This is a bit of a personal story, so context is needed.
Over Thanksgiving I got to see one of my favorite relatives again. She's gay and has managed to get her girlfriend to take her back after cheating. It is strange to me since she is very much my opposite. I've never cheated simply because I don't date all that much in the first place. Now, I am no longer single, and I've caught this relation of mine at a time when she has quit smoking, drinking, and apparently also cheating. Her advice to me was simply to never cheat.
As for Skyrim, I'm playing a female wood elf named Drusilla. I've had a strange run with RPGs both computer and tabletop. In no particular order I have played a male breton, female breton, male nord, male kajhit, male argonian, female argonian, male wood elf, female wood elf, and probably others I have forgotten. The previous elder scrolls games have been good to me. As for tabletop characters I have played a male eladrin mage, female gnome cyborg, female changeling, male human mage, male halfling rogue, male spaceship pilot, male clone doctor, female elf mage, female demigod, and others. I frequently get weird looks from other people at the table with my gender-bending characters. I usually even decide on the sexuality of my characters at creation (though it almost never comes up in game).
Who wouldn't love that face?
So between my own RPG gender bending and my homosexual relative I can say that I've never really thought too hard about my character's promiscuity or commitment. Even my Femshep from Mass Effect hasn't had to worry about it since she got with Liara, and since I had decided that my character was a lesbian, I still haven't had any other options for her.
That is I haven't worried about my characters sleeping around until now.
Drusilla hasn't been looking for love, mostly she's been concerned with smithing better armor and delivering arrows stealthily into throats. I also decided to look into the dark brotherhood and so ended up in Riften. Soon I also heard about the thieves' guild. I might not join the brotherhood but I will certainly steal from anyone who is foolish enough to leave their valuables right there inside of multiple locked doors and chests in a city with many guards. It's like they want me to steal it really. Actually I just wanted to train some of those skills since I wouldn't steal in town.
I go into the local tavern to get some quest hooks and wouldn't you know it there is a holy man in the bar. Maramal was his name and he was teaching about Mara and her message of love. It turns out Drusilla and I just learned about marriage in Skyrim! I had decided that she was bisexual at the beginning of the game, so the world of Skyrim speed-dating was now open to me. I took a quick look at the Skyrim wiki to see if there were any eligible people around town and immediately found a candidate.
Talking about marriage.
Mjoll the Lioness is a Nord woman who used to be an adventurer and pines for her lost sword. I figured that she would relate to Drusilla's life of adventure and appreciate the cool swords and daggers I found and used. I struck up a conversation with her and found out about her lost sword and her decision to retire from adventuring. Then the topic of the thieves' guild came up and I told her I might join. She was angry. Indeed she decided that was grounds for never talking to me again. I didn't understand... I mean clearly she opposed the corruption in Riften but that was something we could discuss and debate. I wanted to join the thieves' guild to support my adventures and train up skills that I didn't often use because I never stole from people in a city. But the Lioness didn't care about the details.
Hey cutie, I like your tattoo. Or is that a scar?
Needless to say I was a bit shocked by the quick rejection of my first potential suitor. Even so, I quickly got over it and killed the woman running the orphanage.
Later on I had forgotten that I was wearing the Amulet of Mara when I made my way back to Whiterun. I was popular there and have done most of the quests so I knew the people well. I happened to talk to Ysolda again and she asked me about the amulet. Wait, she's a potential partner? She had asked me to get her a mammoth tusk many levels ago when I wasn't powerful enough to kill a mammoth on my own. I had managed to find one that wasn't attached to a mammoth and give it to her. I remembered that she wanted to start her own trading business and heck, she is pretty to boot. Hey, she's pretty and ambitious (and her voice actor sounds cute too) so I'll at least run through the dialogue tree.
It's hard being a woman in Skyrim.
She asks about the amulet, I respond that I am looking for love. She says she is interested and wonders if I am too. I say yes. She says we will be married tomorrow.
I know Maramal told me that love and courting in Skyrim was short, but hey, not even a date first? Now what was I to do? I mean I wanted to see what she had to say and maybe marry her after a few small quests where I get to learn more about her. Instead I had inadvertently agreed to marry her the next day! My heart pounded in my chest. Feeling embarrassment and no small measure of shame I reloaded my last autosave.
Strange as it may sound that moment made me feel the most intense emotion of anything that has happened yet in my play through of Skyrim. Am I cheating on that NPC? Ysolda has no memory of the conversation. Maybe it just felt more relevent due to my own life experience with relationships. Maybe I never expected my moral character to be called into question in such a way within the safe parameters of a videogame. Does this have larger meaning with my newly found IRL love?
All I know is that I'm going to feel guilty every time I walk through the market of Whiterun. Maybe I'll make an honest woman of her yet.
Alik'r in my Whiterun? Not on my watch.
Also, I'm a fucking werewolf! read