A girl who’s boyfriend is on imvu posted a comment and was upset, and concerned that this was the equivalent to cheating and wrong. I struggled with this more than my share and wanted to highlight her concerns discuss it. So I asked her to write it out and I’d post it and talk about it. There’s no one answer, but I hope that this can be a healthy and helpful discussion. So here’s Natalie.
Everything I read from psychologists, marital councelors, and advice columns…. Really any input that does not come from an imvu user, classifies this as emotional cheating. Most say it is often more damaging than physical cheating. At the very least, it is suggested that this be discussed before a relationship starts, boundaries are set, and no one sneaks or hides anything. But everything I read from the imvu world is the exact opposite.
And in every case, if you are giving time and affection to person B, it can only come from the time and affection that could be used to improve and build with person A. No one, that has not signed up for a polyamorous relationship, wants to share the one they love. And no one, in any relationship deserves to be lied to, or told half truths.
He actually told me he hid this for so long bc he loved me so much and didn’t want to lose what we had. But what about me? He knew I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship like that. He knew I wouldn’t have fallen in love with a liar. He knew I would not be happy in a relationship where I had to share him. But he took the power of choice from me by pretending everything was as I wanted it to be. He manipulated me into loving him by being someone different to me than he really was.
So now, 6 years in. I still love him and can’t imagine myself without him. But I also don’t want to live this way. I’m torn between staying and being unhappy or leaving and being unhappy. So that’s why I ask how your hubby wakes up every morning, broken heRted and prepared to be hurt again by the one he loves most.
And not to be all attacky, but can you honestly say this is anything other than pure selfishness?
First we have to start with the understanding that an online only relationship is NOT cheating. If you define cheating as watching porn or a sexy movie or fantasizing about somebody you meet, then almost everything is cheating. So for the purpose of this point, let’s define cheating as sexual physical contact. (If you think just thinking something sexy is the same as doing it, then everyone’s cheating and this whole discussion is pointless and you might be perfect but you may also be very lonely.)
I searched on the internet and found an article in Psychology Today that listed the following eight most common reasons given why people cheat. It was based on a survey conducted on an online dating site. I think I fall into numbers 4, 2, 8 and 1 (in that order of priority).
1. Lack of sexual satisfaction in your primary relationship. (This was the most common reason cited by individuals in their study.)
2. Desire for additional sexual encounters.
3. Lack of emotional satisfaction in your primary relationship.
4. Wanting emotional validation from someone else.
5. Falling out of love with your partner.
6. Falling in love with someone new.
7. Wanting to seek revenge.
8. You’re curious and want new experiences.
I would say that IMVU or a virtual relationship like this can help address at least six out of these eight issues. I don’t think these things necessarily make you cheat because we all have some of these things at times. I recognize and felt several of them, but have never had any real desire or inclination to cheat. But I do think that if there’s a safe way to address these issues without risking or hurting anything it certainly could say that it may reduce real life cheating.
So even if you can’t say IMVU actually reduces cheating it certainly is a good way to address some of the issues that can lead to cheating. The down side is that if you cross over into real life, it suddenly turns into cheating and can lead to serious real life issues and hurt your relationship.
I listen to the discussions on the radio here in NY about Anthony’s Weiner new scandal and they’re debating if a virtual encounter is the same thing as a real life one. I know they don’t actually care, they just want to get people talking and stir things up. But Weiner’s affair clearly wasn’t just virtual. It crossed over into real life. It isn’t actually the virtual part that they talk about either it’s the real life part. It’s texting and pictures and phone calls.
Sending pictures texting and phone calls are things that you do in a real-life relationship. They aren’t things that you do in a virtual relationship. They also require sharing your true identity. A virtual relationship is different because you don’t share your identity. That gives you more freedom And allows you to stay focused on things inside that you don’t see on the surface.
If you have a virtual relationship and you start to share things outside of that virtual relationship, such as pictures and phone calls, then it is no longer just a virtual relationship and has crossed the line and is becoming a “real” relationship. To me, that’s when it crosses the line from a virtual relationship which isn’t hurting your real life into a real relationship and becomes cheating.
If Anthony Weiner’s relationship was really just a virtual relationship and he hadn’t sent pictures or texted or phone calls then he wouldn’t be in this situation he’s in right now. So to me, it becomes a serious problem when you cross over. The moral of the story is, be very careful about crossing over into real life because you don’t want to end up turning into a Wiener
He knows that I have a lot of online friends that I’m close to. He knows that I enjoy myself (a lot) when he’s not around (he finds that sorta hot). What he doesn’t know is that I do them both together. He is the love of my life. I have no doubt. And would never do these thigns in RL. And I am open and honest about everything. Just this. I actually found this site, asking myself this question. Trying to come to terms with it. I mostly have now.
Here is my rationalization:
1) Reading trashy romance novels are ok. Writing trashy romance novels is ok. Here I’m just doing them both, with someone else, at the same time… (stop looking at me like that!)
2) This world is virtual. In virtual worlds it is ok to kill people. What’s a little virtual sex.
3) Ok, so the physical act is virtual, but the emotions are real. Very real. But a minister at a wedding reminded me that there are lots of different kinds of love. Love for parents, for siblings, for friends. I believe in love. I really do. And isn’t love the only thing that there’s just, too little of? I think?
4) IMVU makes me feel more like… me. All the things I wished I had done, misssed out on… The holes in my life, the nagging regrets all totally gone. Leaving me happier, more loving in rl.
Is IMVU alright for married people, is a tricky and often difficult question. It’s not correct to say that every married person on imvu is cheating, but it’s also not correct to say that it’s never cheating. There are two factors you have to use to determine the appropriateness of a situation. The first is the precautions taken to limit things. Never crossing the line between IMVU and RL won’t seem like much of a big deal to single people but is critical for anyone married. You can take it a step further and not maintain any ongoing relationships with your spouse’s sex. It’s also important not to do things that reduce your desire for your spouse. If it’s adversely affecting the relationship, it’s definitely crossing the line.
The second part of the equation is how your spouse not only is affected, but will they look at it. How will your rl partner feel if they walk in at the wrong moment? Will they understand the difference and separation between real and virtual or what have they agreed to. The more communication you have there, the safe it is. Although that’s not always easy to do, and can cause issues and concerns too. You can get a divorce in most places now for any reason whatsoever. So the only answer or opinion that really counts is your spouses