Our twenties present the first real opportunity to explore romantic relationships as adults. A recent study from Pew Research found that the median age for a first marriage is 28.7 for men, and 26.5 for women. While a very small number of us will marry our high school sweethearts, most of us won’t, so statistically, we’re most likely to meet our future spouse sometime between the ages of 19 and 25.
In her book, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How to Make the Most of Them Now, clinical psychologist Meg Jay writes, “Personality can change more during our 20s than at any other decade in life.” That may seem obvious to you, but if you believe what Jay says, then it’s also easy to believe that not only could you fall in love with more than one person while in your early twenties, it’s possible you’ll fall in love with those two (or more) individuals at the same time. If your personality is evolving, what you’re looking for in a partner will be evolving too, maybe day-to-day.
With that said, can you love more than one person at the same time?
Ultimately, only you know your true feelings, but the notion that you’re in love with more than one person tends to come from a place of confusion regarding your true feelings versus your perceived feelings. It’s all too easy to get swept up in the early, superficial spark. That surface level evaluation of someone can quickly become lust and infatuation, and sometimes those two things get confused with love.
If you find yourself feeling like you’re in love with two people, it might be a good idea to start by asking yourself why you feel that way about each person. You probably love them for different reasons; one fulfills what the other does not, and vice versa. If you are serious about both relationships, sharing your love with more than one person is fine and dandy if you’re planning to pursue polygamy or an open relationship (and if so, this article probably isn’t for you anyway).
However, most people don’t want to feel like they are a part of a patchwork quilt. More important, though, is accepting that you probably don’t love them equally. It’s like the comparison of apples and oranges. The two are simply different from one another, and while you might like both, if you were asked which one you like more, with some thought, you’d probably have an answer.
It is natural to be drawn to other people, and you can always find excitement somewhere, but coming to a conclusion about your true feelings is crucial to moving forward in your relationship because genuinely loving someone means actively choosing to love them every day.
While it’s easy to feel like you’re in love, are you actually willing to volunteer yourself for the ride and wherever it takes you? Are you willing to endure the realization that love is, in addition to the light and fluffy things, work, patience, and sacrifice? Are you willing to pursue falling in love with your partner constantly instead of chasing butterflies when they flutter around that perfectly coiffed head of hair across the bar? Those are the moments when real love takes over and reminds us that committing to someone is a choice.
Musician Lauryn Hill had this to say:
“Love is an incredible thing, and we don’t know love like we should. We always talk about ‘I have unconditional love.’ Unconditional love is…we don’t even know it. Because if a person stops stimulating us, we stop loving them…But that real love, that love that sometimes is difficult…difficult to have. That’s that love.”
It isn’t always easy, but actively choosing love means working to better your relationship, not supplementing the gaps with another romance. Sometimes you have to choose, and if you just can’t choose from the two people in front of you, maybe it’s best to choose to be with yourself.