Monday, August 27, 2007

Second Life's National Passtime

Slate has noticed infidelity in second life.

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.

The reality is that infidelity, both virtual and headed for real, is the national passtime of second life. People may chatter about the direct sex industry of dancers, cam girls and escorts, but it is the indirect sex industry that is much larger. The world of couples doing things in private homes, or groups....

And many of these couples are not married to each other rl.

I've known many flavors of married sex on second life, the mirror what couples do in real life. From couples who have relationships that assume a wide variety of experience, to the more usual expectations of fidelity. But what is fidelity? The answer is very simple: if your partner thinks it is cheating, it probably is. The great infidelity only culminates in sex, it is the heart being unfaithful is time and attention.

I think that this lies at the heart of guilt and marriage. At a certain point, it seems that almost all marriages become about worry and disappointment. And hope, even such a hope as virtual worlds provides becomes alluring. I think any relationship dies, when the ability to get through to that soft comfort of another human being becaumse fraught with the perils of disappointment. When aman turns his gaze away, and grunts that kind of grunt that says his attention is elsewhere. You have lost him, and are no longer his precious.

For me, in my position, it isn't my part ot ask whether what you are doing with me is "cheating," that's your business, and I can't pry. I also have many people who are divorced or separating come to me, to heal the pain, and find solace.

In all of these i find that the common ingredient is simply this: that the partners have put other things in front of intimacy, and sexual intimacy in particular. They have made it a reward for good behavior, rahter than the basis for being together. Women throw dogs a bone. Men pet the cat just enough before heading back to their private obsessions. Each turns away.

And what is left behind is the lost sense that there once was.

Falling in love is as painful as fallling out, the difference is that our bodies are feeding us good drugs that send pleasure rushing to the far distant reaches of our brains, to cover over the pain of missing, longing, insecurity, jealousy and crawling need.

I think we will realize soon that the nuclear family and the pair bonding myth need to be revised. Yes human beings form deep pair bonds, often for life. But we should not build our society on the artificial expectation of absolute fidelity for ever as the precondition for any form of marriage.

But times are going to work, I think, toward pushing people together physically, while peeling them back from each other virtually. I think we will see more and more people huddled together for the need of money and stability, while feeling less and less at home with them personally. Holding on, but holding out.

It is an unhappy future we face, unless we let go of our inhibitions, nad really talk about what is, and is not, the boudnaries of a relationship. I think also we need to realize that the grinding away at the soul of America, a grinding away I see and feel all around me, must also end, because it drives peopel to despair who otherwise would not feel it.


  1. I whouldn't say that SL sex is necessarely cheating; sometimes the difference between it and reading an erotic story is small. But when your SL relations diverts you from your RL one and affects it negatively, it is cheating.

    I don't share your view about long term partnership, anyway. Yes, classical marriage is pretty fucked and the passion dissapears with time, but sometimes a kind of intimate relation, call it friendship or codependence, arises... and there are little things that can compare to know that somebody will be there for you, always, and that you will be there for him.

    Even if you cheat sometimes :-p.

  2. A person can have experiences in sl that are not available in real life. It changes not only the definition of affair - or certainly widens it - but the very definition of sex.

    I won't use myself as an example... but if one discovers that they get off having orgies with pink bunnies, why wouldn't their real life spouse let them play? I would urge my spouse on :)- even if she has made me a reallife bunny suit (and she really has).

    Now, I *am* using myself as an example when I say I am going on 14 years of happy marriage. Allowing one another space is not *always* a sign of a distant marriage. Friends need space and my wife and I need to be friends before all.

    Now, back to that pink bunny orgy...

    Oh and I agree with London, classical marriage has been fucked for years...but we refuse to sit down and have a meaningful chat with it.

  3. That is what I mean by the "pair bonding" myth, that marriage only works as a permanent pair bond, and not as anything else.

  4. Oh, and my wife's av uses one of your shapes and hair styles.

    She liked the dress you were wearing when I visited Yedo last night. I was excited to see you and called her in to look.


  5. It is important that the particular pair set limits as to their expectations, whether they be fuzzy, or mid-range, or wide.

    What is important that both parties acknowledge and adhere to these boundaries. Without any inherent differentiation in terms of power and control.

  6. I read your words and feel your description of marriage to be very true to a lot of people's realities, be it 1st or 2nd life. Human beings can't help wanting the most of something good they can get and will burn out on overdose a lot of the time. Consider, instead, keeping a person you love in your life as a friend and you will never feel beholden to them or lose them to disappoint and the loss of passion (it's harder than it sounds, but worth the effort)