I spent time recently with not one but two friends in Second Life. These friends, both males, were hurting badly for the same reason-- their partners, who they loved dearly, left Second Life without saying goodbye to them.
Their partners just vanished, and have not logged back on in one case, for 16 months, and in another case, for 7 months. These are full partners, who they were in love with, and thought were loved in return.
When this happens, and you are left hanging in Second Life without knowing why your partner has left, after what is usually a long period of denial, you are devastated. This is the very worst thing anyone can do to you in Second Life.
This is not as uncommon as it sounds. I had the exact same thing happen to me in January 2008 when my first partner, who I married in a grand wedding ceremony six months earlier, simply vanished from Second Life without saying goodbye. I was able to speak to him four months later, however, and he told me in a very rude way that he had "problems", said that "he may have hurt people", but insisted that I never contact him again, which is fine with me. At least I had closure. These guys do not.
In one case, the relationship in question was Second Life only. Both partners never met or communicated in real life. In the other case, they knew who each other were, but the partner who left cut off lines of communication and never told his partner why.
Their former partners never even closed their accounts down. They simply vanished.
What runs through your mind when this happens to you?
You begin with thinking that they will log back on, whether it be weeks or months of time, that "something has happened". You log on every day hoping to see them, leave them notes, until a point comes that can be several months down the road when you realize that they are not coming back.
When you realize that they are not coming back (hopefully it wont take more than three weeks), you will probably think that one of three things has happened to your former partner:
1. That they are dead. Or are serioulsy ill. Or have developed some very serious problem, but still love you. In this case, you worry as all hell. And there is nothing you can do.
2. They were playing a game in Second Life and were using you, and never loved you to being with, and just decided that they are bored with this "game". Or perhaps were caught by a spouse, parent, or real life boyfriend. However, you realize that this is not your fault. You still suffer because you realize that the person you love never really loved you back serioulsy enough to say goodbye to you.
3 That they loved you at one point, but no longer do, and this is all your fault. In other words, they had to escape from you. You blame yourself. This is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to you emotionally.
What do I think of this?
First of all, I have said this before and I will say it again. Unless you physically meet the person you are partnered to, and I am not talking a Skype conversation, you will never know who your Second Life partner actually is. If you do know, and meet in real life, and have contact information beyond an avatar e-mail, you will probably not have this situation happen to you.
There is nothing wrong with a virtual relationship. There are thousands of successful partnerships in Second Life which are virtual -only contacts. You just have to keep in mind that your Second Life relationship must not be played with real life rules.
Second, I know many people in Second Life who, unfortunately, have lost their virtual partner due to serious illness. If your partner is serioulsy ill, they most likely would have told you, or would have had a close friend inform you through an email on their condition. It is highly doubtful, but possible, that your Second Life partner is deceased through a car accident lets say. They might be, but without any real life information, you must assume this is not the case. They probably left Second Life, and worrying will not do you any good.
Third, this is the bottom line. In the vast majority of cases in which a Second Life partner simply vanishes, the reason is that they simply cannot handle being in Second Life anymore, and for one reason or another, and decided not to tell you. They wanted a clean break, and knowing that you cannot contact them in return, makes this all easier. Are they deliberately hurting you? Not really. They probably feel that you can "figure things out" when they stop logging in.
And in their case, their self image is probably not that great ---- they feel that no one really loves them that much anyway. They are probably feeling sorry for themselves, and simply do not have the presence of mind to contact you and tell you that they are leaving-- with a note or another contact -- or even just breaking off your partnership when they leave. They are taking the easy way out. And yes, it hurts.
My favorite saying is this -- never underestimate the power of denial. And you have to stop denying the fact that you have been left high and dry here by someone who probably loved you at one point, but cannot deal with virtual reality right now.
Please -- if you are leaving Second Life, at a minimum, dissolve your partnership and leave your partner a note inworld that simply says "I have to leave now. I am not coming back". Please, do this, you will save someone who loved you a massive amount of heartbreak if you do so.
Thanks for reading, Eddi