“I romantically love John and James at the same time!” This is a statement that is bound to raise eyebrows, and get branded as cheating! Nonetheless, there are many people in committed relationships who feel that they are in love with persons other their spouses. To them, the biggest question usually is whether it’s possible to have two lovers who you love equally.
To begin with, according to Aaron Ben–Zeéz, a professor of philosophy and the author of In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims, people who feel that such a phenomenon is impossible often offer a logical contradiction. For instance, he says, you may say: “He cannot really romantically love both me and her at the same time.” However, others see loving two people as having a complimentary romantic engagement! “The love for the second person is seen as being based upon a different set of characteristics and qualities of the second lover, and thus is seen as complementing the set of qualities and characteristics of the first lover,” he adds.
However, the biggest problem with polyamorous romance is emotional dissonance. Apparently, when in such a relationship, your emotions will tend to demand that you prefer one lover over the other. “Emotionally, too, it will be extremely difficult to imagine your lover in the arms of another romantic partner,” says Ben–Zeéz, adding that those who can say they’re in love with two people at the same time will hardly stand being in the shoes of either of their lovers! According to Ken Munyua, a Nairobi-based psychologist, this is common for women. Men on the other hand will tend to have a sense of attachment and commitment to more than one romantic partner, which they’ll define as love. “A man may be able to emotionally commit and attach himself to two women at the same time. However, in most cases, a woman will not be able to do the same. Emotionally, women attach and commit differently than men, and they’ll tend to practice exclusivity more,” he says. Strikingly, men who discreetly practice polyamory will easily tend to act ‘monogamous’ with each of their lovers. “For instance, when a man is with his first lover, he will be able to shut the second lover out and treat the one he is with as if they were the only one. He will repeat the same equation when he meets with his second partner,” adds Munyua.
Interestingly, the perception of infidelity where you love two people will depend on how your first partner views monogamy and polygamy. According to Mark D. White, the author of Manipulation of Choice, if your partner values exclusivity and monogamy, you will be cheating him or her out of an aspect of your relationship that he or she cherishes. “If they don’t value monogamy, you may consider opening up about your second lover,” he says. He adds that, if your relationship is only maintained by kids or finances instead of an emotional connection, you may fall in love with another person without neglecting your partner in any emotional sense. “In such cases, the partner with whom you are committed to is assumed to have relinquished any claim on your affections,” he says. Nonetheless, you should be alive to the possibility of this partner seeking emotional connection elsewhere as well!