“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved” – George MacDonald
It’s been said many times before that time in SL travels at a faster pace than in the atomic world, and in many ways this is true. This is usually in reference to in-world relationships that seem to evolve at warp speed where one day you meet and strike up a friendship with an avatar, a couple of weeks later you’re planning the biggest SL wedding there ever was, and then the following month the entire thing has fallen apart. I have witnessed this many times and I always feel wary when I see one month old avatars in the throes of a new relationship, boldly declaring their love and devotion for each other in their profiles, floating text above their heads, and in local chat.
While I can’t say that I have ever been partnered or had a SL wedding, I have had some pretty tough lessons in placing my trust too soon in the wrong people. It hurts, I know it and there have been a couple of times when it almost made me walk away from SL completely. It has also been really hard to watch close friends of mine be deceived and have their hearts broken by people who they thought cared for them. No one deserves that.
If there is anything I have learned about online friendships/relationships from my experience in SL, it’s that it takes time. It takes a lot of time, not SL time, not internet time, and not warp speed time. It takes old-fashioned, real world time and maybe it takes even more time than that to really trust a stranger you have met on the internet. It takes as much time as you need, because let’s face it, you don’t have face to face contact, body language or social cues to go by. In SL, all you have are avatars presented to you, personalities and your gut instinct to guide you.
Four plus years into this and I have made a few close friends, have lost just as many and I’m making some new ones. I’ve learned that you can’t rush meaningful SL relationships, no matter how much you want that perfect partner or BFF to fill that partner box in your profile. Time is on your side, but only if you allow it. After having my own heart broken into a million pieces too before, believe me, a lasting friendship built on mutual trust is something worth waiting for.