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A woman fell in love with a man she married in a computer game prompting her to leave her real-life husband to get hitched to the man behind the avatar.
Kelly Sexton, from Kent,was an avid gamer of Second Life, where users make an online version of themselves and interact with others and it was here she met the man she would marry both online and then in real life.
The mum-of-four created a tall, heavily tattooed character called Selena for herself and had a 'job' as a waitress in a digital nightclub on the game.
On New Year's Eve 2016 she was 'working' in the club when she saw a new avatar called Staticmuseshe hadn't seen before belonging to Nick Von Asten.
The pair started dating in the game and would spend up to 20 hours a day chatting together, however, at first Kelly insisted it was just a game and it wouldn't spill over into her real life.
Two months after meeting their Second Life characters got married and, over the next year, Kelly and Nick, who lived in the US, fell for each other.
Kelly said she and her husband of nine years had fallen out of love with each other, so she asked him for a divorce, meaning she was free to marry Nick.
Three years after they first met in the virtual nightclub, Kelly flew 4,000 miles and the pair tied the knot in Wisconsin surrounded by close family.
Kelly said: "It feels like a fairy-tale to meet someone who's 4,000 miles away and have that strong connection.
"When I first saw him I felt like my soul had found its mate - my missing piece. It's a perfect story with a perfect ending.
"I didn't think he could fall in love with me. I'm 10 years older, I'm not exactly slim and I have a disability - it's a lot for most people to take.
"But he loved me from the moment he met me. I got lucky, he's gorgeous."
Kelly, who suffers from fibromyalgia, ME and non-epileptic attack disorder (NEAD), says she initially started to play the game as an escape from the debilitating pain of her conditions - often gaming all day and night to distract herself.
"You tend to find a lot of people who are disabled use Second Life because it gives you a bit of an escape," she said.
"It's a very intense type of game you can lose yourself in, you could lose your sense of reality.
"We talked for about 20 hours non-stop, I knew instantly he was special, we just had this massive connection and we had a lot in common.
"I was wary, but I fell in love with his voice and how easy he was to talk to."
Online their relationship moved a lot quicker - they met on New Year's Eve 2016 and were virtual husband and wife by February 2017.
But it was around this time Kelly started to realise she had feelings for Nick.
Kelly said: "Over the course of a couple of days I started opening up to him.
"I said to him at the time 'I'm happily married and I'm not interested in anything funny, but we can be boyfriend and girlfriend on the game'.
"That went on for a couple of days then I confessed I wasn't in love with my husband and I hadn't been for years.
"Nick said I deserved to be happy, I was a bit annoyed with him at first for telling me how my life should be.
"Then I realised I was living this life I was feeling trapped in, which is why I was always on the game.
"I ended my relationship with my husband and he actually admitted he hadn't loved me for years either. It was a very mutual thing."
Kelly said that although she'd already fallen for Nick she was wary she was being catfished, so he sent his Facebook profile and the pair then video chatted so they could see who was behind their online personas.
Kelly said: "We had known each other for about a week and a half before we exchanged real-life pictures, but it felt longer because we were on the game for 20 hours a day.
"Even though I felt this connection, I was being careful.
"I started to panic that maybe I was being catfished, after all I was a 37-year-old disabled mother - hardly a catch.
"But he sent me a picture and I was blown away by it, he was absolutely gorgeous, then he sent me his Facebook but I was still cautious.
"I made him come on video calling and as soon as his face came up on the screen no-one had ever looked at me like that - it was just love.
"My heart was going crazy and I couldn't believe he was who he said he was."
After speaking online for a year, Kelly saved up to fly out to meet Nick.
"On Boxing Day 2017 I bought a plane ticket and flew out to America to spend a week with him," Kelly said.
"Waiting at arrivals, my heart was pounding. When I first got to America, I walked straight past him.
"I was in such a panic - I didn't even see him - then I heard 'hey sweetie'.
"We were so natural it was like we'd never been apart. There was no awkwardness or anything.
"All we did was talk, we didn't do anything naughty, it wasn't about that.
"It sounds so cheesy but it's like we found our missing piece, once we'd spent that week together we knew we wanted to make a go of it."
The pair started talking about the future and during a visit to the UK in 2018 Nick popped the question using a ring that was almost identical to the one his character had used on Second Life.
Kelly and Nick vowed to make it work and set about planning their wedding.
Almost three years to the day they met, Kelly and Nick had their 'fairytale' wedding on a snowy day in Winsconsin.
Nick, who was single when they met and never been married before, said: "I never expected to find love, especially on a game.
"I fell in love with Kelly's personality, warmth of her voice and the idea of her very, very quickly.
"There was such a connection, that is hard to explain. I had already checked out on ever seeing anyone again, it wasn't a possibility in my mind anymore.
"I couldn't see myself with anybody else ever again at that point.
"When we shared photos of each other, she matched perfectly, but when she convinced me to video call her, I was blown away and felt a rush of love for her.
"We were unsure if we could work in the real world so did all we could in-game.
"I now get to spend the rest of my life with this amazing woman and help her, like she has helped me."
Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media
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