Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ask DrFran: Advice From Someone Who Rarely Follows It

By DrFran Babcock

With this post I will begin a new column/service in the venerable SL Newser: Ask DrFran. In over seven years in Second Life I have come to realize that there are certain themes to the difficulties and joys of this virtual world.

I am here to help. We all know the issues that show up again and again in Second Life: Fidelity, Gender, Love, Drama, etc.

Our first candidate has been through something maybe you yourself may have experienced:

Dear DrFran:

 I rezzed in May of 2008, and had no idea where to go or what to do. I went to the Morris Info.avihub on my first day in Second Life where I met the guy I will call Wolfbain. He was a lifesaver, showing me how to move around, build, buy clothes, find freebies, and chat with other residents. I was so grateful to him, that I agreed to visit his house on what I now know is the Mainland. He had a lovely bachelor pad, with plenty of intimate seating, and a place to chat by a roaring fireplace. I was hooked. Wolfbain and I spent every day of the next few years together, chatting in text and voice, sharing details about our First Lives, and becoming closer than any two people I have even known. We partnered several months into our relationship.

The change in our relationship started slowly. I would log in to find that he was not in what had become our home. I could map him, and realized he was hanging out in some clubs, on the newly created continent of Zindra—the adult continent. One day I logged in to find that I no longer had mapping privileges, and when I IMed Wolfbain, he would not return home for several minutes, if at all.

Of course I confronted him, and he denied that anything had happened. What happened after that has perplexed and hurt me to this day. Wolfbain completely stopped logging in as Wolfbain. I knew the names of several of his alts, and could see that one of them was online often. I was becoming so enraged with this, that I went as an alt to one of the places to which I had mapped Wolfbain when I still had mapping rights on him. I found him with a “slave” in a bondage room, and while I wanted to scream at him, I just teleported back to my now empty home.

It’s been months, and Wolfbain no longer answers my emails, IMs, even phone calls (Yes, we had exchanged phone numbers, and spoke on the phone when SL was not available.) I am in emotional agony. We were so close, so intimate, so loving. How could this have happened? Am I a fool or what? Please help. 

Lonely on the Mainland.

Dear Lonely,

I am very sorry you had to have such a sad ending to your story, and, no, you are not a fool. I am sure that there are dozens of residents who can tell the same or similar story.

No matter how close we get to another avatar here in Second Life there is no way to ensure that they will be faithful or honest or act with integrity. It’s just too easy to rez another avatar, and be another “self.” There is no doubt that anyone reading this will think that Wolfbain acted honorably. However, that does nothing for your pain and sorrow.

Some tips to help you recover and move on, because that’s really what you need to do, are offered here. Some of these come from my own First and Second Life learning experiences:

1) When you make the break, it’s best to really make it. Do not think you can be friends (at least not initially), still talk, and that your partner will come back. I know it’s sad, but it is so much better to get through the loss, rather than prolong it and hope things will change. It’s very, very seldom that this happens. Your Wolfbain has made it clear he does not want to be with you any more. Ouch, it’s painful, but believing a lie is more excruciating—believe me.

2) Do not stalk your ex. They will think you are mad, you will feel mad, and you may even become mad in the process. In fact, I have found that the less I know, the faster the pain goes away.

3) Although it may not be something you believe, in time the pain will pass. I remember waking up and crying and crying and crying, and one day I woke up and I didn’t cry.

4) DO NOT get involved in another relationship right away. I hope it’s not too late for this tip. Running from one person to the next will never allow you to mourn the loss, learn from your triumphs and mistakes, and grow and become better at doing relationships.

Lonely, I hope you can make use of these tips, and that you will let me know how you make out. There is no greater pain than that we inflict on each other, but there is also no greater joy.

If you have an issue or a question, just send me a notecard. Let me know if you want me to use your avatar name or an anonymous name, and I will do my best to respond. You may not always be pleased with my response, but know that it will be genuine and that I will validate your experience.

DrFran Babcock

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