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Drama Mamas: I think I'm in love with my RP partner


Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Throughout history, there have been more songs written about love than any topic. Sad songs, happy songs, angry songs -- all of the facets of love have been and will continue to be explored in popular music. And as long as there has been roleplaying, people have been falling in real love with each other through playing fake characters. Keep reading for fake love turning into real love and me going off on a tangent about love songs.
Dear Drama Mamas,

I've been a roleplayer for several years, and for the first time I developed a crush on my character's in-game partner. Our characters have been a couple for six months. While their relationship evolved from flirting and banter into deep, passionate love and then sharing a home, our out-of-character relationship tightened too. We would flirt, exchange secrets we told no other soul, pull all-nighters chatting. He really is a charming, understanding, considerate and giving person.

The problem is that my feelings for him are probably one-sided. When in character, he declares his endless love to my character in a convincing manner -- in Darnassian. But often he logs on one of his alts and says similar things to another girl, only in Orcish, Draenei or Zandalari. I understand that RP love isn't real; I'm not a psycho. It still feels like hell.

I know it's just a game and I might be taking it too far, and as roleplayers we're expected to build high walls between ourselves and our characters. But I've seen it happen all the time in the RP community: People fall for their in-game partners, cross oceans and circle the planet to be with the person behind their beloved elf or troll. Who says such love is inferior compared to meeting someone at a bar or a party? Why should I feel guilty about breaking the separation rules and translating my character's emotions into my own? Why am I forbidden to feel this twinge when I see his alt kissing some other char and whispering loving words into her lengthy elf ear? I can't even tell him how I feel about it, because it'll show that I took my walls down.

So right now I have two choices: go Barbara Streisand on this ("I am a woman in love and I'll do anything ...") and hope that one day our relationship will shape into what I want it to be -- maybe even confess my feelings to him. The other would be to cut off this unhealthy RP relationship entirely, move my char to another server so I won't have to observe his other romantic explorations and cry, while pretending I'm cool about it. I'm prone to choose the second option, assuming he doesn't see me in the same light. (Why else would he be shagging half the server otherwise?) What do you think I should do?

-- Someone Hurting

Drama Mama Robin: Someone, don't ever, ever, ever take advice from love songs. Ever. Music is great for exploring emotions and getting into a mood, but songs are just terrible at giving relationship advice. Here are some examples:
  • Love, love will keep us together No, no it won't. Communication, understanding, not shagging half the server -- these are what will keep you together.
  • All you need is love I love The Beatles, but really, love doesn't pay the bills, make you dinner or take care of little Johnny while you're raiding ICC.
  • Love will find a way The swan song of the truly desperate. (For those familiar with that particular episode of Cheers, the swan song of the truly desperate was "opposites attract," but I think both statements are related in this context.)
Ms. Streisand was telling a story with her song, not suggesting you put yourself through the same anguish. I'm not saying love isn't real. Oh no. It's very real and a great motivator for exploring relationships. It just shouldn't be used to rationalize putting up with pain and sorrow in the hopes of your dreams being realized. (Yes, we do it all the time. I do it. It's human. But it's not the right, clever, healthy thing to do.)

So let's look at this logically. You have real-world feelings for this guy. Let's tackle it in a real-world way.

  1. I am assuming that you are not in a committed relationship. If you are, we're done here. Take a break from the game to work on your real-world relationship, or break up -- whichever makes the most sense for you. This letter from a previous column will help you better.
  2. Do you know if he's in a committed relationship? If he is, this won't end well, and his philandering won't stop if he switches his commitment to you. Here's more on that topic. Have a good cry, RP a break-up with his character and then move to a different server.
  3. If neither of you are in a relationship, ask him out on a real-world date. You don't seem to be physically near each other and that's probably best. Ask him to set aside some time to talk to each other on the phone so that you can chat about out-of-character things. If he says no, then you know exactly where you stand without having to reveal your feelings. Follow my advice for number 2.
  4. If he says yes to a phone date, keep it completely OOC. You are trying to explore a relationship outside of the game, not continue your roleplaying. Then just proceed as normal: Get to know each other for a while, determine within yourself how far you want to take it, find out if he feels the same way ... just take your time.
Online romance is still romance. What it really boils down to is determining how eligible your situation is and then acting on that information. But whatever you do, don't let it linger.

Drama Mama Lisa: Someone Hurting, I'm so sorry you're hurting -- but I'm glad to see that you're still thinking, too. You know the score; you state the facts cleanly and clearly in your letter. You know your relationship with your RP partner is a game. You know he's "shagging half the server." You know how and why to keep roleplaying objective.

And you know what to do.

OK, OK, so it still hurts. I know it does. Take a deep breath, and let's review things one more time:
Lotta good resources here, girlfriend. Read them, let them sink in and help build up some resolve. I think you already have a pretty clear picture of just how interested he actually is, whether you're ready to admit that to yourself or not. I also think you have stronger feelings about the way he comports himself with other players than you allow yourself to dwell on. That's part of who he is, and that's not going to change.

As you yourself said, Someone Hurting, it's time for either The Talk or a clean break. You can't really lose (beyond some possible embarrassment) with the first option, whereas if you up and leave, you could possibly be missing out on a shot at developing something real with this guy. Still, I'd encourage you to look behind the what-ifs to listen to what your heart feels about what your eyes, ears and mind have observed. Which choice should it be? From the tone of your letter, I think you'll find you already know this, too.

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. 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@wow.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, RP, Drama Mamas

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