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Drama Mamas: Divorce drama

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

I think it's pretty much impossible to avoid drama when it comes to divorce. Even if it's an amicable breakup, there are still the issues that caused the breakup as well as situations that must be dealt with as a result of the split. This week, Divorced asks who gets custody of the guild?

Hello Drama Mamas,

This story of mine actually happened 2 years ago and is over, but at the time it was tumultuous and I thought maybe you could offer some insights or "how-to's" in your column for anyone who might be going through a similar situation.

I've been playing WoW since its release along with my now ex-husband. We leveled characters more or less together and when we reached 60 he sought out and joined a raiding guild. I wasn't sure I was ready for end game raiding but was accepted into his guild under the friends and family plan. I ended up loving it and the guild we joined and we remained there through BC. By that time the guild had gone from being a top server 40-man power house, to a much smaller guild run by the friends who'd been there since the Vanilla days. My ex and I were both officers (class leaders) in the guild and were good friends with all the other officers. We'd even had one couple to our house in RL for a New Years holiday one year.

And then my ex went through an early mid-life crisis where he suddenly decided that he didn't want to be married anymore and wanted to move out and sow his wild oats. He moved out less than a month after this announcement without allowing any attempt at counseling or the like. I was, needless to say, devastated by this sudden behavior change and wanted to seek comfort from my WoW friends along with those in the real world. And therein lay the problem. My ex also wanted the WoW friends for himself.

Our WoW friends were stuck in the middle of 2 people they'd been close friends with. I didn't want to pressure them to take sides, but my ex seemed to have no such issue and, I later learned, frequently spouted off to them about all my short comings that "drove him away." Mostly my friends didn't believe his inflated version of the facts, but, being very non-confrontational people, just sat quietly whenever he'd do these things rather then stand up for me.

Things continued on for a little while like this, with my ex and I awkwardly ignoring each other in game whenever our paths happened to cross. Our friends tried to do their best to spend equal, but separate, time with both of us but in some situations that just wasn't possible. After the separation, I joined a gym and started working out every day after work, which usually put me home and logging on at approximately the same time every night. My ex quickly picked up on my schedule and began trying to engage our friends in a dungeon run approximately 5-10 minutes before I logged in so as to ensure that he'd "claimed them for the night" before I came online.

Again with our friends being non-confrontational, they didn't feel able to say no when he was begging them for a dungeon run, so this tactic left me fending for myself for several nights. Eventually, our friends tired of his game and began just pretending to be AFK when he'd begin this routine. Ultimately my ex got fed up with not getting his way in-game and announced that I'd ruined his favorite pastime and turned all our friends against him so he was quitting, and the problem went away. I continued on with that guild through Wrath.

But my question is, could this have been handled differently? Must friends in-game choose sides in these disputes? What happens with the guild caught in the middle of 2 waring officers? Signed, Divorced

Drama Mama Robin: Divorce sucks. Duh. It sucks worse, though, when it's not amicable and one of the disputed territories is your form of escape. In a guild, if one of the couple is higher ranked, it is customary for the lower ranked person to leave (though friendship with guildies can of course be maintained outside of the guild). But you were both ranked the same and therefore that very easy custom couldn't be used. It seems to me that you did the right thing to avoid drama. But divorce = drama and so some is bound to happen. No matter what, it's painful. But here are some tips for others in your situation to get through it:
  1. Keep all relationship discussions out of the game. Whether you are talking to your ex or your guildies, don't talk about the breakup or anything negative about your ex in game. If you are working out some issues, handling a confrontation or using a guildie's shoulder to cry on, you should talk about these subjects either in person, on the phone or via some other online method. Keep WoW about WoW.
  2. Don't rise to the bait. No matter how many ways your ex tries to pull you into his antics, avoid lowering yourself to that level. Yes, he is trying to provoke a reaction. Don't give it to him. If you can't avoid it and must say something to make it stop, don't break rule number one to do it. Take it out of game and handle it there.
  3. Let your behavior be everyone else's guide. If you are a class act and keep your cool in the face of adversity, you will win the admiration of your friends and guildies. Your ex's tactic of forcing them to choose sides will backfire on him.
  4. You can't always get what you want. It takes both of you to make it work, so if one doesn't want to get back together -- it's just not going to happen. Also, no matter what you do, some of your friends are going to take his side. If he doesn't leave on his own accord, you may have to leave the guild yourself. It sucks, but you're going to have to accept quite a bit of loss.
I'm sure what you went through in Azeroth was paralleled in the real world as well. Yes, you usually have to negotiate custody of leagues/guilds/clubs/hangouts along with pets, property and children. Yes, your mutual friends often have to choose a side. And no, there's nothing you can do to make your ex behave better before, during or after a divorce. Just control what you can: your own behavior. That seems to be what you did and that you are in a good place now. Yay you!

Drama Mama Lisa: In fact, this situation is yet another clear-cut example of how WoW is "real life." Marriage, friendships, divorce, change ... They're all here online, too, real as can be. To pretend anything different is to deny that World of Warcraft is a game that's designed to be played with other people.

The Drama Mamas receive many, many more letters than we can possibly print each week. One common element is that letter-writers almost always know what they should do; in writing their letters, they're actually working through their decisions or seeking affirmation that they recognize the right choice. A disturbing portion of writers, however, are playing a chilling game: They're pretending that because these situations are happening online with people they've not met in person, this somehow excuses them from responding in a socially responsible, socially acceptable manner. They're fishing for excuses for self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing behavior. They try to wriggle out of responsibility for their social actions online, or they try to pull tricks on their online friends they'd never dream of trying to their faces.

I say this not to imply anything at all about Divorced's specific situation but rather to point out that what happens in face-to-face interactions happens here in WoW's social arena, too. The same issues that couples deal with in real life follow them online into their guilds and friends lists. Problems get more complicated when players try to pretend they don't have to give these situations the attention they deserve. If the Drama Mamas column has shown us anything at all, I'd like to hope that it's shown us that people are people, online or off.

Divorced, I agree with Robin: The best way to handle this type of situation is to keep the discussions and arguments outside the game. However, expect that it will affect things in game and expect that some friends may choose to cut ties or merely awkwardly drift away. People generally rise to your expectations; if you treat this issue as something to be handled in a discreet, appropriate manner offline and keep the focus on gaming, others will follow your lead.

Dramabuster of the Week: Don't buy gold! The drama caused by account theft is nasty and affects many. So don't support the scammers. Please.

Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.




Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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