I am never quite sure whether I can say that I loved my FF or not. I cared about him a lot. I wanted what was best for him (as much as I thought I knew what that was). I had a super case of The Hots for him. I worried about him and wanted his dreams to come true. I wished good for him and cared for him as best as I could. I liked and loved what I knew of him.
But I didn’t really know all of who he was.
And if I didn’t know all of who he was, does that mean I loved him?
I’m not sure.
If I compare my feelings for him with my feelings for my husband the two are vastly different. Completely different ends of the spectrum. Maybe not even on the same measuring tool.
But does that mean ‘love’ only exists in one way?
I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.
(So, still confused about loving him or not.)
I say this because I want you take what I say here with a grain of salt. I might be the expert on the Sex Surge, but I’m certainly not an expert on relationships. And the Sex Surge complicates a lot of what seems ‘normal’ in romantic, long-term relationships (because sometimes, in the Surge, you just want to get down and dirty for 20 minutes, not merge for a lifetime).
But I do offer this as a starting point to say something important: the thing about loving two people is that there is a cost. (Even if we’re not sure we’re in love.)
First and foremost, when we love two people, it makes us question ourselves. Are we weird? Is something wrong with us? Why can’t we just love one person? (And I’m not going to talk about polyamory here, because that’s a conscious choice of relationship style, and I’m not sure what happens when we ‘fall in love’ is a conscious choice. How we behave is a conscious choice, but I’m not sure the falling part is…maybe, maybe not.) It can bring in a lot of doubt about who we are, or who we believed ourselves to be.
Then there’s the doubt about our primary relationship. Whatever cracks may already be present in that relationship may suddenly look very large. Do we love this person who’s been with us so long? Or are they no longer right for us? What does ‘love’ mean with them? Am I being a jerk?
It most certainly takes a toll on the body. Loving two people stresses you the fuck out. Serious. The mental energy- worry, fear, confusion, doubt- travels straight down into your body. So many women I talked to found themselves in the Surge and also suddenly suffering from poor digestion, no sleep, or skin changes.
There is the toll it takes on friendships (who do we tell? who don’t we tell?) and work and outside activities. It strains our relationship with our kids, often times. How many times did I wonder if there was some magic way out? How many times did I get angry at our weird society for being ‘free’ but not really, because women were still herded towards one kind of partnership?
I often used to think of France as some kind of social miracle- you could have affairs and not worry (tell me it’s true!). I used to imagine what it would be like to live in a society where you simply knew (or were brought up to understand => because that’s how anthropology works) that even if you have a primary partner, they may someday, sometimes need companionship beyond yours. And vice versa. It seemed ridiculous and wonderful and painful all at once. Because in America (and other ‘no affair’ countries) loving two people is something we refuse to hear and that also makes it hard.
Even as I have talked to many women, from many lands (like, seriously, the only continents I haven’t heard from about the Sex Surge are South America and Antarctica), there is something similar across all their experiences: there is a price to pay to love two people.
Now, having said that, there are plenty of pioneers who are choosing other ways. I follow several people on Facebook who have stable, loving, sexually expressive partnerships with two or more people. But they all know about each other + all consent to it + they all discuss every bit of it. (This is polyamory done well.) I watch these folks because they are opening up our society so that more and different choices become available to others. (If you want the French benefits, you have to open up your American ideas, ya know? And also, I’m not sure if ‘monogamy’ and ‘polyamory’ are the only two choices on the dial.)
However, until things change, many of us are left with the problem of loving two people and the toll that it takes. There are a thousand ways to decide and move forward, but it has to be good enough for each person (it ain’t always perfect). But there is a cost to loving two people, and it is the price that must be paid for the experience, I think, until we find other ways.
If you’re struggling with this, I see you. I hear you. I understand you. I know what it is to open another room in your heart for someone and have to run between that room and the room that holds your primary relationship. It’s exhilarating and exhausting all at once. And, I suppose, when it comes down to it, it’s worth it. But there is still a cost and that cost can hurt our minds, bodies, and spirits.
In my case, the ‘whatever’ I felt for my FF meant that I disrespected myself and didn’t love myself- and that really began to hurt after a while. Leaving that all behind was tough- took me 5 years- but the result is that I love myself more now than I ever have before (I feel like I could write a book about ‘How to Fall Out of Love Or Whatever’). Sometimes the price of loving two people is too high and we make a decision. But in the mean time, it’s rough.
If you’re dealing with this, take good care of yourself. Hearts are strong and hearts are fragile and you need to take good care of yours as you decide what to do. And if you want to talk- I’m here.