Tom are married in real life and in Second Life and had a few words for people such as the previously mentioned couples. “Cheating is cheating no matter how you try to spin it, “said Tom. If you are married in real life to someone and dating someone in Second Life, then you are cheating”.   Helen echoed similar sentiments, “If a person is doing things with someone in Second Life that they cannot tell their real life husband or wife about, then it is wrong and they should not be doing it”. Both Helen and Tom explained that when they joined Second Life, it was never a question of if they should partner or if they should be together. “We are married in real life, so automatically we would be married in Second Life, “said Tom. “Our marriage is too strong to try and lose it or cause problems by having too much fun in Second Life”, he later added.

So what makes people who are married in real life, to seek out someone in Second Life and to carry on a relationship? I spoke with a friend of mine who is a family and marriage counselor in real life and has conducted research in Second Life. “Paula” described the behavior as fantasy or a longing to do what the person is not capable of doing in real life. “Everyone is attracted to other people or may look at other people. This behavior is fine unless the person acts on their feelings. If the person is married then this is a problem. Second Life gives married real life couples a chance to live out various fantasies or to try and make up for the lack of something in a real life marriage”, Paula explained. “If  a person who is married in real life feels a lack of emotional or physical support in a marriage, then he or she may turn elsewhere. This may not be possible in real life or too risky in real life, so a virtual world like Second Life can offer the anonymity and safety that a real life fling or affair cannot,” she continued saying. “Second Life can actually save marriages, I have spoken to many couples who have said that the emotional support they have received from a Second Life partner, made up for the lack of emotional support that they were not receiving in real life”.

Paula’s thoughts ran home for Keisa and Troy. “Having Troy has helped me through so much and the pitfalls of my real life marriage. While others may judge me, I can say that it has helped my real life marriage because I do not have to confront my husband about things he does not understand, “she explained. “Keisa has been a rock for me, “said Troy. “I have no plans to change my real life relationship status. My wife prefers other games and at times will not be distracted from what she is doing. So I cannot talk to her and Keisa is there. Second Life is a great thing and it helps to bring happiness to people who may not be able to have it in a real life relationship or are missing that one thing in a real life relationship”.


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