Part of the fun of RPing is not being able to predict what the other characters are going to do. For some, there is no plan and it’s completely winging. For others (such as myself) there is usually a loose framework in place, but it can be rewritten if the characters react differently than expected. The key is to remain in communication and remember where the boundaries are.
Problems come into place when those boundaries are crossed, or when communication breaks down. These are my personal signs that something has gone south, and you should consider breaking up the partnership (which is a post for another time, I will get to it).
1) They stop answering your messages. We all get busy, not every message gets answered within the hour or even the same day. People also go on vacation or have emergencies happen. I usually wait a week or two before I send a follow-up message, and then see what happens. But even if you are completely free-forming your plot, keeping a conversation of reactions going helps insure that both of you are having fun and are still engaged. If that breaks down, it’s a sign of dark days ahead.
It could also mean that, for whatever reason, they are away from the computer unexpectedly for a while. If you are on a site that requires monthly posting, this is a big problem, and while you shouldn’t completely give up on them, start making back-ups and tracking down a potential replacement.
Of course, it could also mean that they are about to take a left into Crazy Town. I have horror stories, mostly involving the same person, where suddenly the plot went side-ways from what we had previously decided, and the person refused to respond to messages when I expressed my concern and my lack of enthusiasm for this new direction. Either way, silence is not a good sign, but can be okay in the long run.
2) They start messaging too much. On the opposite end of a spectrum, there is such a thing as bugging someone to death. If you messaged them an hour ago, and they have logged on since then, they probably saw it or were only on long enough to read things, but weren’t at a place to reply. Maybe they have to think about the answer.
Being constantly barraged by messages outside of RP is exhausting. It is also the first signal of entitlement to a response. At this point, just talking could fix the issue, re-establishing boundaries. You definitely don’t have to take it, though, and if it doesn’t stop, consider finding a new partner before you hit the next problem.
3) They feel entitled to anything you write. This could be applicable to just your RPs. They feel like they are your partner, and if you join a new RP they need to join too and their character has to be paired with yours. It’s one thing to be friends and like to RP with each other because you trust them not to bork you over. It’s another for someone to constantly do it without your consent.
Sometimes it can even extend beyond the RP, and they feel entitled to any sort of writing you’ve shared with them. Original, fanfic, alternate ways scenes could have happened in the RP, anything you’ve written, they feel like belongs to them even more than it does you. This is when things are going to be ugly when you break. Make sure you’ve either posted everything, or whatever they have is easily proven as yours not theirs, just in case.
Because the fall-out is going to be ugly.
They will start to poison your relationships with the other RPers on the website you are using, even if it is an RP they aren’t involved in. They will try to drag others into the break-up, telling them half the story in order to make themselves look like the victim. Passive-aggressive messages will pop into your inbox, and basically they are going to make a nuisance of themselves.
Sometimes the moderators will get involved if you ask. Sometimes they won’t. Handling it is a nightmare all around. But if you notice the earlier markers, you might be able to get out of the relationship before it gets that far. Because it is a relationship. Just like dating (and finding an agent), finding good RP partners is hard, and you have to wade through the crazies. They also take constant work to keep communication and barriers you are both comfortable with.
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