Is possible to be in love with two people at the same time?

I like observing people. It is what feeds my thoughts, and consequently, a lot of my writing. Seeing people handle situations in their respective lives gives me a chance to analyze human behavior. By no means do I think that I’m an expert, I’m not even playing in that ballpark. I am not trying to decipher the complexity of being human. But in a way, this constant analysis of vicariously experienced situations gives me a chance to reflect upon my own character and understand myself and my belief-system better.

Not too long ago I made a mention of a friend who is in love with two people, at least that’s what he claims. His situation has always made me wonder if that’s really possible. He’s been in love with two people for a while. Then a time came when he had to choose, and so he did. So now he’s in a committed relationship with one of the two people. But he still thinks about the other person. So the obvious question that comes to mind – who does he really miss when neither of these people are around? As I had written in my earlier post, I don’t think that really matters. He simply misses company and having either one of these people would make him equally content, equally secure.

I have often wondered if he actually loves either one of these people. To me it seems like he loves neither, because none of his feelings are all consuming, like love should be. If he loves his current committed partner, he shouldn’t think about the other person. Having this person to hold and cherish should be enough. It is a choice he made willingly and freely. By contrast, if he loves the other person, he should not be able to have a meaningful relationship with the former. That is not the case either. From what I can tell, he has a wholesome, healthy relationship with his partner. For lack of a better word, I think he might be a coward. He does not want to be the one to end his current relationship, but he also wants to have a safety net in case it ends of its own accord.

I read something as a child, in the book Notes to Myself, “we are not responsible for our feelings but for what we do with them”. Powerful words. Back then I simply highlighted them not knowing that one day they would mean a whole lot more to me than what they did at that young age. In the recent years these words have been like gospel to me. I don’t believe in judging people for their thoughts and emotions. It’s the most natural thing, and something that sets us apart from other living creatures. Animals have emotions too, but they are stimulus based, and go away with the stimulus. My puppy sees me and becomes happy; he is sad when he sees me leave. Then he gets busy playing. I don’t think he can suddenly become dejected in the middle of his playtime thinking about me. But people can. Thoughts can spring up without any triggers or stimuli.

So when I say that my friend shouldn’t have thoughts about the other person, I’m not blaming him for these thoughts. In fact, I partly commend him for how he handles these thoughts – he pushes them aside and focuses on the life in front of him. The other part I reserve because I don’t think ignoring something is the best way to deal with it. But let’s shelve that for later. More importantly, I see thoughts like these as a sign of some underlying, deep-seated issue that’s begging to be addressed. Do these thoughts mean that there’s something missing in his current relationship? Perhaps.

The thing with this friend is that he is extremely afraid of being alone. It’s not something he has said to me but it’s something I have come to observe in him. He becomes a different person when he is alone. I think that like most people, he also believed that if he did not have a steady relationship by the time he was 30, he would end up alone for the rest of his life. It reminds me of the post I wrote when I turned 30, and the burdens of 20’s that one shouldn’t carry into their 30’s. This friend is turning 30 this year and I strongly believe that he is entering his 30’s with a wrong relationship simply because he is too terrified of being alone. He settled for the first person he met who he thought could be the one. Then he convinced himself that it was the right thing although I could sense a lot of doubt in him. Not too long after that he met someone else who started seeming better. And now he thinks he loves this other person too. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, probably also out of fear of being left alone by those he hurts. So he continues telling himself that he loves both these people.

To confirm my earlier doubt, he is, in fact, not in love with either of these people. That is not to say that he doesn’t love them. He may very well love them both platonically, but I’m only exploring the romantic love here. He is physically present with his partner but emotionally, he is frequently absent. One day he might find the courage to admit that he made a wrong decision choosing his current relationship out of fear instead of love. He might do himself and his partner the favor of being honest, and might walk out (knowing him, he’d hope that his partner walks out on him instead). He might find some more courage to explore life on his own until he truly meets “the one and ONLY”. Or after being honest, he and his partner may decide to give things a try, starting anew with open communication this time.

What about the other person? In a way the other person is a casualty of his battle with his fears, if the fears win that is. In another way, this person may be the one who finally helps my friend face the reality and defeat his fears. His thoughts about this other person, that he mistakes for love, are no more than an escape and a sign that something needs to be fixed in his current relationship, and life in general. He would never actually be with this other person because his thoughts lack the power to move him. As much as he thinks about this other person, he would never find it convenient to openly, and unabashedly, admit that that is the person he loves, which is the exact opposite of what love is. And thereby any claims that these thoughts may have of being love stand self-destructed.

I maintain what I’ve always said about love and being in love. Love is a powerful emotion that can overpower everything. Being in love is about togetherness. Staying within the bounds of what’s normal, no one can want to be with more than one person at a time. You only want to hold one person’s hand, only want one person to kiss, only want to fall sleep and wake up next to one person. In my friend’s case, this ONE unique person is as yet nameless and faceless; all he has are options, one better than the other depending on the circumstances on any given day, and he can do the above things with either one of them, or anyone else for that matter should a suitable option present itself.