How do you handle moving on from one intense relationship to another?
Dear Drama Mamas,
My first love, of nearly six months two nights ago told me, for the second time, that she had just wanted to be friends. And that a long-distance would never work out for her. A few days before the relationship ended for the first time, I could tell it was over. I just didn't want to admit it to myself.
She was the first person that showed me just how special ERP could be. The first girl to ever trust me enough to be "naughty". There were many partners of hers before me, though she had constantly assured me that what she had with tens of others had meant next to nothing to her. She broke off all relations with these guys and girls to show me she was committed to me and only me. She was very clingy, and it didn't bother me one bit. I enjoyed having her around most of the hours of every day we played together.
She had given me a handful of reasons to end it. What short-lived months we had together had essentially decayed and withered. From all of the "I don't deserve you"s and "I love you"s into "sorry for wasting you time", "I'm worthless" and, worst of all: "you're better off without me." [...] She convinced herself that she didn't really know me as a person, that she only knew my character. This alienated me. I tried my absolute best to convince her otherwise, but she wouldn't listen. I was hopeless. Lost. Then, one last kick in the teeth. She told me that anything she said she had felt, she made seem much more intense than it really was. That every time she told me she loved me, she didn't mean it. That was it. The killing blow. When she left, she didn't sell, delete, or give back the rose I had given her when I proposed to her character. The one that I had kissed "ever-so-softly" and sealed into a box with a promise. That as long as she kept the rose with her, and only her, I would be hers and hers alone.
After all of that, she logged out. Leaving me alone. She was gone for days, no sign or message telling me she was okay. I was worried sick. She had talked once about suicide, and how she thought of it. I frantically scanned the news, looking for, but hoping I couldn't find, her name in the title of an article telling of how she had taken her own life. I had actually convinced myself that she had taken her life! To her I was the only person that cared for and respected her. She even had a hard time believing her mother every time she told her she loved her, let alone tell her so. I was "the only thing good in my life".
After what felt like forever, she had logged in again, for the first time since the night I begged her to believe me when I told her the truth. That every time she had told me "I don't deserve you", she was wrong. We eventually fell into an ERP, which sparked a new relationship between us.
This new relationship was sweet for about a week or two, but ended just the other night. And now, as I'm getting over it for the second time, much easier compared to the first, another girl has started to catch my interest. I want to spend time with her, but I can't leave my ex alone like that. She's so lonely, I can't, as a human being, abandon her to be sad and alone. But, I don't want her to tag along while I flirt with and get closer to this new girl. It would break her heart. I couldn't bring myself to do that to anyone. So, I am asking you for advice. What should I do?
Drama Mama Robin: Didn't your ex just end the relationship again? It seems to me that you should harbor no guilt whatsoever in taking your attentions elsewhere. To answer your question, I think you should respect your ex's decision and move on. What does concern me is possible misunderstandings with your new romance.
You seem to have fallen into a habit of expressing your personal feelings through your character rather than respecting the boundaries of being in character vs. out of character.. And that's fine, if that's your thing. But it looks like that may have been an issue with your former love, since she says she only knew your character. This new woman and others like her may want to keep her character and her life outside of the game separate. It's not really ERP (Erotic RolePlay) if it's the real you having virtual sex with someone else. It's just EP. And that's also ok, if that's your thing, but it can lead to sticky situations like this one. Here are some suggestions for approaching a relationship with this new woman.
- Be up front. Let this new woman (or any future in-game love interest) know that you are attracted to her OOC (Out Of Character, for those who don't RP). You don't want to have any crossed wires here where you think you're pursuing the person behind the character and she thinks you're just RPing.
- Respect. If she is only interested in roleplaying and not getting to know you personally, you need to respect her boundaries.
- If you can't do the time ... If you can't separate yourself from your character while getting to know this woman and that's all she wants, then don't RP with her. Just accept her feelings and move on.
Good luck and let us know what happens.
Drama Mama Lisa: It's thoughtful of you to be concerned, but I think you'll find your ex is more resourceful than you might imagine. As someone who's broken things off with you twice now, she seems quite capable of gauging her own needs. If she feels wistful at the sight of you engaging with another woman, I have faith that she'll be able to remove herself safely from the scene.
If you truly want to be considerate to your ex's feelings, though, you're going to have to constrain your expressions of love in her presence. There's nothing you can say to her beforehand that won't foment drama. You're simply going to have to rise to the occasion and respond appropriately should she appear on the scene -- not as pleasant a proposition as the possibility of heading things off at the pass, since keeping things on the down-low could conceivably put a crimp in your style. It's the price of being considerate.
What I'm more concerned about is how you view what's going on here, because nothing you've described in your letter sounds like actual ERP to me. Robin's right -- this is simply cyberlovin'. Sweet declarations and exciting moments do not a relationship make. I'm not seeing any signs here of a relationship that extends beyond the infatuation you feel for one another, either in the context of your characters or in the context of the players behind them.
If this is what you're after and the other parties are consenting adults, there's no harm in this -- but you should understand and acknowledge what these relationships are all about, and you should be up front about your intentions from the start. A relationship with someone you've met online is nothing if not real life. Unlike WoW itself, it's not a game. Even a roleplayed relationship is not something to ever take lightly -- your partner is counting on you to hold up your end of the story.
Let's review some of the basics of engaging in roleplayed relationships online:
- All the World's a Stage: Getting too attached to a character
- All the World's a Stage: Maintaining your barriers
- All the World's a Stage: Cheating and the IC vs. OOC divide
- All the World's a Stage: Intimate relationships between characters
Will you send us an update once some time has gone by? I'd love to know how things work out for all three of you. Take care.
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.