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When Second Life got real

A relationship became complicated.


BODY BY THE ROCK: Dahlgren's Second Life avatar is modeled on Dwayne Johnson's body. - COURTESY SKIP DAHLGREN
  • Courtesy Skip Dahlgren
  • BODY BY THE ROCK: Dahlgren's Second Life avatar is modeled on Dwayne Johnson's body.

Soon after I became active on the virtual community known as Second Life, I became friendly with several women, some of whom I engaged in online romance. Given the sophistication of the Second Life programming, one's avatar, or virtual alter ego, can engage in any sort of relationship or intimacy possible in real life, albeit with the avatars doing the physical interactions while the individuals meet mind-to-mind. The intensity of such connections can be powerful and very real.

One woman I began associating with regularly, whom I'll call Andrea, soon occupied more and more of my time. We shared many interests in life and seemed extremely compatible. She was married, and her husband also was on Second Life, but they lived an open marriage in real life and went their own ways online.

I have never been married, but have always preferred to retain at least some level of openness in my relationships. As Andrea and I spent more time together and became more deeply involved, she arranged to come to visit me in Little Rock, and we spent an intense weekend together, the first of several during the time we were involved. However, from the moment when she returned home from the first visit, her openness was gone, replaced by extreme jealousy. She began to insist that I no longer associate with any of my other online women friends, some of whom I had also been having intimate virtual relations with. I told her that I wasn't willing to do this, so she began stalking my avatar, breaking in on me whenever I was with another friend and viciously insulting them. I arranged for us to meet with an online relationship counselor in an attempt to save what was left of our situation, but after a couple of sessions, it was quite certain that she was completely unwilling to accommodate, so I broke off the relationship.

Within a week, she was sexually involved with the counselor online and soon thereafter traveled from the U.S. to Great Britain to be with him in real life. The end of this debacle with Andrea left me battered and bitter and unable for some time to resume any meaningful dating relationship.

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