Can You Be In Love With More Than One Person At The Same Time?

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist By John Kim, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
John Kim, LMFT, is an author, speaker, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who goes by the moniker The Angry Therapist.

This tends to be a controversial question. There are valid points on each side. Here’s my stab.

Many people mistake intensity, infatuation, and lust for love. They think they love someone, but they’re actually loving the intensity of the relationship.

For example, if you compare every love to your "first love," you may feel it doesn’t match up. That experience, regardless of whether or not it was healthy, was extremely powerful.

But maybe it was just the most intense due to its being the first major imprint on your heart? Maybe it was the first time you lost yourself in someone? Maybe you experienced a sticky codependent relationship with no boundaries. (A strong bond produced can feel like love when it’s actually dependency.)

Some mistake infatuation, a short-lived passion, for love. Remember that magical summer crush on the kid at camp? Or the yoga retreat when you met “the perfect man”? Or when you worked on that campaign, project, movie, etc?

With infatuation, we fill in a lot of blanks. We fall in love with ideas rather than the actual person. Although this is a form of truthful attraction, it’s not love. It’s the overlapping of a matching purpose. A slanted guesstimate. Fantasy. And depending upon where you’re at in your life and how much you want love or a relationship, it can feel like you won the lottery.

Lust is sexual desire. It’s a natural craving like hunger or sleep that you can adjust, manage, and aim. If you can’t, then healthy love will be difficult to build. I say “build” because love is ultimately about the choice and ability to build something with someone.

In order to build that kind of intimacy, the commitment factor needs to be there. One can argue that they can commit to two people or more people at once. But I believe the kind of commitment it takes to hit high notes in love, to build the kind of trust that’s life weathering, requires all of you.

Technically you can love more than one. But you'll lose potency. You’ll be building on sand instead of soil. And the love you can give and receive will be lukewarm at best.

So the question then becomes: Is that true love?

My definition of love is truth, commitment, and all-or-nothing. And since love is an action, not just space you carry in your heart, there’s not enough time in the day to romantically love many. I say, if you’re going to love, love one. And love hard.

PS: this is my actual bedroom photo. No joke.

John Kim, LMFT
John Kim, LMFT
John Kim, LMFT, is an author, speaker, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who goes by the...
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John Kim, LMFT
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