Can you be in love with two people at the same time? asking for a friend

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Just wondering… (Image:

Asking for a Friend is the series where we answer the questions you’re too embarrassed to ask.

Generally speaking, the idea of ​​loving two people at the same time, in the romantic sense, is far-fetched.

After all, it’s generally accepted that you can’t love someone new without hurting the person you loved first, that would surely require emotional cheating, after all, and how could you possibly do that to someone you love?

But time and time again, people find themselves in this situation, caught between two lovers, with genuine feelings for both.

So what gives? Does that mean you don’t really love any of them? Or is it really possible to love more than one person at the same time?

What does psychology say?

The short answer is yes, on a psychological level, you can love more than one person at a time.

After all, love is nothing more than a chemical reaction, a ‘neurochemical euphoria’, and those reactions are not subject to social restrictions or expectations.

“When we fall in love, certain chemicals are released, such as dopamine and oxytocin, that are associated with feelings of pleasure, warmth, and excitement,” explains Dr. Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.

‘There is almost a chemical explosion; they produce that strong feeling of arousal and desire for another person, as well as (potentially) also a desire for sexual intimacy.’

What does society say?

According to Elena, it is rare that we have the space to fall in love with another person if our needs are fully met.

“It’s usually when our needs aren’t met that the psychological space is created for another romantic attachment to develop,” she says.

But is it realistic to assume that you will get all your needs from one person? In a monogamous society, one would expect the answer to be yes (although it is healthy to steer clear of this belief), but the question of whether humans are monogamous by nature or nurture is entirely up for debate.

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Is monogamy a social construction? (Image: Getty Images)

For Dr. Eli Sheff, a sociologist and one of the world’s few academic experts on polyamory, monogamy as we know it is a social construct.

“Monogamy used to mean literally being with only one partner in a lifetime,” she tells

You married a virgin, and if your spouse died before you, you were celibate for the rest of your life, especially if you were a woman.

“That’s not what people mean by monogamy anymore; now, it means being with one person at a time… partly because our life expectancies are so much longer.”

Our definition of monogamy has changed in line with our changing society, meaning it’s more likely to be a social construct than an inherent human quality, and for polyamorous people, it’s certainly possible to love more than one person at a time.

What does it mean to love two people at the same time?

“I think of it as an extension cord, but instead of electricity, plugs provide love,” says Eli.

“Some people have one outlet and they’re at full capacity, some people have two or three and when they’re all full at the same time, they’re completely saturated, and some have an unlimited number of outlets.”

For those in non-monogamous relationships, he adds, loving multiple people is similar to how parents love their children.

‘You can love your child, have another child and still love the first.

“Maybe you love those kids differently: one of them is super sweet and needy, and the other one is very independent and just wants your car keys, and you have a different relationship with both of them, but you don’t love either one less.” . .’

This is something that Poppy, who is currently in a non-monogamous relationship, echoes.

“I don’t think you can quantify how much you love someone or how much you love them,” he says.

‘Just like if you were pursuing one monogamous relationship after another, the way you feel is going to be different with each person.

‘It is not about loving more or less, but about loving in a unique way.’

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Loving more than one partner is similar to loving more than one child (Image: Getty Images)

This brings us back to Elena’s comment about needs: For many people in polyamorous relationships, being able to get different things from different partners is one of the benefits.

Elise*, 25, was in an open relationship when she was younger, except for the caveat that only one of her partners knew about the other.

“I loved them both for very different reasons,” he tells

“Each one brought out a different side of me, but I knew I didn’t love them enough to be with just one of them, either.”

And, on the question of whether you can really love someone if you’re willing to hurt them, Eli says that hurting the people we love is a ‘well-worn human tradition.’

The verdict: Can you be in love with two people at the same time?

While it’s clearly possible, loving two people at once is still taboo, and it’s more important to think about how you act on those feelings.

Cheating, emotionally or physically, is one thing, and attempting to embark on an open consensual relationship is another.

As Elise says, “One thing I wish I had done differently was to actively choose partners who are interested in non-monogamy, because there’s less chance of causing emotional distress.”

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