The conventional notion of romantic love makes it an exclusive emotion – one that can be felt for only one person at any given moment. However there is no accounting for what the human heart is and is not capable of feeling. So can you really be in love with two different persons at the same time?
As a social being, an individual is the product of many kinds of relationships and as a result, he or she can feel love for a number of people. A person may love a sibling, a close friend, a parent besides a partner. However romantic love is usually restricted to one person. This is the difference between loving and being in love with someone – the former can apply to two or more relationships at any one time while the latter, the romantic kind of love is limited to one. This is because of the very nature of romantic love. You only fall in love with a person who is a friend, soul-mate, lover and a guide – all rolled into one. This person not only seems to answer to every need and emotion within you but even leads you to self-growth and encourages you to be a better person. When you have finally found the love of your life, you feel fulfilled and at peace.
So how does the possibility of being in love with two persons at the same time arise?
The answer perhaps lies in the cold fact that no single human can fulfill all your wants and desires. A human being exists on many levels – the intellectual, physical and emotional to name only the more significant. Only a superhuman and thus fictional personality can have the ability to satisfy all the craving and expectations that are felt by an individual. Say your interests include horse-riding, Italian Renaissance art, Lebanese cuisine and growing your own tomatoes. Can you in all honesty claim to find a partner who will share exactly all these hobbies with you and be rich, intelligent, attractive? Unlikely. Even if you manage to find a guy or girl sharing most of your interests, he/she may not be as attractive or as considerate as you would have liked them to be. It is here that a situation where one can fall in love with more than one person may arise. While you may find emotional warmth and support in one individual, another person may be better able to provide you the sexual excitement you also crave for. And you may even look forward to the stimulating conversations or exciting discussions that a third person is able to offer you. So if you find that two different people can best fulfill your different needs and that both those needs are important for you to lead a wholly satisfying life, perhaps it is possible to be in love with both at the same time.
However what may seem possible in theory may not work out well in real life. One of the most common situations when one can claim to be in love with two persons at the same time is in case of an affair. If it is a purely sexual affair, presumably the third person is there to satisfy your sexual needs while your partner continues to be your soul-mate or marital companion. On the other hand in case of an emotional affair, your companion may be answering to certain emotional needs which have been ignored or rejected by your partner. Whatever the configuration, having an affair imposes on both relationships an additional burden of secrecy, lies, anxiety and insecurity. Eventually you may find these negative emotions changing the dynamics of both relationships with the result that they no longer offer the same love and fulfillment they used to – either separately or together.
Many couples go for open relationships in an attempt to avoid the pitfall of an affair. Such relationships allow either or both partners the freedom to enter into new relationships. Since the secondary relationships are made with the full knowledge and consent of both partners, the usual trust issues attendant on affairs are unlikely to ruin the primary relationship. However more often than not, the secondary relationships are driven by sexual or other specific needs while love or their understanding of it exists only between the core couple.
While the practical problems of being in love with two persons at the same time may render the equation unrealistic in the long run, can the idea exist by itself? Being in love is not always about someone catering to your needs and desires, whether it is the same person who is fulfilling all your wants or different people satisfying different cravings in you. Being in love is as much about giving of yourself, giving of your own accord and giving without expecting anything in return. If this is true, then you can give your heart truly and completely to just one person at a time. In other words, be in love with only one person at any given moment.
Finally, love need not be about an either/or situation at all. It might be possible to be in love with two different people but who says you have to act on it? Say you chance upon your high-school sweetheart at the art gallery. You talk of old times, relive past memories and still feel the embers of the earlier passion glowing in your heart. On the other hand you also have a loving and supportive spouse at home as well as wonderful children you cannot imagine getting hurt. Instead of getting involved with your ex and making a mess of your personal life, you can admit to yourself that the person from the past occupies a very special place in your heart and leave it at that. It does not demean your marriage or your relationship values if you are honest enough to acknowledge that you share something unique with someone from your past even as you recognize the worth of what you possess at present.