After taking a spirituality in SL survey, Kean reflects on how she makes SL relationships work.
One thing I found that works very well is the 'no promises' frame. It would be so easy to cheat, run away, make another alt. But all that is not needed if you really set the ones you love free. It takes balance, honesty and huge buckets of empathy to make it work. And it takes refraining from scheduled meetings. 'No promises' has the good point that you won't get disappointed because there’s no promise to be broken, and when you meet up its just icing on the cake.
Another benefit is the presence. When you don't know when you will meet again, all you really have is the present moment. And to be present together is really the greatest gift...
I agree that this model of relationship seems to work well in SL. While I try to be on during a regular set of times and I coordinate with a few other close friends times to meet, I do have RL things that come up and I won't make it online. Moving to a "I'll see you when we are both on." seems to work well.
These virtual relationships remind me most of phone/email relationships. I have a number of people I've moved away from over the years that I keep in touch with via phone or email. While we may try to have regular conversations and times, what often happens is that RL intrudes and we end up calling "whenever we have time" or exchanging emails "whenever something happens."
What I need is a quick way to interject a message to friends in SL, the "I'm running late, but will still meet you at the restaurant" phone call that you do in RL, but that I find hard to do with SL meetings since I can't fire up the client "on the run".