Have you loved more than one person at the same time?
I suppose I should make a distinction between “in love” and “loving,” but is that necessary, really, if the net effect is the same?
When you’re involved with multiple people, you’ve got double the pleasure. Maybe. You certainly have double the trouble. And then some.
However deeply felt (and sincere) the emotions, our culture disapproves of loving more than one person at a time. Or at the very least, acting on it in the open. There’s no question it’s complicated. And there are the issues of fairness, and morality. But what about hypocrisy? ‘
What do we accept?
Serial monogamy? No problem. “A little on the side?” Likewise. Simultaneous sexual partners or love interests, particularly if you’re single? We seem to admire that in men; less so in women. But again – it’s either praised, or tolerated.
Simultaneous spouses? That’s a vocal – and legal – no.
So what do you do with feelings for more than one lover? And it’s much more than great sex? Perhaps there are visions of a future, or you’re already committed to one of the parties. Or both. Now what?
What makes us “fall” anyway?
There are limitless reasons that people bond – sexually or emotionally. There’s the ever elusive “chemistry” that ignites passion, or a foundation of friendship that builds into a full-blown relationship. There are as many tender and torrid tales as there are couples, brimming with collisions of inexplicable exchanges, signals and sparks.
Think back… it’s so good…
Do you remember your first love? Or your latest “great love?” The details that slayed you? Maybe it was the way a curl fell across his forehead, or his steady voice on the phone when you told him you lost your job. Maybe it was the way she rubbed your temples when you had a migraine. Or just a look. A single glance that did you in.
Everything seems new – oh, it’s crazy good!
How do we allow more than one person in, at a time?
If you’re committed and happy with one person, it seems impossible that another could make his or her way into your heart, right? But it happens. All the time. Human beings are complex; so are our needs, and our desires.
What if chance, destiny, or whatever you call it tosses more than one amazing person in your path? What if two people fill your needs in a way that is irresistibly and more fully you? And your attachment to each, genuine and passionate?
Hedging our bets
In a world where connections are easily made, and even more easily abandoned, we hedge our bets. One glimpse at the online dating world and that’s clear. We string along second and third choices in case our “first choice” slips away. We juggle – people and their stories – trying to keep it all straight.
Is it really a big deal? Why not a dizzying dalliance here and another there, and points of comparison? After all, we have friendships with both genders, and more than one at a time. Why not multiple lovers simultaneously, until one “emerges” and takes priority?
When it’s love, not sowing your wild oats
Does loving more than one person mean a life in the shadows? Can it be helped? Is it a matter of passion?
I can’t help but believe it is possible to love more than one adult, intimately. After all, we love more than one child at a time, don’t we? Isn’t it the same principle?
Infidelity and more
Love one person, sleep with another… it happens all the time.
Intimacy is trickier. There’s a profound connection; families and friends come into play. Lives are intertwined.
At the far end of the spectrum, multiple committed relationships may lead to bigamy. More often than not, it’s a matter of infidelity, without venturing into legalities. And then what?
It’s the sort of thing films delight in
Remember Same Time Next Year? Lovers meet annually over the course of decades. No one’s the wiser, and no one gets hurt. For many, long-term lovers and mistresses are part of the marital landscape, though meetings are far more frequent than an occasional tryst.
Consider Two Lovers, with Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow, in which we see love grow in divergent directions for the main character.
One woman is more exciting (and unreliable), while the other is “a wiser choice.” Both strike at the protagonist’s heart.
Before either of these films came 1953’s The Bigamist – perhaps one of the more compelling, and enduring depictions of loving times two.
When love won’t let go
I know men who have loved more than one woman at once. Likewise, the so-called more delicate sex.
Is there always one choice that makes more sense as in Two Lovers?
Some may consider dual loyalties an act of cowardice, of ego and selfishness, putting one’s own needs before the feelings of the others involved. But what if it isn’t? Is the real bad behavior in breaking up a family rather than loving more than one person at a time?
I know what it is to care, deeply – even briefly – about more than one man. I’ve watched friends agonize over picking their “permanent” partner, because bigamy isn’t a viable option. And loving two people includes not wanting to hurt either of them.
As for long-term infidelity, it’s the (obvious) answer for many. As a lifestyle, it’s filled with drawbacks, for all parties concerned. Birthdays and holidays that can’t be shared. No way to “be there” when the one you love is ill.
And of course, the secrets that carefully separate one world from the other.
So where do you go if you’re the one who loves two, or one of the two who are loved? Just leave it to time and life to sort out, or make a difficult decision?