Marriage in SL After 8 Months

by Alphaville Herald on 17/01/08 at 11:26 pm

Metaverse romance and partnerships

by Aurel Miles


Browsing through the comments following any article in the Herald, you get a sense of why people form partnerships in SL. Aside from anything else, it’s good to have an ally.

When I arrived in SL nearly a year ago, I was not thinking about having any personal connections here. Sure, I knew people made friends online, I even know people who have met and married as a result of chat rooms – but that was not for me. I knew my own mind or so I thought.

Well, I’ve worn a wedding ring in SL for around eight months now and I think it may be about time to speak up about the value, drawbacks and tendencies of partnerships in SL.

Until recently, SL marriages tended to be short and intense. Nothing wrong with that, most things in SL tend to be short and intense. Before starting the research on this article I had only met two other couples in SL who kept it together as long as my partner and I. One was married in RL before they ever came here and the other is a celibate partnership.

My SL partner, Yvette and I met and “married” here. Ours is an unusual partnership for a few reasons; for one, we have found, quite by accident that monogamy suits us (which has been a bit of a drawback in terms of the whole sex-columnist thing. more importantly it was apparent from the start that each one of us represents a distinct group and philosophy in SL. It has been pointed out to me on many occasions that we are a bit of a contradiction that way. At first, our partnership reflected two different styles of SL marriage blended into one household. Over time it has become a hybrid, more based in our real world personalities and dispositions than in any kind of image we project in SL.


Yvette is anonymous. She has been “married” in SL at least twice before but never for very long. She interacts with people in SL exclusively within the Flatland context. She is one of those people who keeps her two worlds separate. That does not mean her actions, emotions and relationships here are false but it does mean that there are areas of her identity that are off-limits.

I am transparent. I do not go out of my way to expose my RL but neither do I make any attempt to hide it. Most of my friends in SL know my RL identity and anyone who really wants to know about my real identity would have very little difficulty searching it out.

Before I came along, Yvette’s approach to SL tended to be “old school.” Like most of the original “players” (those who date from the beginning of SL to around 2006) she came to SL to have fun and live out a few outlandish fantasies.

By contrast, I came to SL to explore interests and projects related to my RL career. When we met, I thought Yvette was the most frivolous person in Flatland and she thought I was a curiosity. However, after a few hours of conversation it became clear that we had the potential to share a deep and sincere friendship. We really should have seen it coming.

The evolution of love in SL is predictable if you look at it objectively. No matter how you decide to play your role here, the fact is, when you talk to another avatar, you are talking directly into someone’s unguarded thoughts here. Either they are playing a game and don’t think anything they say has any relevance to anything other than amusement or they think they are protected by the fact that they are anonymous here and so they can and usually do speak freely. Either way they are expressing their unguarded thoughts – people who tell you they are doing anything else are only fooling themselves.

People who are here to play SL as a game, ironically, are often more themselves than they would be anywhere else. It makes sense when you think about it – in family life in RL you must consider the needs and habits of everyone around you. At work you sometimes have to go along to get along but in your leisure time it is all about exactly what you want to do. Here in Flatland you can behave exactly as you would at your most unguarded – if you didn’t like it, you wouldn’t be doing it. Someone who falls in love on that basis is really going to be hooked. Only an idiot would fake their own fun.

In Yvette’s camp, plenty of marriages in SL are for the fun of the event. People who like parties and like shopping can make their own little consumer Nirvana by planning the perfect ceremony and reception. And unlike an entire childhood there is one thing you can make up for here – crappy wedding in RL? You can have the wedding of your dreams in SL. We’ve all met a few of these people in the Round World, where weddings can cost tens of thousands of dollars so it stands to reason there would be a lot of them here.


I spoke to wedding planner, Aliciana Decosta of Majestic Weddings about SL wedding costs and then checked out a few packages on my own. Turns out, an SL wedding can range in price anywhere from under $10. U.S., to a lavish, affair of the century, no-holds-barred maximum of $500. Aliciana’s services will set you back less than lunch for one at a mid-range restaurant. Most SL weddings cost somewhere just under $100. If you always wanted a big wedding, that’s a bargain.

An added benefit is that SL weddings are enviro-friendly in the extreme. Guests do not fly in jet-fueled airplanes or drive in gas-burning cars in order to attend. Teleports are emissions-free. There are no napkins to wash or throw away, no film, flowers or leftover food to waste – not even any dirty dishes.

Weddings happen all the time here, they happen so often and so lightly that many people don’t even RSVP. At party-weddings, gifts really should be optional since chances are good the Bride and Groom will be divorcees before the honeymoon is over. You are not running afoul of SL etiquette to treat a party wedding as role-play since that is often exactly what it is. However, Aliciana tells me these weddings are dying out. I asked her why she thought people had weddings in SL. ” I think ppl form a genuine connection in SL and want to express it in the same way that we would in RL” Does she work with people who have formed relationships in the Round World? I was surprised by her answer, “yes, we’ve marrid several couples that are together in RL. We also marry couples that started in SL and have become couples in RL. There is such a strong connection with most couples by the time they come to plan their wedding, whether they have met in RL or not, its hard to tell sometimes”

SL wedding planners have now been around long enough that they are actually seeing anniversary business. Aliciana said, “It’s nice to see that couples are celebrating 1 yr and multiple yr anniversaries in SL. We’ve also done several vow renewals”

I asked her, “Do you see many of those?” Aliciana answered, “Only recently, but I’d say we’ve done maybe 3 so far and have talked to others that are considering it, the personalized vows are always very touching.”

Once again, if you think it through, that makes sense. A one year marriage is still pretty new but short and intense is not necessarily the same as brief and meaningless. The ability to speak about your most intimate thoughts and ideas with an individual who is willing to listen without judging and who is actually predisposed to be on your side can be a powerfully moving experience. Ideally, in real life this is how your partner should be – not blind, not stupid, just on your team.

Exploring sexual expression, especially when it may not match up to your RL experience can be especially enlightening. For some, an SL marriage opens the door to more exploration in RL relationships. They don’t have to be long-standing arrangements; the job is done when it’s done. Couples in SL can explore a lot of ideas about love and marriage without risking the house, the car or the kids. If your SL marriage is more sustaining than your RL relationship then really, that should make you stop and think.

In terms of intimacy SL is the perfect place to test the waters. Many men have desires they see as being shameful or deviant (usually the desire to be dominated by a woman or engage in other gender transgressive play – as I’ve mentioned before.) Many women are just as interested in trying a variety of activities they would never consider in RL. Sometimes, talking about it is enough to illuminate the source of the fantasy and that, in itself can be very liberating. It’s good to know you’re not a freak and if you are a freak – it’s good to know there are lots of other freaks out there. People, in general, do not want to think of themselves as the only person on earth who feels the way they do.


My partner Yvette and my relationship with her, has taught me a lot about relationships in general. We never had a wedding. She asked once and I said no, a few months later, she asked again and I said yes. She did the paperwork, I got the ring. It was all very simple but it meant something to me and it still does.

It was partly to answer the question of meaning that sparked the idea for this article. At first I thought it was just cementing a bond and keeping her ex-lovers partners and pets at bay but it has been a long time since I’ve needed any proof that Yvette and I are an exclusive team and we’re still partnered. Then I thought it might keep people at arm’s length when I am writing a column about some particularly freaky sex practice and maybe that’s part of it but really, if a RW marriage doesn’t keep the predators away an SL marriage won’t either.

I know we will never be one of those couples lined up to say yes to the idea that a virtual marriage the same value as a real life marriage but we do see that it has a value of its own. It has made a difference. I think, in part, an SL partnership tells people that you’re invested in this world. It signals to strangers that you are not the kind of person who is going to treat them like a cartoon with no person involved but it is also something more than that. It’s a real connection to a real person that you know in a real way – maybe not in the way we all think of as the ultimate real way but real just the same.

Over the past two weeks I have met a few couples who met and married both here and in real life. They tell me their marriages are very strong in the Round World because they knew each other without the distraction of the physical aspects first. They learned their way around each other’s hearts before their bodies ever became involved. I am not drawing any conclusions here. I merely put it out there – as candidly as I am able – an SL marriage can be as variable as a RW marriage. To know what yours is, you need to know yourself and your partner.


What about the issue of gender in SL marriages? More often than not, an SL wedding involves two brides either of which might be female in real life – but then again, they might not. If you think that’s fine here but not in the real world – why?

This weekend a couple from my SL spiritual community will be holding a simultaneous two-world wedding. They will speak their vows in SL and RL at the same time and their commitment ceremony will be blessed by a RL member of the Clergy. One is a Seminary student and a Minister of the emergent church group in the United Church of Christ, the other is a cop. Like many religious couples, they met at church. They did not meet in SL but the community here has become an important support network for them. Sophianne and Vidalia could legally marry in Canada or in a few U.S. states but their home state denies them that right/responsibility or privilege (how you think of it is up to you). All of this means their wedding in SL will be as real to them as their wedding in the round world. It may even take on more “real” traits in Flatland since they will be no more or less recognized than any other married SL couple.

Rick Wake performs weddings in SL. He says he has performed over 450 ceremonies over the last 18 months. He sees a fair number of couples who meet and marry here and then live together or marry in RL. He also says he sees a lot of repeat business and not always from both members of the same couple. Weddings in SL are apparently big fun – there are plenty of people out there who still play it that way. That may change if a court ever decides SL weddings carry legal weight but for now, in SL apart from the risk to your heart, weddings are a risk-free proposition.


The wedding industry is big here and getting bigger. Maybe that means it’s time to start thinking about exactly what that means to you. Love, life, marriage – why do we feel compelled to echo these real life traditions in this brand new world?

Weddings in any world are all about symbols of love. Until fairly recently, wedding cake was all but inedible. It was handed out to symbolize luck, abundance and fertility. Wearing white is supposed to by a symbol of purity, the candles, the flowers, the altar – they’re all heavily steeped in symbolism. Why not move all of that into the realm of the purely symbolic? Getting married in SL makes at least as much sense as throwing rice at people as they run out of a church.

So I’m asking, what does SL partnership mean to you? Do you marry for fun? For business? For sex or for love? Do you think SL partnerships are just another stupid little money-maker for the Lindens, at $25 per transaction? What’s important about all of this? Is it the dress? The cake? The DJ?

I’ve had my say, now it’s your turn. Be as honest and brutal as you like, I have Yvette to go home to. I can take it.

20 Responses to “Marriage in SL After 8 Months”

  1. das_fuhrer

    Jan 18th, 2008

    m-m-m-massive fail.

    enjoy ur hand.

  2. Lol

    Jan 18th, 2008

    Now we need divorce lawyers and divorce courts setup.

    I was offered to go to an SL wedding, I’m glad I didn’t, one of the two females found out the other was a guy in real life and broke ties the same day they got married in SL.

    No divorce was necessary, which of course is fraud like the banks and casinos. So, Linden will be asked by the majority of the community to make it mandatory to get a REAL marriage license. We are also asking that two married people have to go through the law if they want a divorce. If banks need a real license, then so do these fools.

    –lol And of course.. J/K.

  3. Archie Lukas

    Jan 18th, 2008

    Have no fear

    Its a good article.

    I have many friends who are either partnered (?) or married
    One female friend gets married as if she is baking a cake, out with the old, in with the new. BTW ‘partnered’ is just newspeak for semi-committed, marriage takes real commitment and courage.

    I have found that a lot of people start off with multiple partners and whittle them down to one special one, then marry. These couples stay married too -so get the screwing around out of your system first!

    of course the same happened to me, the girl I married, Bianca, has turned out to be loyal, affectionate and has a sexy, sexy husky voice. The fact that we are in GMT & US time zones is a real problem – but we manage.

    To keep SL normal – we do have have occasional cuddle friends and sometimes even share one – but we have agreed that we are a couple first. Bi likes to pull neko tails occasionally, i don’t have a lot of time for them and am allergic to bloody cats anyhow -so this works out fine, after I am pulling Zzzzzzz’s -she is pulling nits from neko hair and good luck to her.

    We talk on Skype and SL (now that the thing is occasionally more reliable) to discuss RL problems, bitches and bullies, plus funny RL anedotes and SL silly bugger antics (there are lots) thus making each other feel better about lifes trials and tribulations.

    So they Trolls ask – why don’t you both do that in RL?
    a) we do!
    b) drop by so we can kick your arse, nasty little peeps.

  4. Maggie

    Jan 18th, 2008

    I am getting married soon, in SL. I was the same as Yvette, I came here to play and party and have a blast. Then I fell in love. Now we’ve been monogamous for 8 months. When he asked me to partner him in September, I broke something I said I’d never do (and said yes). When he asked me to actually have a full on wedding in December, I almost said no. But, the symbolism of a SL wedding is important to him, and it’s getting more important to me. I’ve been wearing a ring since that day, and yeah, I like it a lot.

    I have no idea where I’m going with this, but I like the article.

  5. Chav Paderborn

    Jan 18th, 2008

    I got SLarried for the LOLs.

  6. SqueezeOne Pow

    Jan 18th, 2008

    SL marriage is creepy and one of the biggest indicators of the social ineptitude of the majority of SL people that seek out and get into “relationships” in SL.

    Back when SL worked better and was still a new and fresh thing the majority of people online were more “normal” and treated it like the recreation it is. They would get “married” because it was fun and then move on to the next thing when it got old.

    Now all these people are emotionally dependent on liars and lies. The liars are the ones that are mis-representing themselves either genderwise or relationship-wise…either by actually being a guy instead of a girl or actually being married IRL.

    The lies are formed because the physical aspect has been removed. You can’t tell if the person is lying (unless they suck at it), you can’t see their mannerisms or get in synch with their body language because there’s only an AO and a form that usually doesn’t look anything like the RL person. These things are huge and anyone that discounts them shows that they haven’t had any healthy relationship IRL.

    Also, the ones that tend to be into the whole “marriage” racket are the 7 foot tall Carmen Electras or Vin Diesels with emo haircuts and bling. They’re not only being dishonest to their “partners” but also to themselves by buying into this lie so readily.

    The problem is that most of these people DON’T treat it like roleplay. They also tend to blur the lines between RL and SL…probably because they are trying to escape from RL instead of face it.

    These are RL people and should be respected as such. However, that doesn’t mean that someone that doesn’t or can’t make the effort to exist in RL for you should receive more of your attention and affection than the people that are ACTUALLY around you.

    That means the people already in your RL life that you’re neglecting by doing all this, but it’s even moreso for the people that you could potentially be meeting IRL in a coffee shop or the grocery store or at the museum or even at a bar!

    You’d be able to get over your RL social problems if you stopped running from it and actually faced your fears and weaknesses.

  7. Penny Sautereau

    Jan 18th, 2008

    Good article.

    I’ll spare my two cents about my own SL relationships. Since, y’know, I’m too open about myself and all, I’m sure you don’t really want to know.

  8. Pie Psaltery

    Jan 19th, 2008

    Why is it do you think that people who so vehemently express their complete contempt and lack of understanding of other people’s desire to find new ways of connecting emotionally spend so much time spouting off to those people experimenting with new social outlets that they are the ones who are socially stunted and emotionally inept?

  9. Seraphine

    Jan 19th, 2008

    SL relationships are awesome. There’s no bad breath nor fights
    over who does which chores. You can log off when you get tired.
    But the feelings are real and the friendships/relationships
    (while on a different level than real life) are completely valid
    and fulfilling. Yes, and sometimes they are very intense.

  10. Penny Sautereau

    Jan 19th, 2008

    You know what I wonder? Why those who think it’s just a game and have no emotional connection or investment in it, who blather on ceaselessly about how pathetic those of us who do are, devote so much time to saying so, to harassing the people they look down on, etc. If we’re such losers why waste time on us? Why bother with us? Is our emotional connection to a virtual world and the very real people we meet there somehow hurting you? Does it so affect your personal life that a stranger a thousand miles away feels something you don’t and therefore believe them weak and stupid to?

    Helpful hint; Everyone is different. Just because YOU don’t like or believe in something doesn’t make it bad, wrong, or stupid. It just makes it something that isn’t right for YOU. To devote time and energy to lambasting those it IS right for doesn’t make them suffer, it just reveals you to be a jerk, closed-minded, and expecting of others to believe as you do. Your dislike like of us reflects badly on you because you blather on about it ceaselessly, whereas the only time I see a Feeler blather about the closed-hearted “just a game” crowd, is in reply to you folk belittling us.

    I could list any number of valid reasons for people living good chunks of their lives online, and I’m sure there are as many reasons not to, but everyone needs to do what’s best for themselves and let everyone else alone. Live your own lives, the other guy’s life can only bother you if you’re weak enough to let it.

  11. Cai Pirinha

    Jan 19th, 2008

    @ Penny: Your last comment sounds pointless; people were asked by the author to give their opinion. But looking at your articles it seems that you can’t deal with other people’s opinions anyways (unless they agree with you, of course).

    I do realize that SL can give people with severe difficulties (think of disfigurements or disabilities) the potential to engage socially with other people on a more even level than possible in real life.

    However, I largely agree with the above comment from SqueezeOne Pow: Most of the people that see their SL marriages as serious relationships are nothing more than RL losers that are lacking the social ability or maturity to deal with the real life and hence try to escape into a virtual environment to compensate for this. And that is simply pathetic.

  12. Siobhan OFlynn

    Jan 20th, 2008

    My RL husband and I didn’t meet in SL, but we did meet on the internet. I’ve been in Second Life since August 2003 and I introduced him to SL in Jan. 2006. We got married (in real life) in March of 2005 and SL married at the Linden’s Mass Valentine’s Wedding in Feb. 2006. We’re still married in both RL and SL. Since our RL wedding didn’t involve a gown, flowers or anything fancy, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do it up right in SL. It was every bit as special and romantic as I’d hoped and made Valentine’s Day 2006 truly memorable.

  13. Lacie Babenco

    Jan 21st, 2008

    Partnership or marriage in SL is somewhat of a reflection of who we are no matter if it’s virtual or real. Some see it as light and trivial (easy come/easy go comes to mind) while others take it as seriously as a RL commitment. No soapbox here – I had a failed SL partnership for many reasons that were entirely of my own doing.

    My only advice to those in SL is make sure it’s what you and your potential partner really desire, rather than part of some illusion or fantasy that you’re not capable of seeing through. If it’s honest and feels right, I say go for it but don’t try to fool yourself if it’s for ulterior motives.

    Like the world needs more divorces – real or in SL.

  14. anon

    Jan 22nd, 2008

    “If we’re such losers why waste time on us? Why bother with us? ”

    Because it’s fun, stupid! The more invested you are in your e-world the harder you fall when someone breaks your immersion.

  15. Penance "Penny" Sautereau

    Jan 22nd, 2008

    @Cai Pirinha

    Um….. no. Gorereadthingsand payCAREFUL attention. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me when it’s doneintelligently and with legitimate intent to fosterdebate. Only disagreements I take issue with are from trolling nitwits making a big stink for the sole purpose of trying to stir shit up. So uh, nice try there, but EHN, you don’t get a copy of the home game.

  16. Penance

    Jan 22nd, 2008

    Goddamn broken space bar.

  17. Auggie Eagleburger

    Jan 22nd, 2008

    3 word: Just Say No

  18. peluda

    Mar 2nd, 2008

    i can only say one thing to the ones with a rl relation : rub some more firstworldbelly !
    sl relations NEVER last , the game is only 4-6 years old so nobody who is thinking clearly can say sl relationships are comparable to real life. don’t make me laugh please.

  19. Thecla Hax

    May 2nd, 2008

    I’ve thought a lot about online relationships and finally wrote some stuff down recently. My essay, “Love, Virtually,” is now posted at

    The people behind the avatars are real, and have real feelings. It’s easy to get swept away in the intensity of feeling when you are new to online interaction. But the relationships are real. They’re just different in some ways than relationships we have when we can see the other person’s real face.

  20. i wonder

    Oct 20th, 2008

    I am just seeking advice and I know I will get both ends of it. I am heavily involved with someone on SL; sexually. There are non sexual times but it has been mostly sexual. We are planning to meet in RL soon. Yes for sex. I know he is not looking into a relationship but I am hoping for it.

    I should wake up soon right?

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