Remember youth, innocence, and naivety? When love seemed magical and effortlessly simple… black and white…a fairy tale? Young girls are inundated with expectations of idealistic love…happily ever after…you know, the stuff story books are made of — where apparently, love is an absolute…an unchanging cloud on which to float blissfully above the rest of the world exempt from life’s loveless problems. In the land of the storybook, the cloud is a one-dimensional shape defined by hard, finite lines. However, in reality, clouds are ever-changing and most definitely not one-dimensional. What happens when that cloud dissipates? After all, nothing stays the same, does it? Love, like everything else in our imperfect world, changes…it grows, it consumes, it elates, it diminishes, it shatters, it tolerates, it hurts, it ends, it overcomes…and sometimes…it splits in two. And we find our hearts are occupied by not one, but two loves…a revelation that is anything but easy…anything but happily ever after. To hell with the fairy tale! Is it ever possible to regain control of our heart? If not, how do we accommodate it?
Some feel there is no possible way to love more than one person at a time…perhaps because they simply have yet to come face to face with their own two-timing heart. And perhaps they have, but chose denial as a means of defense. Or, perhaps the idea of being in love with two people is so frightening, so intimidating that it’s just plain easier to refuse it’s possibility. Why deny? Denial is like a vicious dog chasing along behind you…eventually, you’ll tire…when you do, it’ll catch up and bite you in the ass.
While some choose to deny its existence, others struggle to tame it. According to research, romantic love for more than one person is not only possible, but extremely common. Most often, a second love isn’t sought out, but somehow creeps up when we’re not looking. Psychologists say that we may fall in love with two people for subconscious reasons…because they possess two different sets of characteristics…that those characteristics are complimentary to one another, rather than contradictory. For example, one may provide security, unconditional love, devoted partnership, and keep us in touch with our grounded self…while the other may provide sparks, romance, unpredictability, and allow us to experiment with a new unexplored self. It is believed that a main motivator in life is the need to expand ourselves and become more effective. One method for accomplishing this is through relationships. We need to feel like we make a difference…like we have a profound effect on someone or something. Sometimes we find that in a most unexpected place…a second love. Relationship stages are another culprit if and when we find ourselves in love x 2. One could be in the beginning infatuation stage and provide us that new love adrenaline high…which makes us feel attractive and vibrant again. The other may be progressed to a more mature stage and provide us security, rather than an ego boost. It may sound odd, but with complimentary personalities, the two halves make a whole. It may also sound a bit selfish…but a human being is, by nature, a selfish being…like it or not.
Psychologists also argue that our heart is capable of loving more than one parent, more than one child, more than one friend…why not more than one romantic partner? While they claim it IS possible…and common, they also point out that it IS incredibly problematic. And when interviewed, people who claimed to have loved more than one person at a time also owned the fact that if the tables were turned, they weren’t sure they could stand the idea of their beloved in the arms of another. Love is a bitch…no?
Whatever the rhyme or reason, we do sometimes find ourselves in love with more than one person. Control is something we each crave and aspire for. While we may be able to control many things in our lives, the heart is NOT one of them. The heart cannot be controlled…cannot be bartered…cannot be directed. Unlike our brain, it’s not bound by morality, laws, or vows. It is what it is…frightened, vulnerable, susceptible, and exposed…the one hole in our otherwise impenetrable suit of armor. When we do find our heart painfully split down the middle, that split slowly festers and cracks under the pressure of guilt, social expectation, and normality. Eventually, that crack in our heart gives way. Result: full blown heart…break.
For an unmarried person, this terrain is a bit less tricky…easier to navigate. Professionals say in this case, it may be best to let both people go and start anew…advice I find a bit lackadaisical and senseless. But for a married person who’s pledged his life to one person whom he loves, and finds himself loving another simultaneously…it’s a treacherous terrain full of sinkholes, mountain ledges, and quicksand that cannot be navigated by foot, but requires an air rescue…He not only needs to be rescued from the terrain, but also from himself…rescued from the mental torment of caring for two without hurting either. This is a feat many have tried, but few have had success with. It’s one thing to love a person…it’s another thing entirely to devote your life to a person whom you love. Obviously, we can’t control what’s in our heart, but we can control our actions stemming from it. Love is beyond our control…devotion, on the other hand, is a conscious decision to succumb to – and nourish – the love we’ve devoted ourselves to…AND…when need be… with another love…a conscious decision not to.
Love triangles, while new to some, are old hat in the tangled world of life and love. The head and the heart will frequently find themselves at odds with one another, as logic and emotion are eternal enemies. So, someday we may find that our house of love — a.k.a. our heart — has somehow become a duplex in which two loves reside. If this happens, it seems we have two options: we can attempt to evict one, bulldoze the dividing wall, and make more room for the original tenant — OR — we can allow them both to stay with the knowledge that one will squat while the other pays both rents. Bear in mind…the average person won’t support a freeloader for long. If rent continues to rise, our dependable renter will likely pack up and move. Keep it simple, keep it painless, keep it rent-controlled…one heart, one love.
Words of advice from the head. Maybe the heart will take heed.
“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” ~ Robert Frost