The physical contact obviously isn’t real. So IMVU sex isn’t real but the person on the other side of the keyboard is real and our emotions are real. I’ve cried real tears and gone through a lot of tissues. And a lot of the feelings you get from imvu sex, the endorphins that are released and so forth are the same as you would get from real sex. These things are what make you feel closer to your partner afterwards and they are as real as the emotions are.
So while it is true that the sex isn’t real any more than porn is, but the emotions are, and even “simulated” sex almost can’t help but give you a warm satisfied feeling and effect your friendship if you have one with your partner. This is especially true when someone is lonely or vulnerable. (Aren’t we all sometimes?) So it is certainly true that it’s not technically real but it does give you some of the same feelings and benefits.
This really is a whole new thing and honestly doesn’t fit into the existing definitions. I think that’s one of the reasons I think it’s so interesting to write about virtual relationships, because its so new there really isn’t a lot written about it but it is growing quickly and only going to continue to as the technology that makes this possible continues to increase and grow faster and faster.