Reader Question: Torn Between Two Lovers
I’m torn between two people and honestly feel I’m equally attracted to both and that I love both of them the same amount. What should I do?
Some people spend their whole lives looking for “the one,” for Mr. or Ms. Right, that special person they’ll spend the rest of their life with, if all goes well. It’s scary to think that there’s only one person out there who is right for us. What if we don’t find them, or what if they find somebody else first?
Well, be careful what you wish for, so they say, as you may be getting what you want — plus one more. This is not a common problem, but when it does happen, it’s a difficult situation. Duh? No matter what you decide, you open yourself up to “second guessing” later on, wondering for months or years or even the rest of your life whether you made the “right” decision.
That kind of self-doubt and guilt can be crippling. It can even damage the relationship you end up choosing from the two you’ve got. So you’ll want to be careful and take care to make a good decision.
First of all, don’t panic. Don’t do anything crazy. Take your time and listen to your heart.
I’m not sure there’s a “right” and a “wrong” choice if you truly love two people equally. Whatever choice you make, you will have good times and bad times in your life together, happy times and sad times, because that’s true of every relationship. Whichever person you choose, your feelings about each other may change over time. That is out of your control.
Consider Taking a Break
One way to get some clarity about your feelings is to take a break from both people, from both relationships, for a while. This could be a couple weeks or even a couple months, depending on how serious you are.
During this time, you will have to pay attention to your feelings about both people. You may notice that you miss one of them more than the other, or differently than the other. Give yourself the gift of time to figure that out. Tell them both what you’re doing, that you need some alone time to figure things out, and then enforce a quiet period of no contact, or at most minimal contact with them.
It’s not easy to hear what your heart is telling you if you’re still mixed up in both relationships at once, being pulled in all directions. Give yourself the gift of some time to focus on yourself.
Review the Positives and Negatives
Another idea is to intellectualize your choice to a certain extent, but that may not be enough in the end to give you the answer you need. What you may want to do is to write about both your relationships.
Make lists or just scribble ideas on bits of paper, writing down the positive and negative aspects of both people. You’ll need to do this privately, and be sure to destroy all the papers afterwards, so nobody ever finds them and gets hurt by them.
Be honest about each person. If you’ve been involved with them long enough to feel that you are in love with them both, then you must know them pretty well. You have a good idea about their positive and their negative qualities.
Ask yourself about their health, for example – are they healthy and fit, do they eat well and take care of themselves? Do they overeat, smoke, drink too much, do drugs? A relationship with a healthy, lively person who takes good care of themselves is generally much easier than with someone who is likely to have a lot of serious health problems down the road.
Also, a partnership and marriage with a person who eats well and gets exercise is likely to make you healthier, too, as you will eat meals together and perhaps join a gym together. You’ll be exposed to healthy habits.
Drugs, alcohol abuse, and smoking aren’t automatically deal breakers when it comes to relationships – after all, many of us fall in love with deeply flawed, imperfect people – but they are important to consider. Addictive or destructive behavior that isn’t acknowledged or treated will only grow worse over time. Addiction is like athlete’s foot — the more a person scratches it, the worse it gets.
Ask yourself about their respective temperaments, too. Are they ambitious about their careers? Perhaps this isn’t important to you, as you don’t care how much money someone makes so long as you love each other. Good for you.
But you will need some money to live on, and it’s a good sign if your partner has some ambition and a career path. Do they have a bad temper? Or are they emotionally flat, revealing few of their feelings?
Who Brings Out the Best in You?
How does each person affect your personality? Do they bring out the best in you? Or do they aggravate the negative factors in your character? This is also something that might tip the scales in favor of one person or the other.
But in the end, no amount of list-making and rationalization is going to completely solve your problem. You will have to choose one person or the other in order to have any sort of serious, deeper relationship.
Keep seeing two people and you’ll limit your relationships to shallow ones, and you may in the end find yourself losing both of these wonderful people because you wouldn’t, or couldn’t, commit to one of them.
Your Heart Chooses
The real choice will have to be based on your heart, on your “gut feeling” about each person. It’s important to know how each of them feels about you, too, not just how you feel about them. Are they interested in a serious, long-term relationship with you? Are you interested in a serious, long-term relationship with them? It can take a lot of hard work by both of you to figure this out.
A brave thing to do would be to talk frankly and honestly with each of them about how you feel. Does each of them know about your relationship with the other person? Or are both your love affairs compartmentalized and secret from each other? A frank conversation about your dilemma may not be an attractive idea to you, as you may fear hurting both of them and driving them away from you. But at some point you will have to make a choice.
To protect yourself from long-term guilt over your choice, you will have to accept that both choices will have positive and negative consequences, and just decide as best you can. Give yourself permission to be an imperfect person and to make an imperfect choice.
If you truly love them equally, you will be OK whichever choice you make. You will have to let the other person go completely, though, and that will not always be easy. Whatever you do, don’t play the two people off against each other – someone is likely to get badly hurt that way.
Be honest and clear with yourself, and then be honest and clear with both of them. If you love them, you owe them that much.
Click here to learn how to break up with someone if you’re ready to make a choice and move into a more viable long-term romantic situation.
Wishing you the best of luck!