There is a reason all fairy tales end with “…and they lived happily every after.” It sounds so much better than saying “…they got married, knocked up and didn’t do anything interesting again for the rest of their lives.” Let’s face it, once you find and catch “The One” things get pretty boring fast unless something, other than children, intervenes.
When that something arises, as often as not it can destroy a couple. Of course, after a few weeks on months of domestic bliss on Twitter, odds are the pair will split anyway. Does that mean they weren’t “The One” for each other?
After almost a year on Twitter, I have come to realize that there is both an art and a skill to maintaining relationships here. It doesn’t matter whether you are lovers, Maker/Child, packmates, nestmates, co-workers, family or just friends. If you regularly RP with another person, you are their partner. That being said, I’ve identified a few qualities that most successful partners seem to share. In no particular order, they are:
- Secure: They don’t need to monopolize their partner’s every online moment or character.
- Dependable: They do what they say, when they say they are going to do it and don’t abandon things halfway through.
- Realistic: They understand this is RP not RL (real life or ‘real love’).
- Flexible: They understand the best laid plans can go awry and don’t panic when they do.
- Consistent: They know their character and their behavior isn’t all over the place.
- Creative: They can still surprise you.
- Fun: They add to your SLs and your character in positive ways.
- Supportive: They judge their partner on their own merits and opinions, not those of others.
- Loyal: They know and respect the boundaries of your/their SLs and would never cross them with discussing it with their partners first and off-stream.
- Considerate: They take into account your feelings as both a character and an RPer before they do something.
- Respectful: They respect you as a character and a RPer meaning they do not try to god-mod you or force you into situations where you have to behave a certain way.
The most important thing about a RP partner is that they are a PARTNER. It is a relationship of equals. Neither person, or character, is more important or “better” than the other. There are times when one partner may be more involved in an SL than the other, however, this doesn’t mean the more active partner is somehow superior to the less active one. In fact, if you role-play long enough with someone you will find that each of you will be active and more involved at different times based on your availability and the story line.
It is important to remember that online and long-distance relationships are, by their nature, idealized. This is especially true for Twitter RP relationships where those involved are performing as someone else. How close someone’s character is to the RL person is irrelevant. None of use is exactly the person we portray online or we wouldn’t be role-players. None of us is the mental picture those we play with and talk to create of us either. Even if partners become friends off-stream, and many do, it is still an idealized relationship, one in which both parties can be more honest while still maintaining a distance from each other. It is also possible for a person to carry on multiple relationships/partnerships at the same time, something that most of us would not tolerate in a face-to-face relationship. Add to the possible risk of stalking and it’s easy to see why Twitter relationships are best confined to Twitter and/or IM where the individuals involved have some level of anonymity to each other. Being a good partner takes work, whether it’s RP or RL. Intimacy, however develops much faster online. Relationships, whether existing entirely on Twitter or utilizing other forms of online communications like IM or email, are also easier to end and end faster than RL relationships.
In other words: “happily ever after” isn’t a good bet. I’m not even sure it exists.