It’s not easy to have a long term relationship in SL, but it is possible. It boils down to communication.
There’s no such thing as long term relationships in SL you say? I beg to differ. It may not be du jour but I know a number of avatars and their human counterparts who’ve had significant long term relationships in SL and even those that have gone RL and led to marriage.
None of us are untouched by love. It’s a basic human need to be desired and nurtured and therefore it goes without saying that this rings true in Second Life too. Granted there are many degrees and standards by which we all live (and love) but it’s safe to say that we each have an understanding of relationships. They begin when we connect with another avatar in this instance. But where do they end?
Though not unheard of, long-term relationships are fairly rare in the virtual world where we’re less likely to enter into such a hefty commitment. So what do we enter into, and why? And why do we seeing such a high rate of partner churn?
We often enter into relationships with a heady and optimistic outlook. We’re in love! Or at the very least we think we are. Yet we are privy to overlooking the more pragmatic reasons for commitment, and in those moments of passion and daring we can overlook the most important factor:
Are we compatible?
There are two ways to look at it really, but both answers start with the same question. How well do we know ourselves? If we can fundamentally understand what it is we are dealing with, we can proceed with honesty and care and we can generally reach a positive outcome. But we need to know what we are dealing with.
When two people fall in love and enter a commitment, there needs to be a level of understanding. Both need to know who the other is and they must know the core values of both themselves and their prospective partner. If you begin to learn these things further down the track, the situation can get complicated quickly.
We each have different backgrounds, different views. We belong to different religions, and have differing views on politics. We belong to different sports teams (this can be bigger than you think!), have different kinds of relationships with other members of our family, and friends.
We need to understand these things about each other before we continue. When we know ourselves, we can teach each other, we can begin the wonderful journey of discovery. And then we are left with two possibilities, we can either be compatible in our views, or we can differ somewhat in our opinions but agree to always respect the others ideas. Compatible, or compatibly in agreement.
Partnership break up rates are high. One of the most common reasons is that we get lost in the ‘role’ of our partnership and we lose our identities, but infidelity ranks highest as the most significant reason partnerships dissolve in SL. Another reason for partnership dissolution is that we get involved for the wrong reasons, or we do not significantly understand what it is we’re getting involved with. We leap before we think, and it is only later that we begin to learn that our core values are exceedingly incompatible.
The silver lining is that things can be truly helped by communication. If we’re honest, and kind, and we talk openly about ourselves and proceed with love and care, we have a much greater chance of something great coming to fruition. A good relationship is an agreement between two people. You work out what works for the two of you — and it’s always different — and then you stick to it. It really can be as simple as that. At the end of the day, we can’t know exactly what will happen and things happen in life that change us. Our views can shift, and we can react to situations in ways that we never thought possible. But what we CAN do is be as prepared as possible. Trust our guts. And communicate.
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise.” ― Shannon L. Alder