Guild Chat: Keeping romantic relationships from affecting MMORPG guilds

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively Overpowered readership can band together to solve the guild-related queries and problems of readers in need.  In this edition, reader Roxxus is worried about forming a romantic attachment with an in-guild love interest in case it affects the guild’s group dynamics and ruins the fun that the pair is currently having as platonic guildmates. Roxxus seems to be concerned about how to handle an online relationship without opening up that blossoming romance to the external influences already present in his or her guild, and the pair is perhaps considering getting together without telling anyone else in the guild. Read on for Roxxus’ full submission as well as my ideas, and don’t forget to leave your own thoughts on the matter in the comments.

This is a difficult one to write but I’m falling for a guild member and want some good advice. I’ve liked this person for the longest time as a friend and we have now connected more than I originally thought we would over TeamSpeak. She asked me if I would like to call this chemistry something more and if I think of her as my girlfriend and I want to say yes but we never met in person and I have never seen her on video even so it feels crazy to me even though I do feel something for her and want it to be more.

We live in the same place more or less and only have to drive an hour to meet but I haven’t made the drive yet because I don’t know if this is a real thing or not. I also am an officer in the guild we are in and she isn’t and I worry that people will say I’m showing her preferential treatment or something if I tell them we’re together. I also don’t want any future rows or breakups to ruin what we have in our guild because we have worked very hard to make a great bunch of strong PvPers that get results. If I do this how do I set boundaries or keep the relationship secret from the guild?

First of all, congratulations on helping to maintain a successful guild that has such fantastic dynamics that personal relationships can flourish: This is not an easy state for many guilds to maintain, and it’s refreshing to receive a submission that isn’t regarding a problem with poor guild setup. I can see why you would be worried about rocking the boat when you’re a part of an established, successful guild, but I always like to remind people that prioritising real-world relationships over in-game guild dynamics is typically the best option. You could meet up with this girl in real life and not feel the same spark you do online, of course, but this could likewise be the start of a fulfilling and long-term relationship that carried great importance in your later life. It’s worth making the leap to find out, so let me guide you through the steps I would take if I was to find myself in your shoes.

Tackling the g-word

Humans place a staggering amount of emphasis on labelling and boxing everything in their personal spheres to make the messy world make as much sense as possible, but sometimes it is better to let relationships take its course without popping confining definitions on there during the getting to know you phase. I notice from your submission that it is the lady you’re developing feelings for that is pushing for a label on whatever is brewing between the two of you, and it makes me wonder if perhaps you’re worried about making the relationship official before you’re comfortable to just as much as you’re worried about letting the guild in on recent developments. If I’m wrong, feel free to ignore my advice for you here, but I deeply suspect that the online nature of your meeting makes it difficult for you to call this an actual relationship.

Don’t feel at all pressured to call this lady your girlfriend at this stage: She may well be craving that validation of her own feelings and confirmation of your own, but that doesn’t mean that it is the right time to do that. The fear you have about the validity of this blossoming romance is clear to see, so steer clear of announcing the relationship to the guild and don’t let yourself be tied into anything before you have a massive heart to heart about how you’re feeling. Organise some time for you both to discuss this and make the drive to see if the chemistry persists in real-life.

Bringing up the c-word

A great many couples meet online and form lasting relationships based on that virtual contact: Look at online dating sites, Tinder, and the huge number of stories like your own to be shared on MMO fan sites and forums. Having said that, you always run the risk of coming across unpleasant characters who are not who you think they are based on their online personas. I hate to bring up catfishing when you are feeling nervous as it is, but I can’t help noticing that you mention the fact that you have never seen this woman on video or in person, which is always a warning sign in my head. Don’t get me wrong: People can and do have entirely valid, genuine reasons for not appearing on camera at the drop of the hat, but I would be reluctant to move any potential relationship forward without meeting in person first.

Physically meeting can be an overwhelming, potentially scary process, and when you throw on the added pressure of trying to impress someone you’re attracted to, it can be all too easy to put off in-person meetings. Remember that you can make this as low-key as you like: Involve other vaguely local guild members and call it a guild meet, attend a large public event together so you have plenty of options in case things don’t work out, and don’t be pressured into defining things or progressing the relationship before you’ve had that opportunity to meet her properly. Share your fears and make it known why meeting up is so important to you: If she is who she says she is, she’ll be feeling much the same way about your real-life identity if video chats haven’t happened.

When does the guild need to know?

The short answer to this question of yours, Roxxus, is that your personal life is just that, so you don’t have to tell your guild about your relationship if it makes either of you uncomfortable to do so. This isn’t a workplace and no one is going to sue for conflict of interest: It’s fair to assume that in any group dynamic some members of the group will be closer than others, and this is largely why guilds run better with a team of leaders who can more fairly arbitrate any muddiness caused by these interpersonal relationships. I’m by no means telling you that your relationship should stay a secret, but I do want to make it clear that you are in no way obligated to discuss the personal nature of your fledgeling relationship with your guildmates.

Should you both meet in person and feel the same spark you do when talking online, you’ll still only be beginning your romantic relationship with each other: Giving yourselves time to get more acquainted with one another and focusing on developing into a loving couple should take priority over deciding who to tell and when. You might find that if and when you are ready to let the gang know you’re a couple that they already have worked it out or suspected that you’d get together some day, so it may not be as big a deal as it seems to be in this unsure period. When you’re more comfortable with what you have going on between you are less unsure of where you both stand, telling people will come much more naturally anyway, so get the relationship off the ground first before worrying about guild dynamics and other external things.

Breakups are difficult no matter if you share a friendship pool before the relationship or not since the natural progression of a relationship tends to blur “ownership” of each person’s friends anyway, but the fallout is entirely manageable by reasonable adults and half the battle is in acknowledging that you don’t want any relationship breakdown to impact on your gaming. Guilds can cope with changing dynamics provided the guild leader is aware of the problem: Letting your guild leader know that you’ve had a falling out and would rather not mingle in teams, for instance, would be wise, though you shouldn’t feel the need to divulge all the gory details in doing so. Remember that drama can only spill out of your relationship if you let it, so agree not to complain about each other to your guildmates (and any other mutual friends who would be placed in the middle) after arguments if you don’t want them to take sides or interfere.

Letting what-if, worst-case scenarios prevent you from taking (managed, ordinary) chances is a sorry state of affairs, so don’t let fear of things not working out totally eliminate the chance of something special blossoming from your time spent gaming. Good luck and let me know how it goes with your lady friend!

Over to you!

Have you ever conducted an online relationship in an MMO guild or gaming group, and if so, did it have any sort of knock-on effect? Share your words of advice with Roxxus in the comments below.

Many thanks to Roxxus for this heartfelt submission. If you have a guild-related issue you’d like to see discussed in an edition of Guild Chat, email me your submission for consideration. 

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.

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23 Comments on "Guild Chat: Keeping romantic relationships from affecting MMORPG guilds"

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Melissa McDonald

Ahh.. the internet. Where you meet people you’re totally compatible with, they’re just 3000 miles away. Sigh.
You never know when or where you’re going to meet someone… never say never.

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mistressbrazen

Good advice however, I would say video chat before meeting in person. Meeting in person can be scary, but if you set good parameters first and put safety measures in first, the worse thing that can happen is you end up with an interesting story. The best thing is that you have the beginnings of a new relationship or develop a closer friendship.

On telling the guild: your guild mates will know anyway. It becomes clear fairly quickly when a guild leader is in a new romance with a member. Pet names in chat or that “lovey-dovey” voice in Teamspeak/Discord is a dead give away. To avoid drama, don’t privilege the girl friend if she hasn’t earned her place for a highly desired raiding opportunity, for example. And if things don’t go well, PLEASE for the love of god, don’t involve the guild in the break up mess. Keep your complaints about each other to yourselves and do not talk about it in guild chat or over voice chat.

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kgptzac

I too agree with video chatting first. Seeing each other’s face is part of the chemistry of romance, and not doing it before meeting up in person strikes me a particularly unsmart move.

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Alex Malone

I met my last girlfriend through an MMO and we were together for 3 years. I was guild leader and she was a regular member, to be honest I hadn’t even noticed her in game. We had a guild meeting in London (…pissup) and she turned up and I was blown away. My advice based on my own experiences:

1) Meet her first – this is absolutely critical. If you’ve been chatting on teamspeak for ages then you should be alright, but people are very different online to real life. Do not take things further until you know you can get on well with her properly. Maybe become friends with her on facebook first before meeting up.

2) Don’t try to hide it – you should never start a relationship based on secrets, but more importantly, the guild will find out regardless. You don’t have to broadcast it, but be honest.

3) Plan for preferential treatment – again, this is unavoidable. My ex sucked at MMOs – she was new to gaming, let alone MMOs, and sucked at everything. But, we enjoyed spending time with one another and so I naturally included her in nearly everything I did. If you’ve been open about your relationship, this shouldn’t be a problem.

4) Plan around guild commitments – as guild leader, I had to lead most of our raids and pvp sessions. This was occasionally awkward for progression raids – my girlfriend took roughly 1 year to get good enough for progression raids – so just make sure your reasoning is clear. I could demonstrate clear reasons for not taking my gf on progression raids, so other guildies were happy and my gf, whilst upset, at least understood.

5) If you do get together, it will affect your future gaming choices – this is something that I only appreciated after my breakup. About 2 years after getting together, I completely lost interest in the MMO we were playing. My guild and girlfriend had been the only reasons I logged in for the previous year and I’d had enough. So, I left for another MMO and started a new branch of our guild there. I had assumed our relationship was strong enough, but in reality our time together in MMOs was a much more important part of our relationship than I had anticipated. My changing games sparked the beginning of the end of our relationship. If you’re good communicators then this shouldn’t be an issue, but I would expect to be playing games you don’t really enjoy just because she does for a long time!

6) He who dares, wins – ultimately, you’re worrying about a game and a relationship that hasn’t happened. There are more games and more guilds and more girls out there, so it’s worth taking the shot you have now.

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Utakata

As the unromantic Gnome chiming in, all I can think of forming relationships with guildies will only lead to trouble, potential for conflicts of interests, getting personal becomes more problematic in the ad hominem, drama, blurting out about each others bathroom habits unintentionally over chat, etc., etc., etc…so don’t do it!

But what do I know? The only couple I have here are a pair of pigtails. :(

Mewmew
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Mewmew

I can’t help but think that if the girl in this situation also reads this site that she’s going to easily recognize it’s her that’s being talked about.

Absolutely do not call it anything more without meeting or at least video chatting. For a random girl that’s not always okay, but this is a situation where you are getting into a relationship with both of you agreeing. In that situation it’s not only okay to video chat but pretty important to.

Don’t even think of it as a budding relationship in your head until you actually meet or video chat. If both of you *truly* don’t care I guess that’s up to you. But you *both* have to really *really* not care. It’s still pretty bad to do as people can act so much different once around them in person but if you must do it think up every extreme situation that you can about what the person could look like and both feel that it would be okay.

People online will lie a lot, even when you think you’re close. They think someone will fall in love with their personality and it will overcome everything else. The problem is that personality is often a liar and that does matter even if extreme weight issues or other things would not have otherwise.

As for the guild itself, I’d probably keep them out of it to start with at least. It’s going to be awkward enough without the entire guild knowing about the meeting and possible relationship on the table. If things do work out eventually you can tell them. Sure, people may be worried about favoritism at that point (in which case they’d usually be right *Edit – right to worry, not right about it actually happening :D) but it would be worse if it was kept secret and they found out later and looked back thinking all these decisions happened because you were with her. That’s a long ways off though. It takes time to see if you’re actually compatible with someone, time spent in person, of which it’s going to be strange enough without the entire guild being in on it.

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Little Bugbear

You need to meet them before you start dating, and if they won’t meet don’t date them (Catfish). If you both still like each other after meeting start going on dates but take it slow. Also don’t worry too much about the guild they should under stand life happens. Guilds are not jobs, they are groups of people who enjoy the same hobby (people are bound to fall for each other). Take it slow and use the Golden Rule, and great relationship could blossom.

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Malcolm Swoboda

My partner has brought up the concept of me working at the same place as him. Its NEVER gonna happen. But guild? Eh whatever.

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Sajiri

I met my partner in a linkshell back in FFXI, and a few years later we were married. Just had our fifth anniversary a couple months back even. So relationships online can definitely succeed, but you need to be honest about what you want and what you are comfortable with, both to yourself and your partner.

She may have legitimate reasons for not getting on camera (some people are pretty shy) but I hope you’ve at least heard her voice, although that can be faked too. Even though I know relationships online can work, you still should be careful before you go too far. Maybe you should try to meet in a public place, and understand that it will be different in person, no matter how close you are online it will be like starting all over again, so treat it like a casual/friendly meet up rather than a date with your girlfriend.

I don’t see any reason to tell or deny if you end up dating to your guildies. If they’re mature and expect it, and they have no reason to believe she would get preferential treatment then I see nothing wrong with anyone knowing. If there’s a history of romantic partners (even of other people) getting special treatment in the guild then maybe keep it quiet.

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Rolan Storm

To the quetsion: nah, I am oldschool. All guildies/online contacts dear friends at best. Saves the headache and toxic drama.

On the topic: this article is best and most thought-out complete advise on the matter I ever encountered. I’d pick a guild meeting as a course of action. Voice chemistry is nice and cute, but you have to find out who she is.

Shintar
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Shintar

Seems like solid advice to me. A bit surprised by all the negative comments about relationships! My own experiences with this sort of thing have been nothing but positive really. When my partner and I got together, our guildies were simply happy for us and used it as another opportunity for friendly teasing.

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Jeff

Wow…..so glad I’m married and don’t have to deal with this nonsense. My guild has seven core members, we have been playing games together since 1977 when I joined their D&D group, when it comes up with non core members we have an as long as it doesn’t bother our groove and we don’t have to participate, as in get involved.

If that happens we go all scorched earth and just kick everyone involved. I know that sounds harsh but we have also had a tight happy and successful gaming guild (both table top and video) for 40 years.

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Dystopiq

Just like you don’t date co-workers, don’t date guildies.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

I hear this a lot, but have also met great couples that met at work. The thing is, a lot of then also changed their work place after that. I don’t want to say the same should be done with guilds, but when it happened with an ex, we did try to keep to different guilds unless both needed us for something big.

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Leviathonlx

I did once before but it didn’t last for very long. The woman enjoyed the attention from all the awkward flirty dudes in the guild a bit too much.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

my irl best friend and adopted brother met his wife in guild. they started dating online for about six months during which he increasingly isolated himself from us, from irl responsibilities, and his irl friends and family.

h eillegally immigrated to texas to be with her and almost completely dissapeared. if i diddn’t keep messaging him on steam he probably would have.

he’s since resurfaced but doesn’t hang out with the guild like he used to. and her joining us in discord one night recently kept saying she doesn’t like me without saying why. even going as far as to say she missed one of the guys i kicked last year who was often such an ass to her that i had to tell him to relax and take a chill pill. but i guess i’m the bad guy for “reasons” unknown. XD

i don’t much like her at this point. but she’s my bro’s wife so i do what i must.

unique case i guess. ymmv. just don’t drop your friends and fam for a girl you met online from another country imho.

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Sashaa

Been there, done that.
Meet her first, in real life. Get to know her, in real life.
Everything else comes second.

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NeoWolf

Life comes first, Games come second. Never put game concerns ahead of real life concerns..EVER. Fun is fun, but life is life.

Contrary to the popular belief of the young, life is not filled with endless opportunities and second chances, when good things come your way grab them with both hands, tip your head upwards and say thank you ;)

If things work out great, if not just be mature about it and their will be no game concerns.

Benjamin Northrup
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Benjamin Northrup

I met my fiance in Forsaken World, in the same position you are in. I was the Tank officer, the only high level tank in our guild at the time. She was extremely abrasive and had to be kicked from the guild because she was tearing it apart. Just know that you guys don’t have to remain in the same guild, or really publicize it at all. nobody will really care if you give them “preferential treatment” or whatever as long as its not something egregious like keeping them in the guild when they are a recognized detrement to the fun of the other members.

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Jack Pipsam

Sounds like a good way to spark up drama and annoyance among guildmates if it becomes a constant fling thing when trying to play.

I’d almost wager any romance stuff be kept to private chat.

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

People talking about their relationships or letting their relationship play out in guild chat is akin to those friends all of us have that fall for each other and for the next few months to whenever are constantly in PDA(Public Display of Affection)Mode. It’s awful. There’s no reason you can’t keep that private. It makes others uncomfortable and it’s rude. It’s rude like someone who says let’s grab lunch and then proceeds to spend the entire time on their phone.

When you carry your relationship out in guild chat it’s a form of exhibitionism, because you could and should just as easily be able to carry that out in private PMs.

Have a relationship, but a romantic relationship between two people should be private. When people start getting showy about it, it’s a weird form of exhibitionism and flaunting and it’s all sorts of uncomfortable in chat or comms. Same goes for real life.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah that’s how I feel about it. Rarely does it happen with couples who’ve been together for a long while, unless they’re like mega clingy with each other or the dude’s trying to show off and act all alpha (in reality just looking like a douche/tool). Not saying you can’t show ANY affection or something but keep the majority of it private – the guild doesn’t need to constantly be reminded who the new couple in the room is.

And of course in MMOs, no special treatment in group content for the girlfriend if you’re a guild leader/officer, because that’s one of the biggest drama starters and a quick way to create dividing tensions in the guild.

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CthulhuDawg

Two words, good luck.

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