Often, I received the question from distraught and conflicted couples, questioning whether or not it is possible to love (romantically, intimately) more than one person. Is it truly possible to love two different people in the same way? Is the balance of love truly equal or is there an imbalance? Is it possible to give both women or both men the same measure of love, or does one person receive what is left over from the other? For this discussion we are talking about being in love or falling in love with another person, which I think most people would consider to represent emotional infidelity (or, at least, is a good sign of it).
Most people adamantly deny that one can truly and fully love more than one person at a time. This belief is based upon the thinking that love is monogamous, it is a devotion of love, commitment, heart, and bonding soul to one person, hence the term soul mates. Monogamy is one of the essential features of true love, implying that polyamory is a contradiction in terms. By viewing love and soulmates as a totality one can never can never love a second person without taking something away from the first. As with children I question the possibility of loving more than one person in the same way. Although, measurably we love our children with the same fierce intensity, we love them differently because they are different people, i.e., one maybe more independent, while the other is more dependent and requires additional assistance and guidance.
You can argue by its very nature, loving someone includes promising your affection, time, commitment, exclusively, so the other person can reciprocate with confidence. But this assumes that both persons desire monogamy, which begs the question; naturally, monogamy-oriented people will desire monogamous relationships, but this doesn’t explain the desire for monogamy itself. But if you’re in a relationship with someone that does expect nor desires monogamy and exclusivity, then loving somebody else at the same time does represent a problem, or does it? The most obvious and significant problem suggests that you may be devoting resources to the other person – especially time – that your committed partner expects from you. Although, at times we may be certain that we can juggle and or engage in a relationship with more than one person equally without neglecting the needs of one or both partners.
Bethany & Eric
Eric & Bethany had been in a 3-year relationship when Eric began to feel the relationship no longer held any excitement. By all accounts the relationship was going well, the two complimented each other professionally, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
For the past 2 years the two shared a home and their lives together. During an evening out the guys, Eric spies an attractive woman staring at him from the opposite end of the bar. The two strike up a conversation and discover they have many things in common. Eric began to talk and text Leah (the woman from the bar) multiple times each day. Although, he does not have as much in common with Leah as he does with Bethany, the chemistry is undeniable. Eric insists he loves Bethany with “all his heart”, but he is conflicted, he now feels he loves Leah as well.
Eric and Leah quickly begin a sexual relationship, he “discovers” the excitement he he has been missing in his relationship with Bethany. Bethany has no knowledge of Eric’s relationship with another woman buy Leah knows about Bethany. Both women appear to be demanding more and more of Eric’s time, Bethany sensing Eric may not be as committed to her as he once was, and Leah no longer willing to share Eric’s love and attention with another woman. Eric feels unable to choose between the two woman, each represents some of the things he insists he cannot live without, he does not want to break either woman’s heart.
Can a broken heart break evenly? Can Eric truly be “in love” with both women? Is it possible he could be in love with one and love the other? Or could he just love them both without being in love with either?