The question of why it’s difficult to find good male lovers in Second Life is probably a lot like a combination of real estate and Taoism.

From real estate, we learn that the best homes and locations generally go quick and are occupied for a long time. So if something’s on the market, chances are that’s because it’s not as good as the stuff that’s *off* the market. In other words, many of the good men are either gay or partnered. Which is good! Gay and partnered are both good places to be in the universe.

From Tao, we find that the way that can be spoken is not the true way. If we aggressively pursue the Tao, we have lost the Tao.

In the same way, if someone only thinks about sex and uses Second Life only for sex, he (or she) is unlikely to be a great lover from the point of view of someone to whom sex has as much to do with being than with doing. I’m not knocking the doing, though. Doing has a lot to recommend it.

What I mean is, from a certain perspective good sex involves a human connection, a relationship. People enjoying one another’s company and being interested in one another. If there’s nothing to be interested in, this part fails.

And if you’re flirting, you need to have something to appear to be talking about so that you can establish a good undercurrent of sexual tension.

And doing things other than sex in Second Life lets you run into other people who do things other than sex in Second Life.

Well, let me stop right there. So far this has sounded a bit like an introduction to a book on giving good love in a virtual and uncertain world. I’ll stop that and get to the social things. Are women in Second Life just more likely to be social than men? Are the men I meet in Second Life just less likely to share their personalities and interests? Or are we dealing with some basic differences between men and women?

I’m going to take some wild guesses at some of this. Some of it I think is the classic gender differences we’re familiar with, although there’s the whole question of whether that’s about biological differences, cultural differences, or both is covered by people wiser than me elsewhere.

But there are different expectations of men in Second Life, or apparent expectations. A friend today was telling me about how he accidentally said in public chat something he meant to say quietly to a friend, that he didn’t like a certain person who was there. The person in question then pursued him with angry IMs until my friend logged off some time later, even though my friend had apologized.

I had a similar experience not long ago when I said something unflattering about a person in IM. I very rarely do this, but I wanted my friend to know I wasn’t comfortable with the person, because it was necessary for us to be around him for a while.

Unfortunately I IM’d it to the wrong person … the guy I was talking about.

In my case, I … well, I pretended it was a flirt. That’s embarrassing to say, because I think what might be the best thing to do would be simply apologize, but at the time I simply pretended I was flirting, as in. “This guy is making me nervous.”

(Pause while I realize what I’ve done.)


(The winky emoticon is meant to say, “Ho ho! You are making me nervous, my friend, and I like it, you big manly man, you!”)

I frankly don’t know if he saw right through that and just politely pretended along with me about the flirt, or if he really read it as a flirt. I couldn’t fault him for either reading in a world where emotional clues are so hard to come by.

But the thing is, the recovery was instant. And I’ve done other silly and embarrassing things, too, and they simply haven’t been held against me. Men seem to be held to a different standard much of the time, don’t they? People may be less willing to forget about a foolish moment or an embarrassing mistake. So if men can’t afford to look silly as much as women can, they may be less likely to do things for fear of doing something that makes them look silly. And of course there are men who don’t mind looking silly (which is one reason it’s so easy to love RaH) and women who can’t stand looking silly, but I’m talking about a general trend.

And there’s the old stereotype of men needing actual sex more and women needing attention and relationship more, which I think has its limits but which certainly seems to bear out in Second Life on average.

So it’s just like real life in one way: If more men learn to offer the emotional connection and relationship advantages, they are more likely to get what they’re looking for. This reflects well on Second Life, in that as someone posted in the Second_Lifers community recently (was it Grizzy?), being in a bar in Second Life feels much like being in a bar in Real Life … and in the same way, meeting people in Second Life feels a lot like meeting people in Real Life.

I apologize that this post winds up doing more speculating than illuminating, but maybe it’s the first half of a post. I’d like to hear more from people here in comments or in Second Life (I’m Kate Amdahl there, of course) about this, if anyone can shed any light on these issues. And steer interesting men my way so that I can figure out more about how they differ from the men I’ve met who bulldoze in and immediately start looking for pose balls. There doesn’t have to be more to Second Life than pose balls, but if there isn’t, it’s not much of a life.