Have you ever fallen in love online? Have you ever met that someone on an MMO that excited you to the point where the addiction of the game mixed with the addiction to discovery of this desirable stranger creates a high so strong that your heart skips just to see that special someone's name pop up on your friends list, to where you ache to hear that Ventrilo voice, to where you get turned on just by flirting while your game fueled creative mind is ready to race into realms of dream-time in a wave of delight, allure, and pleasure that the dingy world of Earth so rarely offers in this lifetime?
Um, me neither.
But, you know, should that happen, the Dungeon Curmudgeon here has some tips on how to handle your iFeelings for your iBabe or iBeaux for when you're together in the heart but not together in the flesh, accumulated from years of watching virtual romances become real or not-so-real love.
Get a room.
Specifically, get your own chat channel, Ventrilo channel, or some kind of hot key for that someone special. Put a password on that, then put a better password on it. Privacy is no easy feat on line, but it is paramount when you're having private time. You may say that this seems obvious, but nothing stops an instance run cold like someone who forgot to /reply when sharing a particularly personal, juicy detail about particularly detailed, personal juices.
Oh yes: and if it happens, you'll never live it down.
If you have an existing relationship, cyb0rzing with other people is cheating.
Cyb0rz is phone sex in a visual medium, kids. If you caught your significant other having phone sex with someone else, and you'd go berserk, then keep your distance from that hottie 5000 miles and two continents away. Seriously, one duo at a time.
However, if you do feel tempted, it might be time to consider how you feel about your RL relationship. Time to count your blessings and wonder if they're worth what you've invested in them. They may be asking the same question about the 40 hours a week you're putting on line if they aren't playing with you.
- Find out what you can about your virtual opposite if you're feeling serious.
What I mean by that is that if you're Jonesing for someone, then by all means talk to them via a chat program to determine if they are close to who they say they are. Then swap photos via e-mail. Hell, create a dummy Yahoo! or g-mail account for such things if you're leery. My point is that most of the Internet horror stories you hear are based on people who don't do their homework going to meet that sweet young thing that turns out to be Mack the Knife or Herbert the Pervert. If they don't want to reveal themselves, then have nothing to do with them. I don't care how else you feel about them -- they aren't anyone you'd want to hang around with if they won't be honest with you. This goes double if they insist on saving all of that until meeting in person.
That aside, no matter how much we get the ideal of loving someone for who they are shoved on us, physical attraction matters. If someone doesn't do it for you, they don't do it for you, and vice versa. It's sad, but it happens. Shake it off and don't take it personally.
Remember that you have something in common -- games!
As opposed to those who fish photos and pray for the best through the likes of Match.com or whatever, if you are meeting on an online game, you know you share the treasure of a love for games and have no reason to hide it. Geekiness has really become mainstream in the last ten years or so (which in the case of trail blazers of geekdom like yours truly, it means that it sucks to be ahead of my time). If you are a gamer geek, odds are you are also a sci-fi geek of some flavor (Star Wars, Star Trek, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), or fantasy geek (Lord of the Rings, Discworld, or Harry Potter anyone?), or have a love of Monty Python or something else twisted but benign provided it is not repeated 83,114 times. If you can keep your fanboi reflex from going off on a 45 minute diatribe on the precise frame that Bruce Lee was most awesome in Enter the Dragon and actually keep a dialogue going, you can ride this gooey, joyful wave of geekiness into bliss if you're lucky.
Note: there are potential romantic partners out there who want to flex that Enter the Dragon thing as much as you do. Just approach the subject carefully. If you're feeling the relationship is being choked, especially by the feeling of two thumbs pressed firmly against your larynx, then it's probably time to give your partner space.
You're the ones that make the thing work, no matter how far apart you are.
A friend of mine I know from both the virtual and real worlds once told me that she believes that love does not conquer all. No it doesn't. But it is a reason to go forth and conquer all.
Just ask Menelaus of Sparta.
Love is work, even virtual love. You will be together as much as you decide to make it happen. People's approval, a need to finish some project or part of your education, and distance are all surmountable obstacles if you decide that they are and show some patience. No, you don't have to sacrifice your future for this one person in the present, but you can make it work if you want to. Do you want to? Beats me. That's up to you. In the end, though, people vote with their feet and not with their words. Someone worth putting in the footwork for you is worth considering.
In short, treat them like they were on your dungeon team. If they hold up their end, keep 'em. If they are always AFK for bad reasons or ninja loot or something, boot 'em, no matter how much they apologize. It's not rocket science or Balrog slaying.
If you are considering an online wedding...
Then think again. I say this because, in my experience, they are usually silly, empty exercises in ersatz role-playing in which one party is infatuated and another is kindly humoring the other. Role-playing melodrama is even emptier than real melodrama. What's more the party doing the humoring has more often than not been in for some ugly surprises later.
However, if the two of you are quite serious, then refer to number 5 above. Happy Valentine's Day!