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My Habbo Relationship History
By Ghia Vitale
When I was younger, I used to chat on Habbo Hotel. On Habbo, I had a couple of brief internet “relationships.” Here’s your chance to learn about the Habbo girlfriend and Habbo boyfriend I had when I was a kid. Warning: There are brief mentions of cybering in this essay, so it’s only intended for adult readers.
For those who don’t know, Habbo is an online chatroom for young people that lets users create avatars. According to Habbo’s Wikipedia page, “Habbo (previously known as Habbo Hotel) is a social networking service and online community aimed at teenagers.” The site is owned by a Finnish corporation called Sulake, but young users from all over the world flock to Habbo.
When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I used to socialize in the chatroom at Gurl.com. My best friend at the time (who I’m still good friends with today) used to meet me in chatroom and we’d take our shenanigans there. One day, my friend suggested that I meet her on Habbo Hotel. At the time, I had no idea what Habbo Hotel was, but when I visited the website, I was immediately intrigued. Back in the day, Habbo used to let free users choose from a variety of looks when designing avatars. Naturally, I flocked to what the goth in me wanted to look like at that moment: Jet black hair and pale skin with a black T-shirt and a black skirt. The avatars on Habbo are pixel characters. Nothing more, nothing less.
When I first went on, I fell in love with the social aspect of Habbo. Not only could I talk to my bff from school, but I could also chat with other people through our pixel avatars. The concept of the avatars appealed to me because as a fat girl, kids at school were constantly teasing me and putting me down. Habbo felt like a safe place for me because on there, people could only judge me based on my avatar and my words. And honestly, I truly enjoyed socializing without having to worry about people ridiculing me for my size.
Little did I know, a couple of the connections I made would develop into something else… something I wanted so badly, but I didn’t think I anyone would want to date me offline due to my fatness. Well, at least that’s the message that kids at school sent to me. The media said the same thing through lack of representation. Thanks, fatphobia! Later on, I would encounter fatphobia on dating sites and everywhere else I tried to date.
I’ve always been embarrassed to admit this, but my first relationships were online relationships. My first boyfriend came from an online relationship. On Habbo, I noticed my pixel avatar was getting a lot of attention from guys. These guys claimed to be my age, but obviously, you never know for sure on the internet. I didn’t engage too much with most of the guys who came onto me. I remained friendly as they bombarded me with lines like, “Asl?”, “ur cute,” “looking 2 cyber,” and other common pickup lines you hear on the internet. In a way, I was grateful to get attention from boys, even if they based their attraction to me on nothing but a bunch of pixels.
One day, I met a girl. If I’m remembering correctly, her avatar had short and blond hair along with a red tank top. She told me her name was Ellie and that she lived somewhere in the United States. (I forgot where exactly.) She said she was 2 years older than me. Eventually, she told me she was a lesbian, so I told her I’m bisexual. (Yes, I’ve known that I’m bisexual since I was a youngster. Don’t question me on this.) That’s when the flirting began. I’ve never been good at flirting and I was just as awkward of a flirt behind a keyboard. But I remember the conversation flowing smoothly and thinking, “Wow! This girl is really cool!”
I remember Ellie telling me she was a huge fan of No Doubt. She also told me she had a huge crush on Gwen Stefani. This made me a bit nervous because, well, I didn’t look anything like Gwen Stefani. (For the record, I still look nothing like Gwen Stefani.) But then, Ellie started typing the lyrics to Bathwater by No Doubt except she changed the last lyric of the chorus to this: “I can't help it, you're my kind of woman.”
Shortly afterwards, Ellie asked me to be her online girlfriend. I said yes. We decided that Bathwater by No Doubt was “our song.” I never really read the lyrics, so I didn’t know that Bathwater wasn’t exactly describing a good relationship situation.
At the time, having an online girlfriend was one of the only ways I could express my bisexuality without fearing ridicule. It felt good to let someone out there know that I like girls. Ellie and I chatted for about a month (nothing sexual) or so, but eventually, she stopped coming onto Habbo, so I accepted that our relationship was over. Still, I regard this relationship as one of my first steps towards accepting myself as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
To this day, whenever I hear Bathwater by No Doubt, I remember Ellie and our brief online fling.
Eventually, I met a boy named Oliver from the UK. His avatar had blue, spiky hair and wore a hoodie that was either blue or gray. I remember him telling me he was exactly my age. I used to fantasize about how hot I thought his accent would be. We chatted and got along well. Soon enough, he asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. We started meeting each other on Habbo Hotel every night. We even had a little chatroom/”apartment” for ourselves. There, we would talk and sometimes “cyber.” Or at least our idea of cybering—giving simple descriptions of what one of us wanted to do to the other person. It was mostly kissing, but when we got too dirty, we got censored, so our cybering mostly looked something like this:
Oliver: *puts my bobba in your bobba*
Me: OH YES! *thrusts against your bobba*
So in technically, we didn't really cyber. We had bobba.
After we had been dating for a couple of weeks, Oliver gave me a brown couch. On Habbo, you buy furniture with actual money. That means at some point, Oliver gave me a gift that required someone’s actual money to acquire. I remember getting a tiny rush of excitement when he gave me this gift because I think it was the first time a boy ever liked me enough to give me a gift. This couch would be the only piece of furniture I would ever own on Habbo. After all, I knew right away that there was no way I could convince my parents to spend real life money on Habbo pixel-furniture.
One day, Oliver entered our apartment in distress. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “MY FRIEND SAYS HE’S GOING TO STEAL ME FROM YOU!” (Yes, he said this in all caps.)
“I only want you, Oliver, so don’t worry about it,” I said, attempting to reassure him that I wasn’t going anywhere.
It didn’t work. Oliver kept raging in all caps until he left the room. He said he left to go tell his friend to back off. Meanwhile, I waited in the room and nobody came back. Not Oliver, his friend, or anyone else. That was the last time I saw Oliver. Later on, I came up with a theory: Oliver’s friend was an offline friend and they decided not to ruin their friendship over a girl on the internet. However, I never found out what actually happened to Oliver. I was almost relieved he was gone because I was sort of troubled by his ALL CAPS RAGE over the possibility of losing me to someone I've never even talked to.
I know what many of you are probably thinking: "For all you know, both of those Habbo users could've been 50 year-old men!"
Yes, I'm aware of the fact that this is a possibility. Fortunately, these internet "relationships" (if you can even call them that) were very tame. I never sent nudes and nobody asked me for nudes while I was on Habbo as a kid. The users I spoke to seemed to have the same level of maturity as me. However, I admit that during this time, I was blissfully unaware of the fact that there are many men who pretend to be queer women online. I don't think it's good for minors to get into "relationships" like this. This essay isn't supposed to provide advice. I'm mostly just confessing to a behavior I've been to embarrassed to talk about until now: seeking connections on the internet.
As you can see, my Habbo relationships weren’t anything serious. Both ended with ghosting and I can't say I was expecting these flings to end any differently. Calling these Habbo users my boyfriend/girlfriend/partner just added a little spark of crush energy to my life that I desired so much at the time. Still, I was only about 12 or 13 years old, so I doubt I could’ve handled a more “serious” relationship at that point in my life. I never talked about these experiences on Habbo because for a long time, there was a stigma surrounding online relationships. Since then, online dating has become more normalized, so now, I feel a little better about sharing these details.
In 2012, Habbo’s poor moderation practices came to light. The site almost got shut down because apparently, it wasn’t doing enough to protect children from predators and explicit content. Now, I realize that I could’ve fallen prey to a pedophile on Habbo. After all, I have no real way of knowing if the people I “dated” were actually who they said they were. My desire for acceptance made me a vulnerable target. Today, Habbo is up, running, and giving teens an online space for socializing. I can only hope Habbo has improved its moderation practices since 2012.
A few months ago, my friend asked me if I wanted to go on Habbo for the sake of nostalgia. I obliged and made an avatar. The selection for free users is much more limited than it was when I was a kid. It didn’t take long at all for an 18 year-old to approach me and ask me to cyber. So obviously, people are still doing the nasty on Habbo.
By the way, this essay is dedicated to my good friend who introduced me to Habbo Hotel. She inspired me to write about my Habbo relationship confessions. After all these years, we still get along great and I’m so grateful for her friendship. Habbo will always be a part of our history that makes us feel nostalgic.
Thanks for reading this!
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