Is having a relationship in SL cheating on you rl partner?
I have been meaning to write SL relationships 101 for a long long time.
When asked by newbies about sex and intimate relationships in SL I suggest they think about it carefully... if they are single they need to be aware that those they get involved with may not be, may not even be the sex they say they are in rl, and may not even be single in SL... if the newby is in a relationship i counsel they ask themselves how their partner would feel if they were using a phone sex line while viewing cartoon porn... if their partner is fine with that (or they already have "rules of engagement" defined within their relationship) then go for it with all the usual warnings of relationships formed without face to face contact in meatspace.
Coming from a polyamourous relationship in RL I have experience with multiple partnerships, their joys and pitfalls and the level of honesty (both with one's self as well as one's partner/s) and depth of ongoing communication with all parties that it takes for any, and all, relationships in the net to survive, or at least not be detrimental to the well being of those involved.
Even so I have made my fair share of mistakes in SL relationships (for which I unreservedly apologise to those who I hurt), however, as in RL, I have endeavoured to learn from each of those mistakes and try not to repeat them. I must have done something right as I have 2 SL partners (both of whom I have been partnered with for more than 12 months) and still a strong relationship with my RL partner. I have a group of loyal friends, many who would be or wish they could be even closer.
Is a relationship in SL real or virtual?
Any relationship between two humans is real - regardless of whether that relationship is mediated by technology or not. The following quote from a fellow blogger says it all really:
Excepting explicit role play, an avatar acts and speaks as an extension of the person controlling it. Second Life isn’t a game, it’s a medium through which people interact. Calling avatars “characters” “playing” a “game” may sound cute but its a corner case.
Is there a difference?
No as the virtual is only a mediated version of the real. There are differences of quality, depth, level of possible understanding and communication channels, but only degree not in substance.