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A Big Question For Today: Can You Be In Love With Two People At Once?

chivalryFirst of all, can you define love?

Can you define “being in love?”

If so, can you be in love with two people at once? Two people at the same time, in the same way?

I find this question absolutely fascinating. When I was in High School my ideas about romance would have aligned with Don Quixote’s and many of the characters from The Canterbury Tales.

This was chivalric love, the notion that there was one person for everyone. You were supposed to know who that was, and then sit around and pine and year and long for them. And if you couldn’t have them, which was often the case, it was like being stricken with a malady, a wasting disease. You’d stare at the maiden in the window and become a pale sack of skin and bones that would stretch against your agonized heart.

I liked the idea that the experience was supposed to be intense, incomparable to anything else (although writers certainly try).

Then I met the woman I would marry and it was exactly the way it was supposed to be, except neither one of us had to pine or long or yearn for long. We knew what we wanted, we got married, and we’re now coming up on 10 years.

I differ these days from the chivalric ideas about love in that I don’t believe there is only one person for each of us in the sense that “I’m only capable of being in love with one person.” Do I love my wife more than anyone else? Absolutely, except for my son, but if you’re a parent you know that your feelings for your kids are “not even playing the same sport,” to paraphrase Jewels’ foot massage lecture from Pulp Fiction.

I could absolutely be in love with two people at once, given what I understand about love and how I define it. She might completely disagree. (if she ever sees it, maybe this whole post is a test to see if she’s reading the blog as she claims to).

But I don’t want to be, so I’m not on the prowl. I’m beyond happy with what I have, so I don’t have much interest in testing out my theory.

So for you, what do you think? According to your conceptions about love, romance, and partnerships, could you love two people in the same way, at the same time?

Josh

And now that you’re feeling romantic, you might enjoy this post about the best romance novels.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • kathy casey April 6, 2011, 6:17 pm

    I have been trying to council my daughter on this very subject during the last month or so. She lost the love of her life to cancer, at the age of 20, less than a year ago. It has been a very long and difficult journey, to say the least. There was over a year of fighting the disease and dealing with one disappointment after the other and now we’re coming up on a year since his passing. The problem is…life does move on. My daughter is beautiful, inside and out. She’s charming, funny, and smart. She’s also a little traumatized. But she has re-acquainted with a friend she knew before all of the drama and their friendship has begun to blossom into a truly sweet romance. BUT…. she’s still in love with the other young man – the one who is not coming back. She’s trying desperately to forge ahead with this new relationship…but the love she still has (and will always have) for this young man, and the guilt she feels from dating someone new, has made it very difficult to move forward. She’s also very worried about what other people will think of her and her pursuit of happiness with another.
    So…. can you love two people at once?? The short answer is: yes.
    —-The long version- much more difficult.

  • DC5 April 6, 2011, 8:28 pm

    I cannot divide my emotions like that. One of the worst mistakes I ever made was attempting to love two women at the same time. I should have chosen one and let the other go in the proper way. But I didn’t, and I paid a heavy price for my actions. I suffered first because of guilt associated with my actions, and second with the most severe depression I’ve ever encountered.

    I would suggest keeping life simple by finding one, loving one, and staying with the one (and only one) you love above all others.

  • Heather April 7, 2011, 10:33 am

    Hmmmmmm. . . depends on how you’ve been socialized, I reckon. I think some people are more in love with the IDEA of being IN LOVE than actually, actively LOVING SOMEONE. As far as chivalric love goes–what a load of crap. But then, to me, nothing says “I care, love, and adore you” like a nice, clean bathroom. Kettlebells also say, “I care, love and adore you, please take care of yourself and fling these round the back yard for your amusement.” Being in love with 2 people at once. Wow. . . sometimes just being in love with one person can be exhausting. But maybe that’s just me.

  • page April 8, 2011, 11:54 pm

    Heinlein defined love as “the subjective state during which the happiness of another is a crucial ingredient in your own.”

    So, yeah, I think you can. Is it a smart idea? Probably not.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 9, 2011, 8:39 am

      This is why I love this blog. Most of us start our quotes by referencing an author we loved.

  • E April 10, 2011, 12:09 pm

    I am in the middle of that situation only I am one of the two people thats caught in the triangle.My best friend and I truly care about each other, and we have dated in the past and he still says he loves me. But he has been dating someone for 2 months and apparently they are in love too. Confusing…

  • AR December 14, 2011, 2:20 pm

    I think that, as others have mentioned, perhaps its possible. But I also think that its illogical. Although there are really no true “logistics” in love, I think that when you’re really, truly in love with someONE….then romantically, that person is the only person that matters to you. You fall in love with them because they fulfill you and greatly satisfy you…you love the way you feel when you are with them, you love who you are when you’re with them….I could go on for days. So in my opinion, if I am in love with “Bob”…I can not logically also be in love with “Jack” because Bob fulfills me in such a way that I don’t need to have a Jack. I I can’t be happy with Bob without thinking of, wanting, “needing”, giving up Jack, then am I really in love with Bob to begin with? Am I more in love with Jack? Am I just narcissistic and truly in love with neither, but rather in need of some self reflection about why I’m in love w/ 2 people? Something to think about. But my answer, in essence, is no.