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Thread: Is it possible to (romantically) love 2 different persons?

  1. #1 Is it possible to (romantically) love 2 different persons? 
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    Hi all, I'm new to this forum and hope this question is not too loosely defined, given this is a science forum.

    I would like to know people's opinions on whether it is possible to romantically love two different persons at the same time? Or is romantic love automatically exclusive? In other words, is it possible to be in a relationship, and be in love with someone else, while still loving the person you are in a relationship with? Or would you say the opposite is the case, i.e. the incident of falling in love with a second person always implies that I must have fallen out of love with the first?

    I want t compare like-for-like. I don't mean physical attraction for one and more fundamental love for the other, but fundamental love for both (which includes physical/sexual attraction). Thouhts?


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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    I think it is most certainly possible, yes. When we have children, we love them in different ways, but the intensity of that love is often the same, even equivalent. With our parents, very similar. We may love them in slightly different ways and for different reasons, but our love for both is generally quite similar.

    Same in romantic love. We have the capacity to love people in different ways, and the fact that we love one person does not automatically mean that our ability to also love other humans is somehow switched off. The fact that you have feelings (or love) for one does not necessitate that you do not love the other, but that is definitely how it can be perceived.

    It can be very difficult to figure out what to do in such situations, and how to move forward without hurting either, and worse without losing both, but in terms of "is this possible? yes/no?" the answer IMO is most certainly yes.


    It's all a chemical response. Oxytocin, dopamine, etc... and most certainly that flow of chemicals... chemicals which cause your heartrate to change, your pupils to dilate, and your feeling of connection and bonding with other humans to grow... can be initiated by more than one person. It's just often difficult socially due to our monogamous culture and our learned archetype for relationships.


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    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    I would guess that the prevalence of polygamy in various cultures and across the ages is evidence that we do have such a capacity.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  5. #4  
    Time Lord
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    It works if one is "of two minds". For example if you ask my son in english what his favourite food is, he'll say macaroni & cheese; while in japanese he'll say ebi tempura.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  6. #5  
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    Thanks, I like all comments!

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I would guess that the prevalence of polygamy in various cultures and across the ages is evidence that we do have such a capacity.
    True, would you think though that the prevalence of polygamy in those cultures is based on romantic love?

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    It's all a chemical response. Oxytocin, dopamine, etc... and most certainly that flow of chemicals... chemicals which cause your heartrate to change, your pupils to dilate, and your feeling of connection and bonding with other humans to grow... can be initiated by more than one person.
    Sounds plausible...and for these triggers to be allowed to be initiated with a second person, would you think that there must be a perception of something fundamental being missing in the relationship with the first person? After all, I would assume there is a certain threshold of connection that has to be surpassed for romantic love to develop. Why would I bring myself into a situation where this threshold may be reached, if I'm completely happy with my relationship? In other words, why would I divert time spent away from my partner and towards a second person, if I'm happy with the first person?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    It works if one is "of two minds". For example if you ask my son in english what his favourite food is, he'll say macaroni & cheese; while in japanese he'll say ebi tempura.
    Ebi Tempura...sounds like something I had in the Sushi place I went today
    No, but I think I know what you mean, and I like it. By "two minds" do you mean two personalities (such as a very intellectual one and a very goofy one), and to the extent that my partner can not satisfy the needs of both/all those personalities, feelings of romantic love can be aroused by a second person who is able to bring this other personality to life? I'm trying to bring the two different languages into this analogy, but I'm struggling. What might they stand for in this context?
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by troubled_soul
    By "two minds" do you mean two personalities (such as a very intellectual one and a very goofy one), and to the extent that my partner can not satisfy the needs of both/all those personalities, feelings of romantic love can be aroused by a second person who is able to bring this other personality to life? I'm trying to bring the two different languages into this analogy, but I'm struggling. What might they stand for in this context?
    Yeah, I meant incompatible modes of thinking, which share the same skull. But you did say "like-for-like" so I'd better give a proper answer...

    I suppose romantic love an offshoot from our mammalian style of parenting. That in turn developed from theory of mind, which many vertibrates have in varying degrees.

    To me, love is having a sort of model (or sim) of the beloved, continuously running in one's mind and parallel to selfish thoughts. This is how (and why) a mother always knows where the baby is, what it's doing, whether it might be hungry or bored or need a diaper change soon, etc. When the real world refuses to corroborate a model (e.g. the baby dies! or maybe the child simply grows up) one has a crisis because one's living sim must die - it's like losing a piece of one's self, because that's what really happens. Actually our sims may grow so enormous that they continue playing in contradiction of evidence - we call that denial.

    Since parents naturally care for multiple children, certainly we're capable of running simultaneous models. On the other hand, it is easier to keep one than many "in mind". Surely it is easier to elaborate theory of mind for one adult partner than for many... Unless one stops at very shallow theories of one's beloveds...
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  8. #7  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by troubled_soul
    for these triggers to be allowed to be initiated with a second person, would you think that there must be a perception of something fundamental being missing in the relationship with the first person?
    No, not at all. There are two pieces here. One - You can have those feelings for anyone, and they do not imply that your relationship with another person is somehow lacking. Two - Most relationships have gaps and some sort of flaws. That's part of what makes them fun... Working through those differences and caring about each other despite the small gaps which exist in that relationship.

    My sense is that what happens is we cognitively decide that we care about a person, and we essentially choose to simply ignore the neurochemical response another person causes in us. That neurochemical response is still there, but how we act on it (or not act on it) is what really matters.


    Quote Originally Posted by troubled_soul
    Why would I bring myself into a situation where this threshold may be reached, if I'm completely happy with my relationship? In other words, why would I divert time spent away from my partner and towards a second person, if I'm happy with the first person?
    That's something you will need to ask yourself. To your credit, though, many humans have evolved a tendency to seek variety in relationships. Monogamy is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history, but it's very much a solid phenomenon now, so you need to look inward, consider that your actions may hurt someone about whom you care very much, or worse... hurt them both, and consequently yourself.

    Also (and this is just my gut feeling here, I have no evidence), I would think you are not "romantically in love" with these others, but just care very much about them and enjoy their company... More likely an issue of infatuation instead of an issue of intimacy... but again, I could very well be wrong.

    Good luck with it all. Maybe in another month you'll have forgotten all about them both and you'll find a new "love." :wink:
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  9. #8  
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    I think no... it's not possible!
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