After recent events in both my RL and SL, my mind keeps insisting on pondering the gaps so many of us seem to need filled.  On a purely rational level, I understand that we should NEVER look to others to fill whatever "incompleteness" we may hold within ourselves as it is only through doing the hard work OURSELVES that we can truly feel complete.

No drug can make us whole.
No spending spree can make us whole (with apologies to Truth and all the other fabulous designers in SL).
No one person can make us (as individuals) whole.

We often go into new relationships with starshine and rainbows in our eyes, shouting to the world, "I've found the one who completes me!"  Everything is perfect and delightful in those first few days of newfound love. 

The gaps are still there though. They've just been patched temporarily with endorphins, but we don't realize that.  We now belong to that elite group, "the coupled." 

We share ourselves openly, sometimes perhaps too openly.  We take our newly beloved at face value and accept everything they share as truth. 

When the endorphins slowly subside to normal levels, we still look at that person lovingly perhaps but also with a more realistic eye.  Habits that were adorable in those first flushed, heart-pounding days suddenly aren't so adorable.

We're human. We get grouchy.  We leave the toilet seat up (or you guys do anyway).  Some days we don't find each other's jokes funny.  We accidentally delete parts of our prefabs while taking off our pants. 

We start finding out that everything about our newly beloved is not quite what it seems.

I know there are couples inworld who have withstood the test of time and some who have made the transition to RL relationships successfully,  but in SL, fairy tale endings are rare.

Some want to rush the transition from SL to RL, even when the parties involved have clearly admitted to being married. 

Having never been married, I cannot confess to having the slightest understanding of what kind of gaps must exist in a RL marriage for a person to seek out a SL marriage.   What makes a person give up on finding RL solutions to RL problems in a RL marriage?  What makes a person STAY in a bad marriage and then seek a SL partnership to fill in his or her gaps?

Coming from parents who SHOULD have divorced if they'd had an ounce of sense (people who stay together "for the kids" are just kidding themselves), I can see no reason why anyone should deny themselves the opportunity for RL happiness.   SL happiness, while it can be fulfilling in its own limited way, is no substitute for RL happiness.

It will never permanently fill the gaps we so desperately seek to fill.

Eventually the little annoyances go from "Who deleted the 'no copy' artwork hanging in the living room?" to "Why isn't my partner online tonight?" to "I have to leave SL permanently due to RL reasons" to "I'm going to post all your personal information on my blog just to show the world what type of person you are."

Thank goodness these things haven't happened to me, but I have friends who have gone through all of these scenarios.  I have had girlfriends leave SL because they could no longer deal with emotions from the digital world when they had even more pressing problems in RL.

Instead of filling our gaps, these SL relationships often open up even larger holes than previously existed.  Seemingly normal people become obsessed with thoughts of revenge until it consumes them even in RL.

Much like everyone else, I came to SL thinking it could fill some of my own gaps, but I've learned a few hard lessons in the past 18 months.  I can't look to anyone outside of myself, RL or SL, to make me a whole person. I cannot allow SL feelings to overrule RL common sense.  Even though the person controlling the other avatar IS a real person, I can never truly know with whom or what I'm dealing.  There are malicious types out there who take pleasure in exploiting the needs of others. 

Much like in RL, true love takes time to develop.  All the starshine and rainbows are meaningless if they do not transition eventually to respect and true commitment.  In this fast food world, we now want drive-through love, and if what we find in the bag varies even slightly from our preconceived notions about what the bag should contain, we storm back to the counter and demand an immediate replacement.   It must be perfect immediately, or we cannot keep it.

Rinse & Repeat.

And yet we continue to wonder why we still feel the same emptiness.

Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.

Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)