...medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. -Dead Poets Society
Love is a tricky word in any fold of reality. In Second Life, "love" is a Wonderland cousin of the 1st Life meaning. We can be very, very artful with our masks, only allowing selective glimpses of our true merits and flaws. We can also be prevented from demonstrating our most loving and lovable qualities, by our (in)abilities to write and perceive promptly and accurately, to affix prims elegantly, to manage a sometimes-overwhelming flow of information and opportunities, to be online at the right times, and so on.
Even when we think we love, we may only love an illusion or a fragment.
Yet in SL we can also sometimes connect in new ways. We can bypass some static, doubts, hesitations, or prejudices. Sometimes the masks separate us, but sometimes they free us to be our true selves, and to connect in a deeply intimate way.
Some people eagerly seek love in SL. Some people don't believe in SL love. Some people have it but deny it, or deal with it ineptly. Some people had love but it died or was killed, and now they feel only pessimism or even cynicism.
I've had at least one relationship where I could have had love, but fled from it. And at least one where I wanted love, but my partner didn't. I'm not looking for it now, but I'm not as afraid of it. There are many kinds of love, and most of my love will only ever be for my beloved primary. The best magic of SL is the unexpected kind, so I leave open some possibilities.
Is SL love as real as 1st Life love? Probably not. But it's the "probably" that gets to us, because SL pain can certainly be as real. It can be worse than 1L. In 1L, we might know where our would-be love is, and we can employ any and all creative strategies to try to win or deepen their affections. We can stand outside with a boombox over our head (like in the movie Say Anything), or leave anonymous presents by her apartment door (like I did when courting my beloved primary). But in SL, we can love, and be hurt, and be wanting, and sometimes we can do nothing but wait. We watch each login message fiercely, hoping for the magic string of letters that causes our heart to race. It is a terrible wonderful thing: love.
...and just in case you're wondering, this post isn't relevant to anything or anyone in particular. Rather, it's inspired by a variety of experiences by my friends and me over time.