Loving One, Loving Many (The L Word, part 2)

July 27, 2007 at 7:06 pm (Love, Marriage, Polyamory, Second Life)

I think the experience of being magnetically drawn to another in SL is rather universal. And I’d venture a guess, so are the feelings, questions, and doubts that this experience raises in our own real lives.

As I mentioned in the previous post, soon after I joined SL I found myself faced with very intense feelings for someone I’d met in world. This took me completely by surprise as I had been happily married in real life for over 10 years. All of a sudden someone other than my husband was making me weak in the knees and causing me to run to my computer repeatedly throughout the day, desperate to find some sign of him.

At first I was petrified that this meant my happy marriage might be over. I began to compare the idea of this exciting new lover to the man I’d made my life with. And the intensity of the butterflies in my stomach weren’t helping matters. But, like any good transformative experience, this situation caused me to start asking some pretty heavy questions:

  • Why are the butterflies of new romance so intense? And why do they fade over time?
  • Is it cheating if I find romance online and I’m honest about it with my partner?
  • Is monogamy natural to the human species?

As my husband and I began to ponder these questions (because, of course, by now he’d also fallen in love online), a friend who had been following our evolving drama sent us a link that changed the game for both of us. We were introduced to the idea of polyamory, or the idea of loving many.

Now I realize how new-agey the word sounds. It conjures up images of seventies swinger parties and kooky HBO sex specials. But after looking at the philosophy, it seemed that what we were doing in Second Life was exactly that: loving many fully and equally. And, as long as we remained honest with ourselves, each other, and these new and fantastic “friends,” it all seemed to make sense.

I’m not suggesting here that this concept or philosophy is right for everyone. People who struggle with honest communication in their interpersonal relationships would make terrible candidates for this kind of exploration. But I am proposing that there may be a different way to look at marriage and online relationships than through the often puritanical lense history has handed down to us.

So what do you think? Do you think it’s possible to love a spouse and an online lover without upsetting the familial apple cart?



  1. Philipe Beresford said,

    🙂 For me I dont think I can really fall in love in SL but in the other hand I think its very easy to get affectionate and become attached to someone cause after all thers a person behind each avatar…

  2. Koz said,

    “So what do you think? Do you think it’s possible to love a spouse and an online lover without upsetting the familial apple cart?”


  3. Trow said,

    Well, in the loosest definiton, maybe…I definitely am excited and anticipate seeing certain friends, and miss them when it’s been a while…but I will not cross the sl/rl world…and consider my one true love part of my rl, fortunately. That said, I do feel a surprising closeness to certain avs and the people behind them, and know my rl wife does as well. I feel we also are both more confident with ourselves from sl, and that benefits our rl relationship.
    Thanks, Cindy, for making me think! 🙂

  4. Just me, nothing more said,

    First, to answer your question….. Yes, but only if you are lying to each other or if you love him, but aren’t in love with him any more(what an over used phrase…lol). Maybe you aren’t happily married, you are just content. Otherwise, no.

    I contend that most don’t actually know what love really is. The “L” word has been ruined. People use it too freely and its meaning is lost. Even if I lower my standards for the use of the “L” word and say I love someone on SL (which will almost never happen), you can’t really love a person you don’t really know. Sure you know exactly what someone tells you about themselves. But that isn’t really them, its only how they see themselves and how they translate that self reflection to you in words and now possibly voice. Does everyone see you as you see yourself? Exactly.

    I would say to you that people don’t love other people in Second Life. They love the idea of someone like that being out there for them. Take a real marriage with real love that happens in real life. It’s HARD DAMN WORK to maintain. You have all the factors playing into it. Time away from each other, money issues, kids, family members, work, etc.

    In Second Life, you don’t have alot of these issues that are in real life to test the relationship. Do you think that love would have been there if you met that person from Second Life in real life at a restauarant and find out they belch or fart at the table or are alot more uglier than the avi they created? For some, maybe, but for alot, no. It’s easy to “love” in SL because it doesnt have the problems real life deals you.

    So I go beyond your initial question and ask…. Can you really love someone from Second Life you have not met in real life and experience real life with or are you just falling in love with an idea of a person such as that?

  5. The Ultimate Meetup: Polyamory in Second Life « The Cindy Kesey Show said,

    […] my previous post about how my husband and I came to discover polyamory in Second […]

  6. Abreojos Barbosa said,

    I know it is possible and have found it to be the only way to have a worthwhile meaningful relationship either in Sl or RL. There just isn’t any comparison when it commes to the love, understanding and bond you achieve in an open honest relationship!

  7. marilyn VanGogh said,

    wow! I’ve finally found an article that explains what my profile tag means when it says “poly amorous” ,… now if I could JUST get my RL hubby understand this !

    I also agree with a lot of the other posters,…FL relationship MUST be placed and protected above all else. The couples must feel mutually responsible to each other if they have any hope of enjoying their SL time and each other in Rl. Otherwise- tooeasy to say it is just an excuse to avoid the inevitable truth that you really dont have anything left in RL -so why stay married?

    Great article on an often misunderstood beleif of social evolution… Thanks Cindy!

    I especially like that you INCLUDED your husband in this- its a perfect example of how to explore and develop a true open lifestyle especially suited to in world fun.

    I hope mine is listening!and rading this! ;^) lol

  8. Zahngold Wert said,

    Howdy! This post could not be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate!

    He continually kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.
    Pretty sure he’s going to have a great read. Thanks for sharing!

  9. dating asia said,

    If the divorced man has children, know up front you will at
    some point be affected by this. For as long as persons actually meet in person – then dating online
    really isn’t any different from “real life”.
    You should avoid being thought of as clingy or distressed.

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