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The "Impossible" Romance

Creating Possibilities: Part Two

There was another kind of "impossible relationship" that was made possible in virtual worlds. As we saw earlier, many respondents felt that the virtual environment deemphasized external qualities (such as physical appearance) and made it easier to get a sense of another person's internal qualities (such as personality and intelligence).

I tend to see real life relationships as more superficial.. Well, I was in high school then too. :) Seeing everyone get together for cause the other was 'hot', or to become more popular. I do not agree with that. Falling in love with someone online, before I even knew what they looked like ... it just seemed the best possible way to really know it was HIM I loved ... not just his looks, or what it could do for my reputation. [EQ2, F, 20]

Some respondents described this as getting to know someone from the inside out - a reversal of how things typically progress in relationships that start F2F.

This was certainly by far the deepest and most meaningful relationship I'd had, partly because I think, we talked about everything that mattered before we had any chance to have a physical relationship (sounds awfully near 'no sex before marriage', but it wasn't really like that, and we didn't get married until we'd lived with each other for two years). [WoW, M, 28]

In other relationships that started offline they were much more heated and physical at first and then finding what we would have in common. Meeting someone online is different if they are truly honest with you - which in most cases people are not honest. We found that we already knew a ton about each other by the time we met so we had a lot to talk about and share. [WoW, F, 29]

In fact, this process of "inside-out" made possible many relationships that would never have started if they began "outside-in". Many respondents suggested that they would never have given their partners the chance to learn about the inner qualities that they now love them for had they met F2F.

I probably would not have developed this relationship in RL. She isn't my typical love interest but because I got to know her emotionally first, I was able to find someone that was a perfect fit. [EQ2, M, 32]

Ironically, we would not have had a relationship if we had first met at a party or something. Neither of us was the other's 'type', and our age difference would have been obvious and a barrier to both of us. [WoW, F, 59]

I would never have dated this person in real life. Totally different worlds. I am a grad student and he works in the service industry. Our paths would not have crossed. We lived in different countries. This is the relationship :) On the outside we seem totally opposite. But we work so well on the inside. I guess that is what comes of meeting inside out :p [WoW, F, 25]

I doubt we would have had a relationship if we had met in real life. At first glance, I'd say he definitely wasn't my type. Too nice, too accommodating, without a sense of adventure. I would have pigeonholed him without ever giving him a chance. [WoW, F, 25]

It is ironic that the norm of F2F relationships makes it easy for some to argue that virtual relationships are necessarily superficial. But as these narratives show, the absence of physical cues can in fact make relationships less focused on superficial qualities between people who are in fact highly compatible.

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Posted on August 29, 2006 | Comments (33) | TrackBack (0)

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