What Is SLove? Baby Don’t Hurt Me.


With Valentine’s Day coming up and seemingly alllllll my online friends breaking up, getting back together, or just creating relationship drama for drama’s sake, I wanted to take a second and look at this thing called SLove.

Now, I must preface this with the fact that I’ve never had an SL romantic partner. I just don’t see the need; anything I did in SL would make me feel guilty for cheating on my RL Boytoy, who I respect way more than any SL flirtation would ever warrent.

There are people I love, though. Friends that I’ve known online for over two years now and value just as much as any of my RL friends. Take Tenshi for example (the lovely blonde chick in the above pic.) I’ve known her since right after I rezzed. Say what  you want about her, but she’s a dynamic person and she’s always there for me, itching to help out.

Is that what SLove is, just with cyber-sexin’ added to the mix? I’ve got to wonder if it’s just a deep friendship with the romantic notions that you apply to it. I mean, there’s no physical contact for 98% of romantic SL relationships. You’re unable to forge that physical bond that RL romantic relationships depend on. No matter how ‘attractive’ you’re able to find an avatar, they still just that: an avatar on a screen.

I’m not saying your SL-only love is invalid. Well, maybe I am, but not entirely. I think imagination plays a very deep role. I think it’s a very valid, deep friendship with a lot of imagination added to the mix. It exists almost soley in your mind. You’ll never have to deal with your SL partner getting the flu and barfing on you, or farting in bed, or being pissy in the mornings. These are the things that validate an RL relationship because you love your partner not in spite of the fact that they do these things but because they do them and you get to help them and take care of them.

It seems to me that SL relationships are almost never able to move beyond the puppy-love stage because your partner will never be presented to you in a light that adds more deminsion to your relationship.

That’s not to say that there’s not successful SL relationships that carry over into RL. Just look at Jelly and Hawks. But I think they’re a rare case in SLove-and should be applauded for it.

I know I’m going to catch some flack for saying so, but no, I don’t think your SL relationship is just as strong as my RL one and I resent it everytime someone says it to me. Real relationships take work and compromise. You never have to have that in SL. What’s the worse that can happen? Your SLover doesn’t appriciate the work you put into your virtual house? Doesn’t want to hang out at a club? Jumped on poseballs with another avatar? SLove is deep friendships with the imaginary romantic notions both parties have decided to put on it. Why can’t we just appriciate it for what it is, value our friendships, and stop making relationship drama that I have to support you through and pretend like you’re going through a real crisis?


29 Responses to “What Is SLove? Baby Don’t Hurt Me.”

  1. I am so glad I’m not the only one that feels this way! When I first rezzed, I thought other than looking good, the most important thing was to fill that partner box. While I’ve met some interesting guys, I could never imagine it going out of the friend zone. I enjoy and value good conversation-no matter if its iRL, iSL, plurk, or IM-but I couldn’t imagine having a relationship online that could compare to anything iRL. Thanx so much for writing this! I really thought I was just a cynic, but now I feel better!

  2. Says although I do believe there are all levels of how someone feels in a virtual relationship, I think you kinda hit the nail on the head. I agree that a relationship purely based on the virtual and ‘poseballs’ and sl clubs is in no way more important than a rl relationship. People find (or look for) what they need and/or want in whatever worlds they inhabit.

    I think it’s important to remember that each one of us is not *that* other person, so empathy can go a long way. Trying to realize what you feel about one thing is the way someone else feels about something completely different regardless of whether or not you agree. However, I will be the first to tell you that your rl relationship IS more important than anyone else’s completely virtual one. That being said, most SL relationships, like the one you explain you have with Tenshi, go beyond cartoons and fashion drama… and ping you right in the heart.

    Not sure I made any sense!! Good Post, Iris!

  3. Spoken like someone who has never been in an SL relationship.

    I hear what you’re saying, Iris. I even agree with maybe 80% of it. But until you’ve gone down that path, you can’t really know what it’s about.

    Thanks for sharing, tho! LOL 😉

  4. Subversive Writer Says:

    I have to disagree somewhat, in that while 99.99% of SL relationships are stupid “drama for drama’s sake” BS, I can’t really buy the argument that an online-only relationship can’t have meaning without transitioning into RL.

    — The guy who traveled to another country to meet his SL girlfriend in RL after two months because he wanted his online-only relationship to have meaning, and now is married to her. AKA, hypocrite.

  5. First off, I’d do anything for you if it made you happy.

    Secondly, I think you’re right. SL relationships, for the most part, are people we’re really good friends with and we just happen to pour in a nice text sex session in once in a while.

    But, yeah. I think to each their own… and I’m gonna stick with you without the cybering, if you don’t mind. ❤

  6. Completely agrees with Joonie. Unless you’ve been in an SL relationship, or even an online/long-distance one, you can’t accurately judge. I agree with some of the things you are saying, but you can’t possibly hope to understand or empathize with those of us that have experienced “SLove” unless you too have walked in our shoes.

  7. I have to agree with Subversive there…while I agree that SL relationships and RL relationships can be very different, I have to say that you can’t say one is more important than the other. It really depends on the relationship and the people who are involved. Have a great day! 🙂

  8. I feel the same way you do- being both in long distance relationships and having my marriage start out being an online relationship. Until you start to see that person daily you don’t get a sense of it all. Plus, there’s NOTHING on the Internets that can explain why you still love someone after they are spooning with you and they fart or fart during sex. 😉
    But, having an online only SL Relationship obviously fills some niche- because it’s done. Marissa did do an SL relationships study before her body study (http://marissaracecourse.com/virtual-love-marriage-and-infidelity-in-the-land-of-pixels/) I’d like to see how time has changed it though…

    with SLove,

  9. @Bettye and Meara:
    I’ve got to disagree with you guys.

    Meara, you said “but you can’t possibly hope to understand or empathize with those of us that have experienced “SLove” unless you too have walked in our shoes.”

    Ok, that’s one of the things I’m talking about. You’re actually using very dramatic language (IE: ‘you too have walked in our shoes’) to make you sound like a tragic heroine. Which you can totally be in your own mind, because that’s the love story you’ve created for yourself. Which is fine, but proves my original point. You can make your SL relationship into whatever appeals to you because it doesn’t have a romantic base in reality. Want to be tragic and star-crossed? Great! Because you won’t ever have to deal with your slover’s unromantic morning breath.

    Bettye, the sl and rl relationships can be and ARE different. You’re not around each other all day. You won’t ever know their little tics and cute unconscious habits. There’s a psychological construct that says you won’t really be able to know a person until you’ve spent 24+ straight hours with them and I think it holds true. You can’t really be there for another person in an purely online relationship. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s human nature.

  10. doveswanson Says:

    I agree, you can’t ever really know that person until you’ve transitioned to RL. Until then, you are basing everything on what you think you know and what you believe you know. This is coming from someone in an SL relationship that’s over a year old. I feel that my relationship with Law is probably one of the most honest relationships I’ve ever been a part of (RL included) but even that doesn’t convince me that there is no need for the RL element to be introduced at some point if we want to make this a “real” relationship, for all the reasons you listed.

    I honestly think that we spend more time together than a lot of married couples…and we do more things together in an effort to maintain our relationship than most SL (or RL) couples do…but again, I’m still aware that it is lacking that real element that would make it a complete and whole picture – and a very valid and real element at that.

    So yeah, I agree.

  11. doveswanson Says:

    Then again, on the flipside, there are people who believe that living together out of wedlock is just as close to “playing at a relationship” as being in an SL-based relationship would be. So maybe there are levels to the validity and realness…or maybe we’re all just playing at convincing ourselves of something real. Hmm.

  12. I’ve been in two SL relationships — and I did freak out and cancel about two days before the last SL guy was going to fly out here in an attempt to be an RL guy.

    That’s when I realized that my SL relationships were so damn easy — and SL removes so many roadblocks that RL throws at us — and that I loved that easy, safe fantasy. When it came time to try to make it real, I discovered that the desire really wasn’t there. All I really wanted to do was add some “romantic chapters” to my SL fiction. (Although, the friendships I’ve made there are far from fiction.)

    I can relate in great detail to your feelings in this post. “Partnering” and the thought process behind it is a mystery to me right now. However, I know other people who have successfully given tangible shape to their SL relationships — and others who are perfectly content with them as they are in cyber form. It comes down to what we need, what we truly want and what will fill those needs and desires.

    It’s all subjective, I guess.

  13. I can’t really decide if I agree or disagree. lol. I will say I think Love is being oversimplified in posts and some of the comments. As Someone commented already it depends on the couple. There is on SL-couple that I know who is as amazing as a RL one.

    One on hand, I agree because I have met my sl mate in RL and lived with him for two months because wanted/needed more than just SL. When I stayed with him there were things we had to deal with that Sl couldnt prepare us for. So u are right about that.

    On the other hand, We are now apart again and have been for a good period of time. I don’t feel less close to him or less of a couple because now we have no physical contact. Nor are there no tests because we are apart. There are personality conflicts, scheduling conflicts and so fourth. He still has to deal with my mood swings. lol

    I believe if you go all in , head first into a online or long distance relationship you can make as strong as people who see each other everyday. We and I think some sl couples talk more and communicate better than most people living together. And great communicate and Love I believe makes *any* coupling valid.

  14. I also agree, though I’d say on a side note that Dove and Law are as close as it comes without being to a RL relationship without yet meeting LOL. I haven’t had a partner nor will I in SL, I have had boyfriends but never in a million years would I call that even close to a real relationship, it is as you say a deep friendship with slex here and there. Although when I first got here, I learned quickly of how fast and how deep you can aquire emotions for someone, nothing will compare to a RL relationship and dealing with the rocky roads without being able to just click the x. Therefore, my final thought on it is, if it is important to the person that is involved, and they are a friend whom I care about, I will be there to support them when they need to vent, cry, gloat or whatever. It is real emotions to them and is filling something they need so I respect it. I am pretty sure that any of my friends all have the same belief that if it came down to it a RL relationship is more important, b/c it is RL and we all know the RL comes first. I hope I made sense, and great post! I love hearing others views on things.

  15. I guess the thing with me and online romance is this: RL has been around a lot longer than SL, and it will be around a long time after SL is gone. If there’s a real connection, it needs to move to RL to survive I think.

    Maybe some people want these online partners because it’s safer to live in SL without having to deal with the expectations of what might happen outside it. I don’t know. I DO know that as tricky as RL is, it’s easier to deal with those sorts of disappointments or work through problems or celebrate or whatever with a person you’re face to face with. You can be genuine, loving, happy, flirty, angry, funny, sad or whatever in SL, and I’ve made friends I love sharing my SLife with (there’s nothing wrong with a little flirty slex every once in a while) but it will still never be the same as a RL relationship.

    Okay, sooo, THIS might sound bad, and I don’t mean to p/o anyone, but the reason most online romancers give to defend their online relationships is that ‘you could never know how real this is’ unless you’ve done it yourself. Welllllll, gulp, couldn’t you flip that around? Is it possible a lot of online romances seem so lovely because some people haven’t experienced a good RL one?


  16. don’t duck minx! you made a very valid point at the end saying that “THIS might sound bad, and I don’t mean to p/o anyone, but the reason most online romancers give to defend their online relationships is that ‘you could never know how real this is’ unless you’ve done it yourself. Welllllll, gulp, couldn’t you flip that around? Is it possible a lot of online romances seem so lovely because some people haven’t experienced a good RL one?”

  17. Terry Toland Says:

    My SL partner totally has to deal with me pissy in the morning. Well, not sure if he did before we were going out in real life, but it’s still a long distance relationship and I admit to being Miss Moody.

    That being said, we might want to look at how well long-distance relationships work, or one’s where – for whatever reason – the physical presence is unable to be fully sensed (damaged sensory nerves of some type come to mind). Some survive, some don’t, and the quality varies. It ultimately depends on the individuals and if their surrounding environment is. My partner and I are not only fairly patient and enjoy having our space, we also have similar phone plans that allow us to talk for hours without sacrificing a limb and our families don’t harp on us about the relationship being ‘different’.

    I feel it’s important that these relationships are questioned, however. It makes people evaluate things rather than taking them for granted. Perhaps someone is taking a relationship more seriously than someone else, which can cause major problems. By looking at one’s emotions and personal values – such as their happiness and contentedness – can they discover if this is right for them. I know those that just want a friendship with romantic trimmings, and it means a lot to them in RL. I know others who are more or less than that, and witnessed the hassle caused by people not being at the same level.

    I guess ultimately SLove is different for everyone, just as real life romantic love comes in various form. There are a lot of correct opinions.

  18. What Iris said is the main reason why I don’t like marriages or the whole “serious” relaitonships irl. See today’s defination of love has been greatly influenced by the media. The perfect fantasy romance between a good looking guy and the gorgeous girl who in movies, books, cartoons and games. They have presented “love” to be this perfect relaitonship where you only get to see your partner at their best and skip the well ..not so romantic parts of a real relaitonship. Movies do a great job of that.

    I once read an article written by a middle age woman who was talking about why she hasn’t been able to date a guy more than 2-3 months and one of her comments were “when he starts cutting his toe nails in front of me, thats when I leave. Because I wanna feel like the perfect fantasy girl that he is always drooling over.”

    Sounds shallow you might say, but love, just like many other things is based on the person’s perspective. I personally don’t like to deal with the not-so-romantic parts of a relaitonship, such as the bad morning breath. In return I don’t even want my partner to experience that from me. Sure all those are part of reality and part of nature, but we have come a long way to deny nature and sensor the unpleasent aspects of nature to build a more luxurious life.

    For me personally, I would rather carry a what some may call “fantasy” or “ficitonal” relaitonship by not moving in, getting married, or being together 24/7. I like having to get ready to see my partner, waiting on her, i want every day to be like a date. That is my choice and what satisfies me personally. Of course others may have a different perspective on love.

    even SL relaitonships have their “reality checks” as I like put them. When you are around the person for too long, youstart pick on their not so romantic habits. However love ..in a romantic relaitonship between 2 people has always been and still is a simulaiton of mind. Of what you make it to be, even in “RL”. You choose what you consider love based on your perspective and personal experiences, then you build a simulaiton in your mind that defines and describes everything around you. It is our perspection that defines our feelings.

    Have you ever stopped to think how your partner sees you ? What they might see you as , and what you might be defined to them in terms of personality, looks, style, feelings, attitude could totally be different than what you may think they are seeing you as. Which is why reality is relative.

    As an example you may look at a red rose …and think of a romantic guy who walks up to you and gives you one. Your partner may look at a red rose …and think of a funeral. You are both looking at the same rose …so ..which one of your perceptions is more real ?

  19. Meara Deschanel Says:

    Iris, you said,

    “Ok, that’s one of the things I’m talking about. You’re actually using very dramatic language (IE: ‘you too have walked in our shoes’) to make you sound like a tragic heroine. Which you can totally be in your own mind, because that’s the love story you’ve created for yourself. Which is fine, but proves my original point. You can make your SL relationship into whatever appeals to you because it doesn’t have a romantic base in reality. Want to be tragic and star-crossed? Great! Because you won’t ever have to deal with your slover’s unromantic morning breath.”

    Sounds like a tragic heroine? Who’s being dramatic now?

    If I make it sound dramatic it’s because it is. Online “love” can be so much more intense than a “RL” love because with RL you have physical reality to balance out the emotions that are tied up with the other person, as you noted. When it’s online, it’s almost entirely emotional. And our emotions are pretty powerful things. So I’m not going to pussyfoot around it – online relationships are dramatic and can have a more profound effect on people emotionally than a RL one. I’m not saying this to be “dramatic” or make myself out to be some “tragic heroine”. I say it because I’ve been through it and that’s been my experience.

    You on the other hand have not been through it, and to dismiss an online relationship as nothing more than a friendship that you “tart up with sex” now and then is incredibly obtuse. So sorry, but while you make a few good points, I can’t agree with your opinion because you’ve got nothing but your perception to base it off of. It’s like someone who’s never had a kid trying to tell an expectant mother what labor feels like. You.simply.don’t.know.

    Yeah I may not have had to deal with his morning breath, but I sure as hell dealt with the mood swings, the ups, downs, the emotional responses, thoughts, feelings, speech, tone, attitude, voice, etc. To blow that relationship off as nothing more than what I make up in my head, just because I can’t physically reach out and touch the other person? Are you serious? Your post might apply to those people that fall “in love” on a daily/weekly basis in SL and go through partners like I go through Diet Coke, but I don’t feel applies to experiences like mine.

    You’re entitled to your opinion but then that’s all it is – your opinion. When you actually fall in love with someone you met online, where BOTH of you go through 3 years of the most intense emotional experiences of your lives, THEN you can come tell the rest of us that our online relationships aren’t that important/valid/whatever. Until then, you’re just writing about something you have no experience with. *shrug*

  20. @Meara:
    I think I can see why that relationship ended. Yes, this is me silently judging you. Enjoy.

  21. *hands Iris an extra cross* Here babe, you might need this if any of the other commenters forget theirs. I ran out of use for mine a while ago.

  22. Eilithyia Says:

    I’m married to the man I met online and I have to say I find it the most rewarding relationship I have ever had. Because we spent three years knowing each other’s personality, discovering parts of one another that normally never come into relationships side tracked with sex and social gatherings, we have a much better understanding of who one another are. Granted, things in the real world are far more complicated: dealing with RL needs like who cooks the food, who does the cleaning, dealing with earning a living, etc. But, our conversation, our friendship, our understanding of one another and ability to communicate is superb in comparison to relationships who didn’t have the years of soul searching conversations, debates and heart felt letters we engaged in.

    And so, internet relationships CAN be deep, they CAN foster REAL love, but they are not “complete” until the union is made in person.

  23. I agree with Eilithyia. I’m also getting married to the man I met in SL. And getting to know him in SL allowed us to focus on communication and compatibility. We decided to meet in RL because we felt we needed too. But even if had never met I would still consider our relationship real and valid. However it probably would have come to an end for our own sanity if we hadn’t met eventually. That’s my experience with relationships in SL. Everyone in life has a different story to tell. That what makes life interesting. But some people like to “sit and silently judge people” I feel sorry for people like Iris who are so wrapped up in themselves that they think their judgements actually matter to anyone. lol

  24. doveswanson Says:

    That’s a great point Eilithyia, I agree. That’s how I feel when I say that my relationship with Law is the most honest I’ve ever been a part of – it’s also the most open and sharing. Even though it might seem like an odd thing to say, I do not doubt for one minute that we would not share the same relationship had we met randomly in real life. I know without a doubt that our relationship would be a weaker, watered down version of itself, with lots of things unsaid and things not shared. Not saying either of us is a worse person in our real lives or anything, but just that this medium allows for people to be open and closer because it’s almost all you have to share with one another. At the least, online relationships, if taken seriously, can promote healthy communication skills between two people.

  25. […] See Iris’ post at the SL Revolution, “What is SLove?“ […]

  26. I am not sure I disagree with you Iris on your points about friendship. Draco and I met over 2 years ago in SL, and we have been together over 23 months now. Exclusive, monogamous, and committed. We partnered at some point early on, but never did the wedding thing, that is not what we are about. He is absolutely my best friend, he knows me better then anyone, and not in some fantasized way, he knows my flaws, and as much as I adore him, I know his. We are human and real and we have never hidden those realities from each other.
    I also agree with the initial puppy-loveliness. In the first months of our relationship, I would agree with your description of friends with some added fun sexy stuff, but our relationship has moved beyond SL in the sense that most of the time we spend together now is on Skype or on the phone. We ‘work’ together in SL, owning and running a SIM and club, we have responsibilities, we have stresses, but it had made our relationship stronger really.
    Our RL situations, my health condition, his responsibilities as a parent, living in different countries, financial realities, have made meeting up to this point an impossibility. I realize it may never happen, I know that if it does it may be years yet, and I am aware that the RL chemistry thing is so fragile and my not be there, that is a fear I have. (Even though I find him incredibly attractive in RL and no longer thing of him as his avatar, but see his RL face when I think of him). But what will last forever is this incredibly intimate friendship that we have cultivated over time. We talk about these things, not in an idealized way, but very realistically, about what challenges we face and the judgments we will be subject to by family, friends, etc.
    We may have met and falling in “SLove” but that was a long time ago, now, our relationship is in a different place and SL is a very small part of how we are together, I haven’t seen a poseball in a year I bet, and it is not something I miss. It is not a typical or recognized way to find a soul-mate, but I think it is not out of the realm of possibility. Our future together is not certain, but I cannot imagine a point in my life where our friendship and bond would not be as strong as it is. I consider myself very lucky, very blessed. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
    ~ Ketsy

  27. I find myself in a similar sitation to Dove’s and RL elements constantly interject themselves. From watching movies together or simply wearing a headset to bed so you can wake each other up or even just listen to your partner sleep. I’ve yet to hear the holy grail of the bed fart yet, but I have heard him snore and vice versa. I think it boils down to goals and expectations. Some people are perfectly content to keep their relationship in the squeaky clean confines of a virtual world, but I’m not one of those people. Nic and I know the challenges that we have ahead of us and we’ve had some pretty frank conversations around our expectations and long-term goals. Neither of us signed up to SL on a mission to find love, but it became a starting point. A way in which we were able to meet despite thousands of miles of distance, but at some point that distance will be travelled so we can be together in every way possible permanently. Do I think any less of our relationship because we’re not there yet? No. That being said, a lot of the perceived pettiness surrounding SL flings and lamenting of a 1-week SL relationship gone sour are merely echoes of the same complaining I would hear in RL based on the same circumstances. I think where real emotions are involved, real feelings get hurt. I guess it’s about how much you’re putting in to the “game”.

  28. […] would feel uneasy if a friend said something like that. But I keep reading about people saying that SL love cannot compare with RL love because there isn’t “real” contact, and people agreeing with them. Am I the only one that finds it outrageous? […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: