I am looking at love and sex in virtual worlds, from my own standpoint and experiences.
While I play a character in virtual worlds that I am not nor ever could be in the outworld, my basic values and personality are the same inworld as they are, outworld. While I may roleplay my ass off, while I may be able to emulate and assume the outlook of the Fae, the way I treat others inworld is essentially the same as how I'd treat them outworld.
As y'all know, Willy and I broke up, and it wasn't till I had some experiences with other people, and had a chance to do some deep soul-searching, that I realized buried outworld problems had very much bled into the inworld environment. Realization is half the solution, so once I realized those things, I used the tools I've honed over the years to bring it all to consciousness and dispatch with it.
Of course, I didn't do this alone. I have a small handful of very close friends who let me rant, rave, and bounce things off them and get them in the open air - and this helped me resolve the long-standing problems.
I also had two lovers, whom while I am sure were fulfilling their own needs at the same time, extended some true unconditional support and affection to me when I needed it the most - when I was rebuilding my self-perception after taking myself apart.
This has enabled me to reconcile with Willy, and for us to frankly talk through, apologize for, and move beyond the tremendously rough patch we had late last year. Our relationship bond is even deeper than it was, before, and I believe we've both achieved a much more realistic and deeper understanding of one another.
Those who try to draw a big black line between inworld and outworld are trying to compartmentalize. Sorry, but your thoughts and feelings don't stop at one and take up at another. They cross that border, and are real and valid in both environments - and whatever is eating at you outworld can and WILL spill over into inworld relationships.
For the rare individual who comes inworld to do and achieve that which is frankly impossible outworld, no matter the money or resources, there are a thousand who come inworld to further outworld dreams that are beyond their reach.
It's the second category that can be a problem, especially for those of us who are here to stretch our imaginations to the fullest.
Now, I cannot blame those who use a virtual world to be prettier, or more popular, or to live in an exotic environment they could never afford outworld. To each their own, right? The time(s) I have a problem with these folks is when their "human-ness" is "offended" by my other-worldliness, my imagination. People who are fearful of "otherness" outworld, and twice as fearful of it, inworld. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Once, long ago, I went to a job center to put up ad boards for our club. Now, I play a Fae Cat inworld; I have pointy ears, cat eyes, and a tail. I'm minding my own business, when some guy that looks like he just stepped out of a beachside health resort IMs me and says "Take off that tail and I have a job for you." Now, that tail was as much a part of my inworld identity as my cat eyes and pointy ears, and here was Mr. Golden Boy assuming I was either wearing it for decoration or to "get attention" or something else I consider to be personally shallow. I found myself quite offended; I kept my offense to myself and simply told him I was there to place ad boards, not to look for a job.
I know of many cross-gender people who enjoy virtual worlds as a way to express their "other side" or a gender they feel but are not in real life. I wish I had a dollar for every time their real-world gender got out to what I will call "normies" only to be used as a weapon against them. I don't care HOW old some people are - they are just as petty and childish inworld as out, and will bully someone who is peaceably enjoying their cross-gender interactions.
Lastly there is a real hate-on by some "normies" for things like furries, dragons, and other characters completely of the fantasy realm. Not only will they refuse to associate with anything that "isn't human" - again, they will bully those who wish to express themselves as another creature entirely. Their imagination is so closed off, they are so narrow-minded, that they just cannot comprehend wanting to be such a thing.
I don't make these things up, nor are they completely confined to just one virtual world.
That brings me around to love, again. Just tonight, Willy and I visited a popular club on Second Life, and there was a gargoyle-ish creature enjoying some time with an avatar that was quite human. While that doesn't bother me, I know it would cause a furor with others - just like the idea of a furry and "human" being in love would.
If you find yourself squicked out by such things, ask yourself why. Are you likewise offended by other cultures outworld? Why? What have they ever done to you, personally?
Another thing that happens in virtual worlds is the practice of "using" it to have affairs you don't dare have in real life, or face some real consequences. For some, their spouses have no idea what they're up to; for others, the spouses know, but hey, it's better that way than in real life, right? Some can dismiss it as nothing but fantasy, especially if they're not likewise involved in a virtual world and have no idea how feelings and thoughts travel back and forth.
Some could say that, for a brief time, I "used" virtual worlds for much the same thing, and perhaps in ways I did. I'd torn myself apart and resolved some problems and damage, and I did need the help and love of others to put myself back together, again. However, I never forgot that my lovers were real people, and I endeavored to appreciate what they shared with me.
In both cases, the relationships were with men who were married in real life, and seeking love and affection inworld that they aren't getting outworld. In one case, the wife knows and doesn't seem to mind; in the other case, it's obvious, at least to me, that the wife has no idea, because any time there was a chance of outworld discovery, the connection was severed.
The second case seems to have come to an end. When Willy and I began to reconcile, I let this man know what I was doing, always endeavoring to be open and honest. I honestly believed I had more than a sexual relationship with this man, and yet, for the brief time I was absent, he was obviously unhappy with the lack of sex and took up with someone else. He didn't have to tell me he'd done so; when we finally got the chance to speak about what happened, he alluded to ignoring his own needs in favor of mine. Our conversation was held in a semi-private place outside my home; when I offered to move our discussion to my quarters, he declined, and he ended our discussion roughly an hour after it had begun, excusing himself. He didn't log off, so it's natural to assume he had a prior date with another. I have not heard from him, since.
The first case is ongoing, but I may bring an end to it. While we have indeed spent time dancing in various venues and genres, virtually every one of our encounters ends in sex. I know more of the outworld situation in this case, and because of what I know, I can safely conclude that this man is in a virtual world to have the kind of sexual polyamorous relationships he could never have outworld, lest his marriage fall apart.
I am a complex person who is deeply spiritual, and I require a bond, a connection, before sex can really become fulfilling. I have never been the type of person to pursue sex for the sake of sex, either inworld, or out. This is yet another facet of my personality that is constant regardless of the interaction platform.
My first sex scenes occurred years ago in a purely textual format, so my skill with that developed right along with my skill at general textual roleplay. Both are a natural extension of my writing ability, and have improved over the years the more people I roleplay and interact with. In virtually every case, there was at least a bit of a bond with the person and it wasn't "just about the sex" - rather the sex was a part of the relationship between that person's character and my own.
I have also found that when attempting to extend things into an offline situation, one can run into all kinds of conflicts and complexities. In one case, the person was actually cheating on their girlfriend, and, after the weekend I spent with them, they dropped me online. They'd gotten what they wanted.
In another case, the person had worn out their welcome with the people they were staying with, and was looking for another household. They came and lived with me, even though they were a lot younger than I am. After about 4 years, we got married. A year and a half later, they left me for another woman.
Only one situation which began online led to something worthwhile offline, for me, and while we are now just roommates and friends, we are family to one another, and maintain a joint household.
While Willy's player and I are close friends, our relationship remains confined to the virtual world. That works out best for the two of us, as we are both mature enough to recognize that there would be difficulties were we to try to take it outworld.
The two men I was involved with also do not desire offworld relationships - but do they really desire inworld relationships, beyond sex? Both presented themselves as though so, but looking back on both from a little distance, I have to say no. Perhaps they'd like to think they do, but when it comes down to brutal reality, they're inworld for the sex they can't safely have offworld.
There are a LOT of people who use virtual worlds to have lots and lots of sex, and while that might be good for some, it's not good for all. While it is true that it's the safest sex on the planet - no STDs, pregnancy entirely optional and, in most cases, no messy divorces - I would say there are far more people out there desiring a deeper connection than not.
When I first immersed myself in Second Life, I didn't do it with the idea of having lots and lots of sex, though a lot of people do that when they first immerse themselves. Yes, it's a novelty. It's three-dimensional pr0n. I wasn't interested in pure 3d-pr0n so I didn't engage in sex until I got involved with Willy. Then, we were building a relationship, which actually went somewhere, with roleplay, and goals, etc. A bond that wasn't there "just for the sex".
No...I don't believe I "used" these two men...I believe we came together to enjoy each other and fulfill our personal needs. I have moved beyond that point, and that's probably why I'm no longer charmed by the idea of sex for the sake of sex, even if it's decorated with other trappings like the occasional dance. There is nothing wrong with that. I've let both know how much I appreciate the gifts of physical love and affection they gave me, and how their gifts helped me to restore essential parts of myself.