Friday, February 8, 2013

Ask DrFran: "The Roles We Play"

By DrFran Babcock

Dear DrFran: 

I am writing to you out of frustration with my relationship here in Second Life. Alfie and I have been a couple here for over two years, and during this time we have built a strong night club business, and a small real estate holding company, renting shops to people who want to be near a prosperous night club. We make enough money doing this to pay the tier on the two sims we own together.

Lately, though, what’s been happening is that I log in and Alfie tells me that he’s busy with a customer. So, I set up the deejays, send out the announcements for the events, greet folks, keep the chatter going, audition and hire acts, and even clean the sims of prims left behind by visitors. I handle all the rental properties and take care of any issues my customers may have. What began as a fun partnership is becoming a full-time, busy job for me. 

The final touch was the other night while there were 26 people in the club, dancing and having a good time. I was in private chats with the deejay working on the stream, a friend of mine who rents a dress shop on one of our sims, and a newbie in the club who was having trouble figuring out how to make the dance ball work for him.  All of this was taking place at the same time that I was in open chat joking and laughing with the crowd, and setting up the board for the evening’s Best in Formal contest. Alfie logged in, and I immediately IMed him asking for help. He told me he would be there in a few minutes, but he never showed up, and logged out about an hour after logging in.

The following day, furious, I emailed him with a request to speak with him for a bit. A day later he responded to my mail, and showed up in world that evening. Now, DrFran, I am not stupid, and I tend to assess situations by what people do, and not by what they say. Therefore, I had already guessed that Alfie was not interested in continuing to be my partner, but I was not prepared for his response. After I calmly detailed to him the extent of the work I had done, and requested that he help me with some of this, he became sullen and wanted to know why I was picking on him and trying to control him. I was shocked.

From that day until today I have been doing most of the work for our two sims. Alfie is usually online playing in one of he weapons sandboxes or spending a lot of Lindens on Zyngo and things. If I so much as ask him to be present for an event he starts to whine, and logs out.

What can I do to get him to pull his weight in our business, and what can I do to show him that I care? 

Signed: Disappointed.

Dear Disappointed: The situation about which you write is a very common one. In the beginning you were so enamored of each other that it was hard to see anything but good. As time goes on in relationships they pass from this euphoric state to the day-to-day realities of life. This is especially true for working partners.

What has happened is this: People will hate me, but in most cases, we become one of our parents and connect with someone who is like our other parent (provided we had two parents). So, if one parent was responsible and the other one wasn’t that is the roles we adopt. Even worse, at times we become the responsible parent while our partner evolves into the bad little kid. I think this is what has happened in your case. You are juggling all the balls while Alfie is off playing. In addition, he may have begun to see you as the punishing parent, always ready to reprimand him. Unfortunately, once this happens to a relationship it is hard to recover your balance. Have you ever noticed, that no matter how much you have accomplished in your life, when you go home you become a little kid again?

Yes, I know this isn’t always the case, but the situation you describe sounds like Alfie sees you now as someone wagging a finger at him. Sadly, this is the death of desire. If you are able to negotiate a purely business relationship with this guy, with a contract that outlines each of your responsibilities, you might be able to salvage your sims. However, I don’t think you will get Alfie to see you in any other way than as a stern parent, and folks don’t generally feel attracted to their parents.

I am sorry this has happened, but DrFran has learned more from broken relationships. I make a lot of mistakes; I try not to make the same mistake over and over. I hope you can do something to make this the best outcome possible. Please write to me again. I want to hear how you made out, Disappointed.

DrFran Babcock

Obligatory disclaimer: The column Ask DrFran is the work of DrFran Babcock, and may not reflect the views of SL Newser as a whole. Please direct any correspondence to DrFran Babcock. I look forward to hearing from you.

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