So there is a topic which has been brought up several times now on my Facebook newsfeed. Something that baffles many people who have grown up with what society has decided to shove out there as acceptable. How can you tell two different people you love them, in a romantic way, and mean it to both people? Simply put, we all possess the capacity to love multiple people, beyond friendship. The issue isn’t what we’re humanly capable of doing; it’s more so what we’ve decided is acceptable behavior, as well as a bit of human nature.
It’s said that natural behavior through evolution dictates that we should live essentially polyamorous lifestyles, and that monogamy is difficult for some because of this nature. I’d argue against this, primarily because one of the things that separate humans from the rest of nature is our ability to make logic based decisions, as well as form morals and values, not just relying on instinct alone. This is where the primary issue arises though.
It is completely possible to love two people, in the same fashion, and mean it. However, it very rarely works out well. This is, in part, because of the selfish side of our nature. The great majority of us, whether fueled by natural desire or society’s standard, want to be someone’s “one and only” and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all want to feel special and important to the person that we love. We want them to love us in return and only us. Sometimes we want that love to expand into more, by way of having a family. This is all natural ingrained feelings. However, we need to keep in mind that this isn’t always how life works out, nor is it what works for every person.
I’ll mention here that my personal morals and values are such that I wouldn’t personally involve myself with someone on SL were I married in RL, primarily because when I love someone and I’m involved with them, then there is no one else, it’s not an option I allow for myself. I also hold RL steady dating relationships in the same light. I also prefer the same dedication from the one I’m with, as I don’t share well when it comes to the person I’m actually in a relationship with. However, I know that my feelings aren’t shared by all, and for the ones who don’t, hopefully whatever their outlook is, works well for them.
I’d hope most people would have sense enough to agree that love can never be defined in a “one size fits all” definition, nor should one person’s definition be applied to anyone else. Even in religion, you’re supposed to form your own personal relationship with the worshiped figure or figures, in addition to the basic worship of them. Take from that example that once you get past the basics of it, you have to then define the rest for yourself. This is what you do with love.
Having said all of that though, I do not believe that anyone who is in a RL partnership but participating in an SL partnership can ever honestly claim to have a complete RL partnership. SL relationships come about because people have a void that needs to be filled; some want or desire that’s not being met. This can be emotional, sexual, mental, whatever, but something isn’t there. Does that mean it’s not a happy RL partnership? Well, what you or I require to be happy can differ greatly from the next person, so it’s hard to answer that. However, I have enough confidence that I’d be willing to bet money that my assessment is correct.
I believe that these relationships can develop in an emotionally healthy fashion, but that depends greatly on four factors: honesty, communication, respecting boundaries, and not forgetting the reality of the situation when all is said and done. It’s a balancing act that not everyone can do. It takes people with the ability to balance things. Some will participate in these relationships with the full knowledge and blessing of their RL partners, which is great for them. Others will have to keep the two worlds separate, and find the proper balance between the two.
The issue of whether or not it was cheating in some way, on their RL partners… well, it’s another grey area. Some people think that the implied actions via sex animations constitute cheating. Others put that line at achieving RL orgasm via the masturbation that can accompany the sex animations. The line could wait until voice is involved through mediums such as SL, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Gmail Chat, etc. You get the idea without me continuing down the line. Everyone has their personal line, and a few even start it back at flirting. It’s another situation where it’s going to be a different definition for each person.
Due to the nature of SL relationships, the people who choose to not involve their RL partners with their SL relationships have their reasons. Sometimes they’re not in a happy RL partnership, but stuck in a situation they can’t easily get out of. This doesn’t facilitate a situation where they can be open with their RL partner about what they do in SL, especially not if they get into an SL partnership. I’d venture to say that a lot of people in this particular situation wouldn’t normally step outside of their RL relationships if the issues didn’t exist.
For those who fit somewhat into both categories, where their RL partner doesn’t know about their SL lifestyle, but their RL relationships aren’t heading toward separation, they’re in the most scrutinized position. They cause people the most confusion. However, it goes back up to getting a void filled. The statement “what you won’t do, someone else will” is very true. Should it be considered cheating? Well, refer back to my paragraph above on that. I would personally venture to say that as long as reality is kept in place, that the SL situation can help keep the RL relationship from heading down the path to separation. That might be playing devil’s advocate a bit, but if you consider that if it’s kept to SL, reality stays in place, RL doesn’t get affected by it, and it takes a glaring issue down to nothing… also, no RL kids come out of it, no STDs are brought home, and the only negative potential that I can see in it is hurt feelings if RL finds out and doesn’t accept it, or someone forgets reality in SL.
So how do we summarize this…? Well, we’ll say that each person has to choose what works for them. In addition, keep in mind that what works for you may not work for the next person. Love, happiness, and cheating are two things that have to be defined by each person. There are some common things in each that the great majority will agree upon, but as most know, it’s the details that count. What’s most important is to not find yourself in a relationship that you’re not capable of dealing with.
These are my thoughts on the subject; feel free to share yours below. Thank you for reading.