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Is it wrong to RP a relationship, when you are in a relationship yourself?

This question was first asked in our Facebook group, where it provoked an interesting discussion. It was such a great topic that I copied it over to RPG-Directory and asked the roleplayers there too, who are a very vocal bunch of mostly forum roleplayers.

Chris, who plays Phil in Blue Dwarf replied first with:

184498_10151691127821967_1346191233_nI don’t think so, otherwise authors etc would never be able to write about relationships if they where in one, same for actors in films – as long as it was open and not explicit then there is not a problem – The problem only arises if the person doing the writing has problems distinguishing between the *characters* relationship and the *players/actors* and thinking they are the same person.

Daenelia said:

Daenelia RPG-DIt’s make believe, fiction, pretend, not real.

That is like saying dreaming about someone else than your partner is wrong too. Or having an argument in your dreams and then blaming your partner for that argument when awake.

Will Graham said:

Wil GrahamNope. If my husband had an issue with it, and believed I was “cheating” on him or something of that sort, he needs to get his priorities right. He knows I role-play, and he knows what kinds of relationships my characters get into. I write anything from docile home life scenes to sexual ones and he’s aware of it. He just doesn’t get what role-playing in a forum-based format is, but he’s done it before, even when he was in previous relationships anyway.

All of my ex-girlfriends/boyfriends knew I role-played, and they never seemed to have an issue with it. I just don’t divulge every detail and they generally don’t care. My husband knows I’m a writer, and that comes with relationships in the territory.

Like I said, if he did get all offended by it or was out of his mind implying something, I’d have a sit down and tell him he needs to get his facts straight. I won’t tolerate him being a jealous ninny about something I love to do as a hobby.

Morticia said:

Morticia RPG-DNo, it’s not wrong to RP a relationship when the writer(s) is in a relationship OOC. I suppose it ultimately comes down the the couple in each case really, I would probably get a bit huffity if my boyfriend was RPing a relationship with some other girl but at the same time – I know it’s just RP, and as long as no wires get crossed I wouldn’t get upset about it.
Before I get grilled for this! My BF and I usually pair our characters up, we met through RP

Smutty threads on the other hand, I don’t think I’d be very pleased if I found out my boyfriend was partaking in this sort of RP with another girl. Fade to black? Sure, go for it. No fade? >:[

If I found that my BF and his RP couple had had a child or two, I couldn’t care less, haha. Even if we had kids of our own, these writing spawns aren’t real!

Morticia seemed to draw the line at writing smut with another person. Relationships, romance, children etc is all fine. But writing smutty sex-scenes with another player’s character might be too far. I asked if everyone agreed on that. This kicked off the debate good and proper.

Will Graham disagreed:

Wil GrahamI have a right to explore my creativity in whatever way necessary as long as I do not cross that line between IC and OOC. I’m an adult, and I feel that sometimes an adult relationship (even in a game) deserves to be explored on any level required. My books are the same way. If I were to write a sex scene between two of my characters in a book, how is that different than role-playing out that scene between two characters, one of which just happens to not be of my own devising?

But not everyone quite agreed, and it turned into a debate about what a couple can trust each other with in a relationship. Leith said:

Leith RPG-DMy fiance and I have an agreement – neither of us will roleplay relationships with anyone unless we’re both comfortable with the other person. We will not write smut with anyone, period. Personal choice. There’s a reason for this though – in the past, we’ve both had people who could not separate IC from OOC and caused some serious issues trying to interfere and break us up so they could have whichever of us they’d attached themselves to. It made both of us incredibly leery of roleplaying relationships with anyone since it’s happened several times.

We do, however, have several relationships in play around the web with others now that we’ve gotten to know them OOC and know we’re not going to have a repeat of what happened in the past. If we ever have someone start to get to that obsessive stage OOC to where they’re dominating our time, trying to break us up, or getting jealous of the time we spend with each other, then we will end the IC relationship. It’s not healthy to subject yourself and your relationship [general yous] to someone who cannot separate IC and OOC, or to someone who tries to force smut, since that’s a line neither of us is willing to cross – for reference, we don’t even write smut with each other on public boards, and only very rarely in email RPs. I’m not comfortable with it, simple as that.

The discussion went on for a lot longer, with loads of really interesting opinions. You can follow and participate here on RPG-D. What’s your opinion about this?

  • Alex

    No, it is not like writing a novel, because when you’re writing a novel you’re not interacting with another person, it’s *all* you, so its different. When you’re RPing you are waiting to see others’ responses, and might be all excited about them – and I’m not entirely sure that’s fair to a RL partner, particularly if it’s saucy scenes. In some situations I would imagine that it is almost (almost) like *part* of you is having an online affair.
    While in lots of ways, yes of course it is “just writing, just RPing, just a game” etc, also I have seen Chris/Phil (who I think is amazing, btw) saying on another article, and many other people, saying that your character is a personal extension of/parts of/another form of yourself – so where do you draw the line? Are you turned on by a girl writing a sexy scene with your character? Would your wife mind that?
    Likening it to acting I can understand (but there are some actors partners who don’t like it either – it might be ‘acting’ but those are lips are still pressing against anothers. And in RPing perhaps two people are mentally connecting).
    Conclusion: I don’t know completely how I feel about it, it’s a really confusing issue and I love writing sauce and wish it was completely okay, I’m just not sure it is. And, as with everything, it’s important to consider people’s feelings.
    Not sure it IS fair on RL partners if someone else is “wooing” their lover online via a character.
    Also, if it’s someone who doesn’t post much and doesn’t care about the game much, it’s gonna be different to someone who writes nearly every day and knows their character inside out. You could end up spending more romantic time with another person vicariously through your character, than IRL with your partner. Uncomfortable/weird?

    • Alex

      By the way it’s not like the dreaming analogy, because you’re not usually in control of your dreams.

    • Alex

      [This isn’t the normal kind of discussion I’d ever bother to
      comment on or have a strong opinion about, I’m only bothering to say
      anything because 1) This question was obv asked because I was worrying
      about it and talking to Becca about this the other day. And 2) Because
      my character’s been flirty with another character/responding a little to
      her liking him, and I didn’t realise the other character’s owner had a
      partner till very recently, and when I found out I felt weird and
      potentially out of order. (And no not because I can’t separate fantasy
      and real life :p but because I just thought it might not be very nice for him.)]