Romances That Began In A Far-Away Land
Other players go on to talk about how the virtual environment allows you to get to know a person better because of the safe space it creates and because it gets rid of prejudicial first impressions and thus we get to know a person for who they really are.
I am currently engaged to a man I met in EQ. It started when my guildmaster asked his troll warrior to join us in a group. We hit it off right away and were friends for about six months when we realized we had much in common. We decided to meet in real life about six months after we met in game. This relationship was different from other relationships I've had in that it was based on similarities in values and ethics as we discussed first online, then by phone, rather than by a physical attraction. Meeting them in an MMORPG environment made it easier to get to know him. [EQ, F, 51]
I am engaged to marry a man that I met in EQ. We have spent sufficient time together RL to know this is the right decision for us, even though we have lived our lives on opposite sides of the planet (US and Australia). Having each been married before, and being older (I'm 41, he's 32) we believe that this relationship will succeed, although the absence of the 'traditional path to marriage' has created unique challenges and stresses for us. We are both fortunate to have a great deal of relevant education (both have degrees in psychology) and a great deal of personal insight to sustain us -- this would be infinitely harder without either. I definitely came to know my fiancÚ more as a person, and he me, in EQ than we would likely have in RL (assuming that we'd even stumbled on each other despite living 10,000 miles apart). Indeed, RL biases would have likely caused both of us to ignore the other had we just encountered each other -- this is sadly the way the world works with people of different ages, races and religions. The virtual world, in which all the stereotypes and prejudices were minimized because you have no idea how the other person looks or sounds for a long time, allowed those ingrained visual and auditory prejudices to take a back seat to real-time information processing about the other, our values, beliefs and feelings. I think that this mandatory filtering of conscious and unconscious 'attraction habits' or 'attraction stereotypes' played a great role in our romantic relationship beginning at all, even though now it thrives only because we purposefully apply the same levels of disclosure, candor and intimacy when we are together that we first became comfortable with while faceless and nameless in EQ. Unlike many 'traditional couples' the only way to make a relationship survive without face-to-face, day-to-day interaction is *constant* communication and, assuming that neither party to the relationship is engaged in deception, that constant communication actually gives you a leg-up on many couples who marry in haste and repent in leisure. If a virtual couple with a RL relationship don't talk, and share, and deepen your intimacy through words there is nothing else to fall back on, unlike many RL based couples who are ill-suited but hide their problems through sex, drugs, avoidance, large crowds and other tools to avoid genuine intimacy -- especially the downside of it -- that romance tends to encourage. By the time he and I finally met face to face, 3 years ago now, we each felt like we'd known each other all our lives. Still didn't stop us from being giddy though =) [EQ, F, 41]
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