Points to remember when having a virtual affair:
Never, ever plan to meet. Hard not to type, in the heat of the moment, damn I wish you were really here! Never ever say it otherwise and if you think it, get out. You’re getting too caught up.
Keep it unreal. Use a false name, never give your address or media links and keep the exchange of photographs to a minimum. It is oddly unnerving to have a photo of someone staring blandly at you from the screen at the same time as you are telling each other the detailed and not-at-all-bland things you are up to. Imagination is better.
However, be virtually realistic: it must be a bit schizophrenic to have someone rhapsodizing over your enormous perky perfect breasts when even you can barely see the things, no? Or your long legs, when you barely make it to five foot in your heels – calling you a pocket Venus when you tower over the average bloke, or – one for the boys here – raving over your washboard belly when that ship sailed many six-packs ago. I was realistic about my good and bad points and still ended up apparently gifted with alabaster skin, and my full and perfect lips being traced with a loving finger, it made me feel restless and oddly inadequate.
Don’t get into details about your lives. This is virtual. Keep it impersonal, keep it light. Explore places one of you has been to, yes, that’s quite fun, don’t get into long chats about your respective problems or it starts to feel real. It ISN’T. Share some fun stuff if you must but keep the baggage out of sight.
Of course it is a joke for me to give any advice at all considering I caused absolute havoc with my recent affair, so here is the cautionary tale. Anyone who has good tips to add, kick in with comments.
A few weeks back I wrote a blog (Messaging sex rocks) about starting a virtual affair and I haven’t written much since. Not on my blog, not worked much on the latest book, barely kept up with emails, the very occasional tweet, and very sporadic Facebook, because a quite ridiculous amount of time was being spent on this affair. I worked out that one day we had spent five, yes FIVE, hours talking to each other. Actually I did freak a bit at that point and try to dial it right back. Every morning when I fired up the pc, there would be messages on ooVoo, and if I responded, he was instantly on line. He wanted to chat every lunchtime. There would be mid afternoon messages. And every night, on the dot of ten, the ping from ooVoo and that was my evening gone until midnight. Well, at first that was quite intoxicating, and he is funny, and inventive, and I think it was three weeks before we repeated a scenario (and only then because it was one we had both enjoyed). And when you live alone, and I know I am going to start sounding defensive, it IS nice to know when you’re in the mood to chat you can drop a line and instantly get a response. But the time was becoming a problem. Part of it was that he was not, ever, to be hurried. He would undo my buttons, for example,
and stop to admire what each opened button revealed (despite exchanging detailed descriptions, I know to him I not only looked like mature Barbie, but a mature Barbie who has looked after herself really, really well.) I tried the short-cut of saying defiantly that I was stripped for action in anticipation of his arrival, so he started ‘buying’ me lingerie and posting the link on ooVoo before our meetings—I want you to be wearing this, sweetie. Links are such fun. We travelled a lot, for example. I said restlessly once that I was sick to death of what is proving to be a particularly cold and wet spring / start to summer, and that evening there was the link to a tropical island with the most beautiful deserted sun-drenched beach and lagoon you can imagine. We swam, and made out on the beach, and got caught by the incoming tide. (Talk about catching crabs.) We went to street fairs in charming locations, and got the giggles when we found chocolate-coated strawberries on one stand, because they’d featured in a recent meeting. He surprised me with a detailed and well-thought-out virtual trip to Paris for our one month anniversary (a month already? Seriously? I’m not good at keeping track of things like that). One lunchtime we browsed an Ann Summers shop, laughing out loud (well, I know I was) as we exchanged teasing links of things we found. He found an on-line auction catalogue and ‘bought’ this fabulous Art Deco mirror, for our little love-nest. Aw. Bless.
It wasn’t all sex. We almost became friends, in an odd way. I take part in a monthly short story competition, in an effort to control my tendency to waffle (judge for yourself how that’s working out), and in April I won it which was pretty cool—there are some really good stories every month, it’s a great competition. Paddy* sent me flowers and champagne. Virtual flowers and champagne, my daughter pointed out. Well, yes, but when I told her I’d won, she’d said oh, okay, that’s nice, and told me another anecdote about my grandpuppy. We were so in synch that I’d log into ooVoo to leave a message, and find him already there typing. Or I’d go to the original website (which has virtual gifts and excellent emoticons), ditto, and find a message so fresh the email notification hadn’t yet reached me.
Hang on, I thought. Isn’t he married? This is getting weird. One married friend (male) said his wife was probably doing the same on another website, the safest form of swinging ever. Another married friend (female) said I was probably acting as a virtual fluffer, sending him to bed every night primed and ready for action, and should be charging for marriage counselling. I checked his profile on the original website, and he’d shown his status as single. That was, if anything, more alarming. What single guy spent so much time and thought on a virtual affair instead of being out there living a real life? But okay . . . actually, no, not okay. I started trying to back off and reclaim my own real life. More flowers, more teddies, and more and more affection rather than lust. Oo-er. Then it came out, a passing comment, that he was married and I said right, that’s it, we’re done, this is getting way too inappropriate for an extramarital fling. My mailbox very nearly exploded under the weight of messages. Sheesh. Okay, but no more lovey-dovey gumph. Occasional meet-ups, just for fun, and by the way, I added, I’m out tonight.
As always, when I got home after my evening out, I logged in to check emails (and twitter and Facebook) and glanced on ooVoo and he was there, waiting. Not in the mood, I said sternly, and he said he’d sleep downstairs, keep his iphone on all night, in case I changed my mind. Okayyyyyyyy . . . help!
I put him off for days and finally agreed reluctantly to a ten pm meeting on Sunday night. So not in the mood. At nine-thirty I got a message saying he’d be late, something had come up, but I’ll be there ten-thirty sweetie, and I’m so sorry. Fair enough, I got on with my poor neglected book, and when ooVoo pinged it was past eleven. And he said he couldn’t say why he was late. Well of course he could, it’s a virtual relationship, right? MAKE SOMETHING UP. So I ticked him off at length, logged off and told Twitter I was mad as a hornet and got a lot of teasing and a little more sympathy than I deserved. I assumed, of course, that he’d dumped me for a romantic interlude at home and while I was fully in favour of that, I was really annoyed about my interrupted evening.
Turned out the interlude had been far from romantic. Mrs Paddy* had had enough and confiscated the iphone, he said she was being unreasonable, and there had been a prolonged quarrel. I sympathized, told him Mrs Paddy* was entirely within her rights and I was out of the picture, and we’re over.
Now I just have to get my head around my guilt. And pass on warning messages. That’s the main reason I’m sharing because wow, virtual can be intense. Be warned! He took it far more seriously, but I’ll be honest, during my earlier attempts to back off I missed him, I pined, a little bit. After all, a virtual man always looks good, never laughs too loudly or fails to perform to perfection, never belches or farts or steps on your feet when you’re whirling gracefully around a dance floor, never stares for too long at another woman; what’s not to like? He always thinks you look good, your bum never looks too big in anything, and he sends flowers, wine, and thoughtful gifts every day.
At the very least, don’t get together too often. And keep in touch with real life …
Would I ever have another virtual affair? I’m a writer, so using my imagination, and playing with words, is purest fun for me. I live alone, so someone I can talk to at any time is intoxicating, even if I have to sit on a virtual lap before I start to chatter, and have to gasp obligingly at intervals. (Ooh, ooh, to quote Joan Rivers.) He listened intensely (did everything intensely) and said the right things at the right times, I doubt I’d find that again anyway. It was (women are funny cattle) oddly unnerving. But as to having another affair, probably not. It is, when all is said and done, a little too weird!
Ever researching on your behalf,