05-24-2010 11:00 AM
How to Avoid Heartbreak – A Handbook for Making Friends in Virtual Worlds.
by Lindal Kidd
So, you’ve met someone on line! Congratulations! Now…will this friendship last, or will it dissolve in a week or a month, with bitter feelings on both sides?
Rule 1. Establish compatibility. First and foremost, does your friend share your outlook toward your virtual world, and relationships formed therein? There are three basic types: Augmentationists, or “FaceBookers”; Roleplayers; and Immersionists. Augmentationists want to know all about your Real Life right away. To them, that’s the “real you”. Roleplayers want to know your character’s back story. Immersionists just want to know where you bought those great shoes. If he’s a Facebooker and you’re an Immersionist, there’s not a lot of hope for long term happiness, because you look at the world in fundamentally different ways.
Establish compatibility, Part II. What groups does your friend belong to? Do you share any of them? Or do some of them interest you? What does he or she like to do? Talk? Go clubbing? Explore new places? Shop? Make sure you have some interests in common (besides pixel sex, I mean). Do some of those groups repulse you? That’s not a good sign.
Rule 2. Cybering. If the two of you go to bed on your first meeting, I predict a short relationship. Intense, maybe, but short. You’re not in love, sweetie, you’re in lust. Learn to recognize the difference. Fun is fun, but real relationships have a stronger and deeper foundation.
Rule 3. Morality. Is it cheating? Who knows? What’s important is that you both feel the same way…that you share some standards of morality. Is being married in RL (to someone else) OK? Is an open relationship in virtual reality OK? Is it OK to have alts to play around with others?
Rule 4. Goals. Are either of you looking for a relationship that could eventually grow and move into Real Life? If that’s what you seek, be sure your friend has the same goal. (And be sure he isn’t just saying that to get or keep you in the sack). If a RL relationship is your goal, *cautiously* share RL information with your friend, a little at a time. When it’s time to actually meet in person, be sure to follow reasonable safety precautions, such as meeting in a public place, and having someone know where you are, and instantly available on your cell phone. Or there with you. In any case, make sure that you and your friend share the same long term goals.
Rule 5. Allow time to be together, and time to be apart. Everyone needs personal space, and personal time. If you find yourself creating an alt just to get some breathing room (or worse yet, to pursue a relationship with someone else) it’s not a healthy sign. Friends, lovers, and even partners need to be able to say, “I can’t be with you right now, I have something I need to do.”
Together and Apart, Part II. Conversely, always make time for your friend, especially when he or she needs you. When you’re with them, BE with them…not IMing six other friends, or reading your email backlog. Relationships grow by sharing, and time and attention are the only things we can truly share in a virtual world.
Rule 6. Take your time. Everything happens faster in virtual reality. Emotions seem stronger, love blooms in hours instead of weeks or months. Or so it seems. Slow down. Take it easy. You may think you’re ready for the next step, but you probably are not. So SLOW DOWN. Relationships built up slowly are stronger and longer lasting.
Rule 7. Be comfortable with yourself. If you’re needy, people will sense it…and you will attract users and predators. Be sufficient unto yourself, and you’ll attract friends and lovers who sense a whole person, an interesting person. In other words, don’t go looking for love…let love find you. Trust me, it will.
Rule 8. When the going gets tough, the tough keep going. There will be hard times in any relationship. Times when it seems everything just hurts. Suck it up! It’s easy to give up, mute that insufferable person, or create an alt and start over again fresh. In fact, it’s TOO easy. Don’t take the easy way out too soon. Relationships that are worthwhile are worth fighting for. Communicate with your partner. Share your feelings, and listen to theirs.
Rule 9. Knowing When to Say When. Sometimes, we just have to admit that we made a mistake, and end a relationship. If you don’t like the person you’re becoming…if your relationship makes you smaller instead of helping you grow…if your friend proves to be false…you may have to end it. When you make that decision, make it clean and quick. Then either take a break from your virtual life for a while, or find new activities and friends to keep from brooding.
Rule 10. An Thou Harm None, Do as Ye Will. This is good advice, even if you’re not a Wiccan. Always ask yourself, “is this going to hurt someone?” If the answer is yes, then don’t do it! Those other avatars are people just like you, with the same hopes, fears, and feelings. They matter.
Read my blog! Across the Grid With Lindal Kidd
05-24-2010 11:11 AM
Gah! Stop talking such a pile of sensitive, reasonable, common sense! We'll have no trouble here!
05-24-2010 11:30 AM
Great post, Lindal.. should be required reading .. I am so happy you put the "Is It Cheating? " Rule 3 in;-)
05-24-2010 01:48 PM
Mind if I copy this to a notecard? Not for mass distribution, but just for guys I might be interested in deepening my friendship with.
05-24-2010 02:11 PM
Permission is hereby given to copy and freely distribute my OP. Please leave my byline on it though!
Read my blog! Across the Grid With Lindal Kidd
05-24-2010 03:05 PM
I presume this is directed at females or men that behave like them?
Pep (whose advice is much shorter; don't believe anything anyone says, and screw them before they screw you.)
05-24-2010 03:12 PM
I at first read 'Rule 4: Goals' as 'Rule 4: Goats', which really changes the meaning of the paragraph.
Very nice piece. I think Rule 6 should be branded on people's heads. I have a friend who every week has a new sure thing man in her profile pics, only to be replaced the following week by another new sure thing man. I met my RL ex-wife online in another venue, and we talked for a year before finally meeting, and in retrospect that still wasn't enough time. Wait. Wait! WAIT!
Baby you're adorable