The Thought Refuse

A Virtual Repository for the Mind

Second Life: Relationships In Hyper Speed

with 17 comments

Anyone familiar with the game Second Life will agree that it is equally part intriguing and equally part mind numbing.  On one hand, Second Life exists as an endless journey of the imagination, where whatever the mind can fathom, can be created with enough hard work and patience.  Yet, on the converse side, and for a large majority of Second Life inhabitants, it is a glorified internet dating chat room.  It is this relationship aspect of Second Life that is it’s greatest and worst characteristic.

Consider the following facts:

  1. The average Second Life intimate relationship lasts, on average, two months.
  2. The average time between Second Life relationships is two to three weeks.
  3. 90% of rebound relationships outside of Second Life fail.

If you have never delved into the virtual world of Second Life, you should still find this striking, and draw one glaring conclusion from these three facts – relationship stability in Second Life is a near impossibility.  It also raises numerous questions.

One curious aspect of relationship’s within SL is that love seems to be abundant.  If you inspect any random players profile it will most likely contain loving words of affection for another person.  But if you were to check that same person’s profile in a few months time, there is a high probability that those feelings of love for that particular person will be missing.  Love in Second Life has this fleeting and finite characteristic just as it does in real life.  Except it is amplified ten fold.

Lust and infatuation crop up regularly in real life in personal relationships.  Those first six months to a year in a relationship are exciting and new.  Eventually, what was perceived as love evaporates.  It is no different in SL, but what would explain why a relationship professed to be true love last a considerably shorter period of time then a real life relationship?

Second Life does suffer from the same thawing effect, but to understand why it happens at such an increased speed requires a bit more examination.  A large portion of the explaination can be found in the nature of Second Life.  As stated previously, SL can offer a wide range of possibilities for activities, but that presupposes some effort and work on the part of the player to either mold their own experience through self-creation or studious exploration.

There is a massive amount of junk in Second Life.  Wading through all the garbage to find a single gratifying experience can be just as tedious as actually creating your own.  It should come as no surprise to know that a vast majority of SL players do not want to want to have to trade effort for pleasure.  Instead, most wander about.

Second Life, minus it’s creations, then becomes merely a collection of people – a massive chat room with no particular linear construction.  And, hence, most SL players spend their time meeting and talking to other players.

Now consider that a considerable portion of SL players possess real life’s that are dissatified.  Second Life, for them, is a search for friendship, companionship, and love.  Real life, unable to fulfill their emotional needs, becomes a secondary endeavor for them, and their Second Life takes priority.  They spend an inordinate amount of time within the game, and an excessive amount of time interacting with other people.

In real life, a person has a job and responsibilities to attend to.  Their time and energy is naturally limited.  A real life relationship is constrained by these limitations.  No such limitations exist for the serious Second Life player.  It is here where we can find why Second Life relationships have a shelf-life so amazingly shorter then in real life.

During that initial period in a relationship, getting to know the other person occurs between the daily tasks of life.  Your time together is restricted to maybe an hour or two during the week with the bulk  of time spent together limited to the weekends baring any plans with family and friends.  In Second Life, couples will spend some 4-8 hours a day together just talking.  They might visit a club and dance, or check out a clothing store, but all that is a distraction from getting to know one each other.

SL relationships travel the fast track.  They are relationships in hyperspeed as compared to real life.  Left with nothing but talking, two people get close exceedingly quickly and the word “love” emerges in no time at all.  This can be considered a benefit, but it also serves as a death sentence to the relationship because after a couple months of nothing but talking, that embryonic lust period wears off equally quickly, and the relationship comes to a screeching end.

I know personally SL players who are geniunely destroyed by heartache the end of these relationships bring.  The feelings are real.  The pain is no less hurtful then in real life.  If they happen to forge ahead in SL, they are sent back into a sea of people, where they will undoubtedly find someone else.

As anyone who has experienced the pain the end of relationship causes knows that a quick band-aid is to meet someone new.  To forget is to not remember and nothing works better then a new relationship.  This is the rebound relationship.  Yet, for as immediate as the quelling of heartbreak the rebound relationship affords, it is destined to fail.  It’s not difficult to understand why.  A rebound is simply a attempt to satisfy a selfish need without particular regard to the actual relationship.

This is the endless cycle Second Life relationships can rarely break from.  There are the exceptions to the rule, but those are extreme outliers.  For most SL players, their existence is a repeated burst of misconstrued love followed by wallowing tears brought on by a broken heart.

These very same people, who engage in self-deprecating relationships in SL, will be the first to tell you that they want don’t want drama.  What they fail to understand is that, when a relationship is placed into hyper speed, it’s problems crop up with greater frequency.  This is perceived as drama.  It appears constant and incessant.

As a Second Life player, I can only shake my head at the people I see who are in a neverending state of relationship flux – in love for a few months, heartbroken for a couple weeks, and back in love with someone else.  They seem to miss the important point that everything in Second Life occurs at a ten fold speed over real life.

Relationships in SL can be a beautiful and wondrous thing, but far too often they reach an unwary demise.  This is not to say that every relationship found in this virtual world is worth holding on to.  I am saying that, if you want a relationship in Second Life to last and work, it will require patience and diligence to understand that problems, as any relationship encounters, proceed at an elevated rate.  Rather then perceiving these problems to be a sign that the relationship is untenable, it is better to expect and devote yourself with the strength to tackle them more frequently.

That is what the conundrum of spending such large amounts of time with another person – everything is accelerated.

Written by huxbux

April 1, 2009 at 6:51 pm

17 Responses

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  1. As you suggest relationship flux isn’t only relevant in Second Life; we experience it all the time. To be honest, I’ve never played Second Life, but I imagine I’ll create a character someday and give it a try. Glad to see you’re still keeping up with the blog.

    David Lamb

    April 4, 2009 at 2:19 am

  2. Interesting blog, nice design, i have bookmarked it for the future referrence

    UFC betting

    April 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm

  3. I follow your blog for quite a long time and should tell you that your posts are always valuable to readers.

    Ex Boyfriend

    April 9, 2009 at 10:41 am

  4. Your spelling and grammar are so bad I couldn’t finish reading it.


    April 22, 2009 at 7:30 am

    • I’m looking for a full time editor. Are you available?


      April 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm

  5. This has been a very excellent read.

    It’s not often that I run into someone who thinks or sees Second Life in such a way. I’ve been watching those situations happen on and off since beta.

    It’s only become larger with the expansion and explosion of the population.

    My biggest fear is people will perceive this type of hyperspeed relationship (2 months of “love” with someone and then zipping on to the next “love of their life”) as normal.

    As for the spelling/grammar comment. Is the read I am looking at right now the edited edition or what you wrote? It didn’t seem all that bad to me.

    Lynn Terra

    May 19, 2009 at 10:58 am

  6. Thanks for taking the time to read the article Lynn. Second Life is definitely interesting in little game. Something more akin to a sociological experiment in actuality.

    The version your reading now is post edit if memory serves me. I think I corrected two sentence structure mistakes.


    May 19, 2009 at 11:54 am

    • Well damn then, you don’t need some editor. You wrote the blog very well.

      I think the only reason that other person “couldn’t finish reading” your blog is because it actually stimulates brain cells, something they lack (besides maybe attention span).

      Lynn Terra

      May 20, 2009 at 10:44 am

      • Admittedly, I don’t take the greatest care in proofreading my blog, but I’m also not in the business of producing an ad revenue blog. It’s for my own personal self-expression.

        I’m glad you took something away from the article, Lynn. I guess “dude” didn’t, but those are the breaks, I guess. :)


        May 22, 2009 at 5:28 pm

  7. I have to agree with “dude”, that your grammar is really bad. But I did read the entire article (self-editing as I went). :>
    And you are correct about relationships within Second Life. My friends there and I joke about it often.

    I came into SL to further my actual career, but have enjoyed everything it has to offer. I continue to make friends and network with other people in my professional field. And, yes, within one month, someone scooped me up into a whirlwind relationship that I didn’t see coming. When I realized I was losing sleep over the union, I cut it short. I didn’t sign on for an emotional rollercoaster ride in hyperspeed!

    Now, I’ve refocused on my original intent. I have gotten other proposals of “hookups”, but decline them gracefully.

    BTW – Second Life is anythng but a “game”. :D

    Happy Blogging! (and I am available for part time editing if you ever desire it. :D)


    November 3, 2009 at 2:47 pm

  8. of course internet dating is the trend these days, you can meet lots of people on the internet ‘`’

    Roof Helmet

    December 2, 2010 at 4:53 am

  9. Second life is perceived as a game due to cartoon like avatars but it is definitely NOT a game. Its an Alternate reality where feelings, emotions, passions and time is spent as is in real life, building, creating, nurturing, relating and commmunicating with only with the avatars themselves being the representation of the physical self. The hyperspeed that you speak of its probably only 6 times faster, but the pure mindspeak of communication in sl in essence in most cases or “on average” as you say, leads to more honest and deeper level of understanding in a relationship than in real life due to the people that are committed to that. Managing that relationship is the key so if you see each other constantly and burn each other out by finally running out of things to communicate about with each other and not balance yourself with a variety of your other friends as in real life, you only have yourself to blame. While i recognize that all people lie, after a short conversation with someoone in sl you quickly learn if you want to spend or waste time with that person. Faster than in real life as body language is 60% of communication and those barriers arent really found in sl. But in the end the switch on switch off mode of sl even tho its not a game and relationships formed on trust, emotions etc are created.. still comes into play and the need for the user to get a quick fix after they (men and women) have got the drug they desire for whatever task sl offers, they move on to the next adventure. Essentially sl is not bad, its really a utopia, just the humans havent learned how to live there yet.


    March 23, 2011 at 6:50 am

  10. The average SL relationship lasts two months? I am going on four years with my online bf. Perhaps the reason for this is that we do not play for hours a day- we get together for a couple of hours, two or three times a week. Also it depends upon the person and the amount of commitment you have to the relationship. Just like it real life you have to realize that people aren’t perfect, that honeymoons do not last forever, and that problems will occur that you have to weather.

    Perhaps the reason Second Life romances tend to be brief is that people go to Second Life looking for something that is better than reality. People create in Second Life things that they cannot experience in the real world- a perfect body without exercise, a million dollar mansion for $10 a month, elf ears, wings, eternal youth, it’s all possible in a world you create yourself out of pixels. Perhaps people think that the perfect relationship can be created in the same way. If you can create a body that never fades and dies, can you create a relationship that never fades and dies? No, you can’t. The human heart behaves the same way in Second Life as it does in real life.

    just me

    October 2, 2011 at 8:14 am

  11. Second life can be fun. I created a female avatar specifically so I didn’t fall into an SL relationship. Not interested in guys so that wasn’t a problem.

    By and large I treated my avatar as someone different to me, but like a family member. I’d feel moderately concerned if I thought she might be lonely, for example. I’d feel when I was in world that I was keeping her company, not actually operating her. I was almost like an author with a principal female character.

    My avvie was harrassed by guys on the few occasions I went to clubs but she learnt to look after herself.

    She’d explain that although she was a real woman, like Pussy Galore for example, she was also a captive of the man writing her script, and her would-be suitors would be suddenly called back to the real world or just vanish via TP.

    Lesbian suitors did the same. Maybe they thought Pussy Galore was just a man in drag. Anyway, I had loads of fun in SL and made a heap of friends. But I didn’t have a single relationship. No-one wanted to get it on with an essentially fictional character, even though they actually did every day with someone else.


    July 6, 2013 at 2:58 am

  12. I’ve been in 2nd Life going on 6yrs… I have been with my SL partner going on 6yrs in world and going on 5yrs in RL… It is true that there are a majority of relationships that don’t end well in world or many that have broken up in RL because of the Virtual Reality World of Second Life. The problem with most relationships in world is that they rush into all the sexual intimate things without getting to know one another.. Some people think that its nothing but a game, but there are real people behind the avatars with real feelings… There is a saying that a lot of people use in SL that I don’t agree with and it goes like this ” SL is SL and RL is RL” but it’s just not true, because if that was the case then so many hearts wouldn’t be broken.
    Another thing people need to be honest with each other because if someone falls in love for real and then they find out that the person isn’t who they claim to be, it can really mess with someone’s mind, heart and soul.

    Lady Diamond Destiny

    January 9, 2014 at 4:52 pm

  13. Reblogged this on Ladydiamonddestiny's Blog.


    January 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm

  14. First off, can I state right now: Second Life is NOT a Game!!! You don’t earn points, you don’t level up, there is no goal, you can’t “regenerate” unless you start over….from scratch!
    Secondly: Your sweeping generalizations turns a completely blind eye to those relationships in-world that have outlasted your abbreviated time line. Some of us actually are well aware SL is fantasy of our own making. What kills SL relationships fastest are two things: Drama and Lack of Communication. Interestingly enough…these are the same things that cause most RL relationships to end prematurely as well. Hmm…go figure!


    January 9, 2014 at 7:18 pm

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