Breaking Up is Hard To Do–And Even Harder in Second Life

August 18, 2008 at 2:39 pm (Communication, dishonesty, Friendship, Infidelity, Integrity, Life, Love, Polyamory, Relationships, Second Life) (, , , )

Love and loss are central themes of thousands of blog posts peppering the web. And many folks–whether Second Life avatars or real humans in the flesh–use their blogs as a platform to publicly process their parting-of-ways. One of the trends I’ve noticed when witnessing these abrogation of affairs is that many people experience some definitive act–like betrayal or dishonesty–that prompts them to dissolve their previously fantastic flings. And, as painful as these breakups are, those experiences follow a natural grief progression that helps the healing process proceed. Yet there are many other instances when lovers leave their flames in far less salient circumstances. And these situations, I assert, carve wounds that lie exposed to the elements longer and, are thus, harder to heal.

As you know, I’ve promised never to bore you with gory details of my own real or Second lives on these blog pages. But between myself and other friends, I’ve recently observed–or experienced–romantic relationships in both SL & RL that have either withered or been abruptly dismantled, leaving one or more of the partners reeling in the breakup wake. These experiences–or “soul extractions” as my friend calls them–are a bit different from the typical breakup because there is no one person or event to blame. And this leaves the lover(s) stunned and unclear what to do next–and thus unable to move through typical stages of grief.

As I discuss these scenerios imagine yourself, my dear reader, as the subject of the experiences. Now picture yourself in the twitterpated excitement of an intense new romance; your mind curious and thirsty to know him or her better and your heart aflutter at the anticipation of this amazing new person. You blush at the mere thought of them texting you sweet nothings and spend your days marveling at how lucky you are they have suddenly graced your life. Now imagine this goes along for quite awhile…the intensity increasing with each exchange. You may even enjoy real glimpses of your lover; photos emailed or even smiles exchanged via webcam in the darkened corner of your home office. Then one day….nothing. Crickets. Dialtone. You reach out repeatedly with no response. And you feel numb. And confused. And hurt.

Now imagine you’ve met another sweet sweet friend–one who makes you laugh until tears stream down your face and your stomach and side muscles ache in a good way. You forge a close friendship, share details of who you each are and how you each came to be, and begin to care about what happens to them during their days and nights not spent with you. Then, because you are conscientious people, you realize you might care a little too much. And you mutually decide to part ways. Their absence in  your life rips your heart open leaving a gaping hole where that joy used to be. And you feel numb. And confused. And hurt.

As I read this back it sounds like a I’m having a pity party. I assure you I hate those and would never attend one even if I was invited as the guest of honor and my favorite band Galactic was playing and Christian Bale was there alone and wanted to meet me (ok, well maybe then). I’m merely curious as to why it seems so difficult to get over romances and the wonderful, provocative people we come in contact with when we do it for the right reasons. It appears to me that, because we can’t logically get angry (since we don’t have real reason to be)–and anger is a very useful emotion in the grief process–it prolongs the pain and compounds the process of healing.

So maybe this means we need to get mad–not at the people but perhaps at the situations. Take a moment in our grief to throw around that blame and rage we’ve bottled up inside. And then move on and look at what we’ve learned about ourselves in the process and through the experience. And, even after that, be grateful we’ve lived life–both real and virtual–so fully and felt so deeply. Some people don’t even get that. And that does leave you feeling numb. And who wants to go through life like that?

Be sure to share your own comments and experiences. Helps us all get through the grief, ya know?


  1. T Bade said,

    Your display of openness and willingness to look inward has answered the question I always pose to you, “How’d you get to be so happy?” Imagine what others, who never look deeper, must make of such loss. It would be like walking through a dangerous jungle blindfolded.
    Thanks for the guidance; it’ll come in handy soon enough. I think I’ll put it in the glove box next to the First Aid kit so it’ll be handy for my next love wreck.

  2. Loki Popinjay said,

    Food for thought as usual …. I really digg your view on life and all it entails, but you know that …

    Guess braking up never is easy, whatever the reason and whatever it really meant …

  3. Zog Ozsvar said,

    In SL there are two solutions to this problem:

    1) Dont date


    2) Date and buy another few pairs of boots to compensate for your loss. As a mutual neighbour said to me recently “the whole SL economy is founded on boots”.

    Facetious comment on another thought-provoking article, but then what did you expect from me?!


  4. Cami Mahovlich said,

    I guess that must be why I’m so strange to many people in SL. After my breakups I allowed myself to get pissed off, whether at the person or the situation. I allowed myself to FEEL my emotions that yes SL does bring out in us, therefore accomplishing all the stages of grieving. Hmmmmm must be why when all is said and done, I am not left bitter and angry but at peace with what happened. And unlike many people I know truely over what happened and not just saying I am.

    Another great thought provoking entry…keep them coming :))


  5. ZenRascal said,

    Having just joined the ranks of “Burned By an SL Romance,” I’ve been surfing the web looking for ways to put things in perspective. Your blog is terrific, the best I’ve found! You’re writings are reasoned, balanced and convey a spirit of optimism. Thank you!

  6. Rumy said,

    Thanx for enlightening all of us about such an important topic which is creating havoc in our feelings…. Its so easy to be engulfed with lots of lovers there in SL and then you really feel like choosing the best among them. After doing that, if a break-up happens, you can imagine how painful it could be..After a life full of laughter. joys and discovery of yourself, when you are left with nothing just loneliness…. it is, indeed, heart breaking and more painful than RL in most cases. Thank God, our RL did not have this much independence 🙂

  7. Mason said,

    If you go into a relationship with BOTH parities knowing full well it is only temporary and will not be taken to RL, I think it will work out alright. But this understanding must take place first.

  8. Joy said,

    Nothing left to do but Smile, Smile, Smile……. Today my SL relationship came crashing down. I had shared an amazing 7 months with a dear close boyfriend. Your blog arrived on my screen today, like an angel sent to me, to remind me… that which I may have forgotten. Thank you Cin…… thank you for your thoughts…and wisdom.

  9. sadly shady said,

    I n a similar situation that keeps me up @ night wondering where it went wrong? Why i sabaotage all that is good in my life… WHY DO OTHERS have to suffer for the clogged up carbon fiters of my brain..Drama you might say?? Confusion,fear, Dishonesty can easily be confused with emotions that cannot be put into words.. Life is big .. as big as the universe and those beyond.. Could it be possible one is trapped between those worlds….Brain waves and negative energy placed 2 the right pressure points can cripple even the strongest connections…Peacocks, Imaginary sunrises, even stiffs madre still live on in alternate dimensions…. see you there Cindy….!/2 a dozen city bombs, a gallon of the Phinest tequila,Some Kiebel.. a scooby doo fishing pole, and a beastie boy soundtrack….. It plays on in reruns….Again, and again, and again……………………….Sorry you did nt deserve that baby..Where ever you may be.. The popcorn is delicious!

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