Can I be in love with more than 1 person at the same time ?
How can that be ?
There are a few ways to come to that answer.
First, let’s do a quick tally. If you are a fairly normal person, and you haven’t been subject to too much misfortune, it is pretty likely that you will love your partner, if you have one, your mother, your father, each of your brothers and sisters, your grandparents, your children, again, if you have any, some of your close friends … That’s a pretty long list.
But, you say, your love for most of the people I have listed is a different sort of love to the love you might have for your partner. And I would agree with that. Except, when you get down to tin tacks, and applying one of the tests I mention in my section Am I in Love ? (…. xxx….), love is really a question of whether you would be prepared to make significant sacrifices for a person. On that basis, most partners are in love, most parents love their children, and vice versa, and most people love their grandparents, and vice versa, and most siblings will usually love their fellow siblings, although that latter love depends on all sorts of circumstances.
Now you might love all of these people, but it is impossible to love them all in the same way at the same time. For instance, imagine that your partner and your mother need you to be present for something that is equally important to each of them, but that time and logistics mean that you can only be present for one of them. Who do you go to ?
For most people, there is only one answer: you go to your partner. Why ? Although you love your mother very much, your relationship with your partner is the most important ongoing thing in your life, so in this situation your love for your partner has to be your paramount consideration. If the clash of logistics involves your mother and your sister, if you are like most people, you would usually go to your mother.
So, what this shows is that there is a hierarchy in your mind when it comes to dealing with the people you love. But that hierarchal listing is purely a way of enabling you to cope with loving many people at the same time – it does not mean that you can only really love the person at the top of the list.
There is another way to look at how many people you can love at the same time, and this time purely from a partner-love point of view.
Over the course of my life to date I have been in love with roughly 10 potential partners. Only 2 of those relationships ended in marriage. With the rest of the relationships they all ended for a variety of reasons largely having to do with circumstances at the time the relationship ended. I have been fortunate in that none of my relationships ended in acrimony – it was simply a recognition in each case (sometimes mutually, sometimes not) that continuing the relationship at the level we had achieved was not sustainable.
Most of the relationships ended a long time ago (before my first marriage), and I have not seen the other person since. But I still love each of them. Nothing happened in any case that displaced the initial feelings of love that I had for each of them. Of course, were any of the ones that were still alive to come back into my life, being a happily married man I could not demonstrate my love for them in the way that I could in the past, but I would still treat them as someone who was particularly special to me.
A further way to look at this issue is to consider cultures that allow polygamy. For instance there are some significant cultures that allow, in 2021, a husband to have up to 4 wives. I must admit it is quite challenging for someone such as me to try to imagine how such a situation can be made to work, but presumably it requires that any particular point in time the husband has a mental hierarchy in his head that enables to handle the competing claims that must inevitably arise. Presumably the husband would say that he loves all 4 wives equally, but that won’t help when a competing claim arises. To complicate matters, from my reading I believe it is also not unusual for husbands with 4 wives to often also have several mistresses.