Sure, you might think that if you were truly in love with someone, you wouldn't be able to have feelings for someone else. But sometimes this can actually happen — and it can be emotionally draining, as your heart gets pulled in two directions.
Though, it is worth noting the difference between lust and love, as lust might represent more physical, sexual chemistry with a partner, and it's likely to be a more immediate, short-term affair. (Here's a guide to knowing if your love is real.) And if you're caught up in this idea of "lust" when in love with someone else, you risk losing that stability and deep-rooted intimacy for a fling that's disguised as commitment.
But let's assume that you are in fact in love with two people at the same time. What should you do about it? Luckily, Shlomo Zalman Bregman, a rabbi, matchmaker, and relationship expert in NYC, shares his advice on how to navigate your heart's desires.
1. Slow Down
"The feeling of being in love makes everything seem to feel urgent, quick-moving, and amplified. But if you're going to have to make a super tough decision here, and perhaps say goodbye to someone you feel you love — for their sake and yours, and to help ensure you make a wise decision — you really need to slow things down," he says.
It's time to pump the brakes and try to take control over the overwhelming, intoxicating emotion you feel. Additionally, the act of trying to slow things down with the people you love will have some perks: it'll help you parse out any residual confusion you may be experiencing between the emotions of lust and love, he explains.
2. Pick One
Sure, this might be tough, as you'll want to spend as much time with these two people as possible, but you can't keep both around. Sad but true — you can't have it all here (unless that's something you all agree upon!).
"Without a doubt, maintaining a true, loving relationship requires a heavy investment of time, heart, money, and attention, and these things are finite. And even if the people you love right now are happy with you, do realize that relationships are not frozen in stone, and they may need 'more' or 'differently' from you in the future," he says. So even if it's fine being with two people right now, that can easily change.
And it's almost impossible to be open with both of the people you're in love with about your polyamorous feelings, so even if one of your SOs says they're "cool" with you being in love with other people at the same time, the odds are that jealousy will appear in the relationship.
3. Compare Them
Sounds mean and unfair, but you have to do it if you're making such an important decision.
"See if you can figure out what Person #2 is doing for you that Person #1 is not. What is the latest person you're in love with giving you that you're not receiving elsewhere? This is a vital step, because it's totally possible that with open communication, Person #1 can fix it/fill that void/meet your needs," he says. (Here are a few things that make for a great partner, FYI.)
And take timeline into account. Has relationship #2 been shorter? "You should also realize that Person #2 may seem more exciting than Person #1 right now, not necessarily because they are truly better for you or more compatible with you, but simply because of the different stages you are at in a relationship. It's well known that the initial stages are generally more thrilling and passionate," he adds.
Lastly, think about what you really want. "Where is your life going? Where do you want it to go? Ask yourself honestly how these two people you're in love with fit into where you want to be in six, 18, 99, etc. months from now," he says. By looking at this tough decision from the vantage point of time, you'll gain a crucial perspective here.
4. Say Goodbye to One
And once you've made your decision, lose the other's contact immediately, he says. You'll be tempted to revisit that relationship if the door is left even a small crack open. Shut it — forever. (And, here's what can happen if you do stay in touch with your ex.)