Friday, September 12, 2008

The Nuts and Bolts of being an E-wife

Yesterday I talked about a blog post someone sent me regarding the damage done to Real relationships by Virtual relationships. Not the first time someone has told me that. Usually the kind of advice I hear from people not involved in virtual relationships is something along the lines of: "If you really love him you would give him up and let him get on with his real life," or in some cases: "If you are so serious about him you should go take him away from that RL wife/GF/lover." Both of those perspective come from people who only see validity in "Reality." Sometimes a thing is neither black nor white, but some shade of grey between the two.

Today I got an email from someone who is in both a virtual relationship and a real one. In VR she has a man with whom she is carrying on a torrid love affair. In RL she loves her husband, has a baby girl, and wants more children with him. And her RL husband is a very nice, hard-working man doing his best to support her and their baby--a man who is, however, not always as available to her or romantic with her as her only-a-text-message-away e-BF. Mutually exclusive relationships? Not as much as you would think.

She began her email telling me how her e-BF had told her some secrets, secret stuff he had never shared with her before, and since she hates the whole secretiveness thing, she found herself really annoyed with him for keeping secrets in the first place. But thinking about secrets and the trading of RL info between people in a VR romance leads to another thought. Is there a "need to know" on the RL information in a VR or romance? She said:

"Then I came to a somewhat cool realization. I am his vacation girl. I am the Caribbean, where his mind wanders when the rest of his world is rainy and grey. I am not the nuts and bolts. That does not diminish what this is or how anyone feels for anyone else...it is what it is. I am not his home. His house. He is not unhappy in his life, which would change little if I were gone (not saying it wouldn't hurt). I am not here to judge. I can love him for all those things...."

She can love him for what she does have with him, because clearly she is not looking to change any RL situations, his or hers. He can't be what the RL husband can be, the man with whom she has daily conversations about all the nuts and bolts of living. The diapers, the dinner, paying the bills, but also about having babies and building a life. But her virtual BF can be, as she is for him, the escape that keeps her going through and past the stresses of the day to day. A VR lover is the daydream you have--but an interactive daydream, with a playmate. A daydream that allows you to go home to RL and deal with the nuts and bolts.

In fact, the nuts and bolts of a virtual relationship are pretty superficial. Polite chat about your day, what is new with your RL life? Maybe--but not too much of that, probably no more than you would tell a co-worker or the mailman. More imaginative chat about places you would, go things you wish you could do? Yes, lots of trading of fantasies. And in that, a great deal of what the two of you would/could do romantically/erotically in those faraway exotic places/moments you will likely never see. Moments which spark a romantic side of you that you then take home to real life.

If you participate in a virtual world like Second Life no doubt much of your chat is also consumed by what is new in that life, not in "Real Life." There too lies fantasy. In SL there are no dirty dishes or laundry, the housekeeping is simple, messes can be deleted, and no one ever has bad breath, bed head, zits, or warts, no one snores, farts, burps, or embarrasses you in front of your mother . . . all the annoying details (nuts and bolts) of RL are just not there. Different kind of relationship entirely. One which doesn't threaten a real life relationship. . . unless you choose to let it. But that, my friends, is a different story altogether.

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