Woman set to marry toyboy lover after they met as online avatars living 15,000 miles apart

A woman is set to marry her toyboy lover 18 years her junior – after they met as AVATARS in a virtual reality game.
Fiona Batty was 39 when she met 21-year-old Patrik Persson on Second Life, an online virtual reality world where users create characters, known as avatars, and socialise with complete strangers.

Fiona, while living in Brisbane, Australia, picked an avatar called Phoebe who she believed looked like her in real life.
After logging onto the site one day in 2007, she immediately hit it off with tall, broad, tattooed 'Sareth' – who was actually Patrik.


Fiona Batty and Patri from Söderhamn
The pair immediately hit it off

In real life, Patrik is a fibre optics technician from Söderhamn, Sweden.
The pair lived 15,000 miles apart and knew nothing about each other.
But remarkably they started dating online, even building a virtual home together.


PA Real LifeFiona Batty and Patri from Söderhamn
Their avatar alter egos

But they did not talk in real life until a YEAR later, when they met in April 2008 for a whirlwind four days in Stockholm.
At the end of their trip they declared their love for one another and now, eight years on, they live together in Brisbane.
They are trying for a baby and Patrik has an engagement ring in his drawer but hasn't yet proposed.



PA Real LifeFiona Batty and Patri from Söderhamn
The built a virtual home together

"We picked the ring together," Fiona laughed. "We will get married. It just hasn't happened yet.
"It's great how we met, it always raises eyebrows."
Fiona was working for an education company when she first discovered Second Life, logging on to see if it was a site her employers could use.


PA Real LifeFiona Batty and Patri from Söderhamn
They didn't mean in real life until a year later

But soon she became hooked on hanging around virtual beaches, chatting to strangers.
She was particularly drawn to Sareth, who she said made her laugh - and he was captivated by her too.
Initially, the pair talked in groups but after a few weeks they'd sneak off to private spots on the beach and chat one-on-one.


PA Real LifeFiona Batty and Patri from Söderhamn
The couple are set to marry

Gradually, they spent more and more time online, logging on daily to see how the other was getting on. despite the eight-hour time difference.
"I told him I was in my 30s and he said he was in his 20s," Fiona said. "Actually I was 39 and he was 21. He thought I was around 30 and I thought he was about 28.
"We didn't discuss our actual ages until a year later, but it didn't matter."


PA Real LifeFiona Batty and Patri from Söderhamn
Fiona is 18 years older than Patri

Second Life users can 'build' homes and Fiona created a house - which Patrik was always in.
"We'd lie in bed and chat," she said.
Fiona said she knew Patrik was special when, on New Year's Eve 2007, he organised for all their Second Life pals to go to hers at midnight for a party.


PA Real LifeFiona Batty and Patri from Söderhamn
They met on site Second Life

"I was sick and he arranged a virtual do," she laughed. "He knew I couldn't actually go out."
With her friends sick of her mooning over him without having ever met him, Fiona decided to take the plunge in 2008 and organise a face-to-face meet up.
Fiona, who used to live in London, said: "They told me to see if I liked him, to get it out of my system."


PA Real LifeFiona Batty and Patri from Söderhamn
Patri was living 15,000 miles away in Sweden

Arriving at the airport, she was immediately bowled over by him.
She continued: "He looked like his avatar. We started chatting – and didn't stop."

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