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Posts Tagged ‘friendships’

A few days back a Second Life friend asked me a question about his real life: Should he risk turning a friendship into a love affair? It’s a question I’ve been asked by a lot of both Second Life and real life friends. The risks involved are many – maybe the person doesn’t feel the same way and you loose their friendship, maybe the love affair turns sour and you loose their friendship – but it comes down to the same thing: Is the chance of love and realised lust worth losing someone who may otherwise be a life-long friend?

Of course, some risks are worth taking, and love is always a risky and amazing thing. It takes a lot of bravery and confidence to tell someone you love them, and many people go through their lives never saying the words to the people who mean the most to them.

One of the problems with trying to advise someone on whether they should risk an incredible and potentially life-long friendship with someone, “just” to turn it into love and a romp in the sack, is that you don’t know if you will still be friends in a few months time regardless – friendships evolve and change, because people’s lives and people themselves evolve and change.

With so many unknowns the first step to take is to try to eliminate some of them. First off, trying to figure out if the feelings are reciprocated in the way the love-struck person hopes. If they are not and the love-struck friend still wants advice on whether to push the matter, then the answer becomes easy: No. Unrequited love is immensely painful, but adding to that hurt the complete loss of a friend because of the pressure and awkwardness placed upon them by trying to “make them love you”, is ill-advised. I can see a good argument for trying to get the loved-person out of their life altogether if their attraction to them is too strong and the person in love is pained by seeing their friend be with other lovers, but you are best doing this on your own terms, and not because the friend had to push you away themself.

Another unknown you can try to eliminate is whether the friend is going to be around much anyway – are they planning to leave the country forever perhaps whereby what the hell I’d put my foot in that fire and see what happens. Yes it might be hard to let them go if everything goes really well, but you would have had a damn good time in the meantime and can be all philosophical saying stuff like “guess it was never meant to be”. There’s also a stronger possibility they’ll come back for you or take you with them if there’s mutual love involved, compared to friendships which rarely survive long-distance separations as the two lives head off in different directions in more ways than one.

Of course, a key consideration is the person themself. If the love-object is a good hearted kind soul who wouldn’t push someone away out of the awkwardness of declared love, the sort of person who understands that a very large number of close friendships do actually have a sort of attraction at their basis and beginning, then there can be the constant fun flirting underneath it all which can give you a sort of mix of both worlds. Definitely not the “best” of both worlds, but a close second-best. These sorts of people are perfect for trying the love thing out in substance too, because chances are you’ll retain a friendship with them after the love affair ends as well. Unfortunately these sorts of people are all too rare and I wouldn’t count on the person being one of them.

I think within that last paragraph is the key to the matter – remembering that very often friendships do have that underlying attraction at first (and perhaps through-out as well), and to realise that every time you feel that way doesn’t mean it’s a great lover you’ve found, but rather just a sign that it’s someone much like yourself that you want to be around, and just enjoy that for what it is.

Just to confuse matters further, my last major point is that some of my best relationships, no, all of my best relationships, were with people who started off as friends. For all the great loves of my life I had to wrestle with this question: What do I do, risk the friendship for the love affair..? I’d love to end it there and say that every time I tried to turn a friendship into love that it worked out right, but I had to learn the harsh lessons along the way that these situations can also lead to great hurt and damage to a friendship, even killing it. One of the reasons for this all-too-frequent outcome is that men have trouble saying no when sex is involved. Not all men, true, but a rather significant majority seem to suffer from the temporary insanity of giving in when offered sex, even by a friend. And as awesome as sex is, it also typically complicates things as hormones kick ideas like jealousy, uncertainty, self-doubt, wilful blindness, into overdrive, and if you’re not both really into the potential love-gig, someone’s very likely to get rather badly hurt pretty quickly.

So where does that leave the friends who ask my advice? Probably as confused as they started out (aren’t I helpful). At the end of the day it comes down to two key considerations: The actual natures of the people involved, and the understanding that love always involves risk of some sort. Sometimes, you just gotta jump into the abyss. And to my friends who have asked me this question and are now reading this, please know as well that I am one friend who will be there for you to hug you and be all philosophical with you if it doesn’t quite turn out the way you’d hoped ❤

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Time Intensity

There is something unusual about SL that makes sense the more you contemplate it. It’s what I’m going to call “time intensity”. In SL a week feels the equivalent to about a month in RL. This is true of friendships and relationships in particular.

It’s very easy to strike up what feels like an intense and genuine friendship in a matter of an hour, to be seduced in a matter of two hours, to fall in love in a matter of days. Hell, I even know people who got SL married in less than a week of meeting each other, let alone partnering which is done at the flick of a wrist by some. There’s a lot of reasons for this: The lack of RL issues that get in the way – looks, smell, hell you don’t even have to pause to eat, you can type right through those mouthfuls, and the fact that you can spend excessive amounts of time together because you’re already at home anyway and probably winding down for the day, with hours ahead of you to fill that many other people would just be using to watch tv. It’s pure personality. Which of course is also why some people are instantly annoying, not everyone’s got a interesting or compatible personality.

Of course the other side of this intensity is the question of just how real it is: Is it a meaningful friendship – will you ever actually talk to each other again or just sit on each other’s friend lists forever more (which happens a lot). And of stronger consequence, is the “love” real, especially when you’ve never met each other or even seen each other’s RL pictures yet. And again, that topic – SL love – is one I’ll come back to later, since it is both fascinating, and often consequential for people’s RLs.

In my experience, the really meaningful SL friendships take as long as RL friendships do to develop. Looking back, the people I care about and genuinely consider friends, are the people I’ve known for months. In fact, I’m going to go one step further here and say because of the intensity of SL, the deception that occurs so often about who people really are in RL, that I trust them less than people I meet in RL and therefore the real friendships probably take even longer to establish than they do in RL! Woah, I think I just went round in a  funky circle, you’re doing well if you stayed seated 😀

Oooh, and now, in the process of writing this I have reached a new conclusion (welcome to my stream of consciousness :p). The fact that relationships in SL last maybe 3 weeks where similar RL relationship lengths amount to 3 months, is not “just” a reflection of the time intensity of SL, it is also, and probably more so, a reflection of the lack of genuineness, honesty and information involved from the outset, which is also a natural part of SL and ties in to the time factor.

My head hurts >.<

Conclusion: SL is not like RL, time gets muddly, it’s easy to pass hours in SL and think it’s only being minutes in RL, and it’s easy to feel close to someone you’ve never met and probably never will meet. This SL existence thing is tricky! *Goes off to get some Panadol*

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