Thursday, August 6, 2009

The thing about falling in love with multiple people...

Dear Brooke,
What are your thoughts on polyamory? Not as an institution (as in the Mormon faith, where men have multiple wives) but as a legitimate feeling men and women who are partnered might have toward someone outside of their marriage/partnership. Is it possible to truly love multiple people with equal depth?
--Questioning Quinn.

Dear Quinn,

My thoughts, huh? OK darling, here are my thoughts…

First of all, a little thing about love. Love is a tool we unconsciously and justifiably use to allow undeveloped or underdeveloped parts of ourselves grow to their full capacity. Being in love and having someone in love with us helps us become the whole beings that we deserve and are capable of being… to essentially, find ourselves. Yes, in my opinion, love helps us find ourselves.

Some would disagree with me… they say that you need to find yourself before you find love. That is beautiful indeed, but not always how it goes. You can find yourself before you find love, of course. But human beings are social creatures. We develop based on our relationships with others. Every relationship we have helps us on our personal journey towards growing into our best selves. Loving relationships and all that comes with them, help us to get to know ourselves well enough to fall in love with who we are. Just to be clear, I do think you need to believe and feel you are loveable or worthy of love before you find love. Make sense?

So, that leads me to my understanding of what it means to be in love with more than one person at the same time... I believe it’s possible. But the real question is why? Why does someone risk the relationship they already committed to in order to be with two people at the same time? We aren’t talking about people who are un-happy in their current relationship or situation and cheat and don’t have the guts to speak up and get help, right? We are talking about truly, madly, deeply loving two people at once and feeling confused and torn about it…

The thing about people who fall in love with multiple people at the same time are searching. They are looking for themselves… and on some level, hoping to find that inner self…within others. We all do it in some way. We look for ourselves in so many things-including food, clothes, cars, drugs, alcohol…and other people. Usually, the last place we look to find ourselves is within.

Falling in love with multiple people at once, stretching your heart out, and causing pain to your current partner… that is a deep need to tap into an inner part of oneself that has not yet been developed. People that love multiple people are also looking to be loved by multiple people. They want to prove over and over that they are lovable, that they are important, that they matter. They have so much in their inner world that they are unconsciously looking, seeking, yearning to expand and are willing to put other peoples hearts on the line…it feels that important for them.

Just a side note: sometimes, when a person who does not feel loveable or important on a deep inner level…being loved can feel like love, and hence confusion. Some fall in love with…being loved. Get it? Ok, moving on…

Do I believe in searching for yourself and deliberately making attempts towards wholeness? Yes. Do I think there are better ways than having a relationship outside the one you are committed to or being with someone who is already committed? Um, ya. Hell ya. But, hey, that’s just me. People who fall in love with multiple people at the same time are not bad people. They are searching.

But this isn’t about judging, this is about looking, being curious, wondering… why do people do the things they do? What are all the different destructive ways we attempt to feel loved, to feel heard, to feel seen, to feel fulfilled?

This question is full of possible opinions and commentary and and and… but those, honey, are my thoughts…


send in your questions to SOAPBOXTHERAPY@GMAIL.COM


  1. Hello,

    I've always wondered what it was like to be in a polyamorous relationship, I know there are a lot of therapists who treat this specific population. What I hear from or are asked from most people I talk to is, is it normal? Who's to say what is normal, if multiple people, one person, your dog helps you to grow and find that romantic/interpersonal connection, then why not? I never got serial monogamy anyway, it resonates from biblical scripture, which I totally reject, but we are human who seek naturally social connection with many people.

    I do think people who generally enter multiple partner relationship, for example a partner in LA, a partner here in the bay and a little boy/girl/trans toy on the side, might get into this type of relationship for the inapprpropriate reasons, to fulfill a need for control, fuck around?, be selfish, be giving to many people.

    I have treated a person in a polyamorous relationship and although she was very confident in her lifestyle and comfortable her child took this lifestyle the wrong way and interpreted this acceptance of multiple people in your circle of love as an opportunity to be disrespectful/controlling in a relationship.So definitely communication and a clear/transparent message is important with young ones involved.

    So many angles, I just think if everyone is on the same page and are able to set aside feeling of jealousy and worthlessness can a relationship survive as in a monogamous relationship. As in both polyamorous and monogamous, the word "US" is suffixed, to include a joining of "US" which hopefully translates into a clear and honest relationship.

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  3. I'm not a regular reader or anything but this just caught my eye and I thought I'd leave a comment (sorry to bring up an old post).

    It's really obvious reading this that you're coming at it from a monogamous perspective, which is fine, but that perspective is really limiting your understanding here. You're still assuming that monogamy is everyone's default, that it's the foundation of relationships generally (and that's really not true).

    You've also assumed that at least one partner in any given monogamous relationship *wants* to be monogamous, and the other is wanting polyamory. All I can really say about that is that poly is clearly not appropriate under those circumstances (there's also no rule that says that relationships even have to start under the pretense of being monogamous). Polyamory is for people who *want* to not be monogamous, and who've put thought into this. It's not just a random decision to look for love and acceptance, and it's not based out of a feeling of inadequacy any more than monogamy is.

    It was also a blanket assumption to just throw out that people who are in relationships are searching for an understanding of themselves, and that's not... necessarily true, not by a long shot. It's actually quite necessary for someone to have at least a decent understanding of themselves if they want to try poly, because poly requires a huge amount of emotional and communicational skill that most people within this culture are not equipped with (which isn't to say this always works, just outlining some necessary skills for it *to* work).

    There are a lot of reasons to want to love someone outside of the regular confines of socially accepted relationships. More than I can list. What I will say is that no one tends to scrutinize people's intentions when they have multiple close friends, and yet they do when they have multiple romantic partners, and I find that quite strange.