The Ethics of Love: Can You Be in Love With Two People at the Same Time?

The Ethics of Love: Can You Be in Love With Two People at the Same Time?

Given that we are able to love our friends, family and significant other simultaneously, it is of course possible! The answer simply lies in the way in which we define love and what ideals we hold for love itself. In certain cases, relationship therapy might be required to help you overcome these doubts. In this post, we’re going to be discussing exactly that! We’ll be diving into the different kinds of love, their implications, perspectives, and how to decide when you’re in love with two people

The Nature of Love: Examining Different Types of Love and Their Possibilities

What we need to understand about love, especially in this context, is that it can be defined differently by everyone. For some, love might mean physical intimacy, for others it might mean a deep sense of trust and reliance. This personal definition can differ in a number of ways however, at its core, love can be understood as a deep affection towards someone. A broad distinction can be made between platonic love, romantic love and familial love [1] [2]

Platonic love

Platonic love is another word for friend love, which is a different kind of love from what you may feel with your romantic partner. This kind of love typically means that you care about this person, you are emotionally invested in them but do not (usually) have any sexual or romantic feelings towards them. In regards to the topic at hand, with this kind of love, we’d say you can definitely love more than one person at a time. Platonic love has no limits! We can love our friends at work, our long-term friends from high school, and any new friends we have made along the way. 

Romantic love

Being in love can be described as having strong feelings for someone, involving passion, intimacy and devotion. When experiencing romantic love, it’s likely that you think about them often or envision a potential future with them. Usually, a strong physical, emotional and sexual attraction is present. Ideally, romantic love can develop into a long-lasting bond in which your partner is both a best friend and a lover.

Familial love 

Familial love is the kind of love you experience for your family members – your mom, dad, your siblings or cousins. This kind of love does not involve romantic feelings but can feel different to the love you experience with friends. Familial love is often comfortable, safe and relaxed. This may be due to a sense of trust that comes with blood relation. Because familial love is usually the first kind of love that we experience, it can shape the trajectory of how we give out and receive love in the future. 

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The Challenges of Loving Two People: Understanding the Emotional, Psychological, and Practical Considerations

Loving two people at the same time can come with its own unique set of challenges. It can take a great deal of organisation, communication and time management in order to really make it work. Unlike monogamous relationships, which are usually self-explanatory in regard to expectations. Loving more than one person, however, requires much more time and energy. More specifically, you’ll need to continuously communicate, clearly define your expectations, reach agreements with each other, and remain flexible to allow change. Although it might seem simple, there are a number of different challenges that arise when you’re in love with 2 people. Here are a few that you might encounter [3]

Bad communication 

When engaging in a relationship with more than one person, it is incredibly important to maintain clear, recurring communication about each other’s feelings and expectations. When there is a lack of clarity, this can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, disappointment and emotional or physical withdrawal. Perhaps prior agreements are broken, or boundaries are crossed. After some time, it is likely that feelings of trust and security will wither away, having a detrimental effect on your relationship.  

Example of bad communication: picture Alice, who is in a relationship with both Bob and Charlie. She struggles with balancing communication about her schedule, which leads to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Time management 

Spending quality time with your partner is a very important part of maintaining a strong relationship. Often, when in a relationship with more than one person, poor time management can lead to relationship problems. Promises regarding time spent together can be broken when time is not managed properly. It is important to keep in mind that intentional, meaningful time with your partner(s) is essential to maintain the bond you share with them. It is of course expected that there will be times when unpredictable situations arise. When this happens, it is essential that you communicate with your partner about how to move forward and readjust expectations and agreements. 

Example of issues with time management: consider David who loves Emily and Lily. He fails to allocate quality time equally, leading to resentment.


Jealousy is another emotional and psychological challenge that arises in polyamorous relationships. It usually arises when another person joins the relationship and is common when loving 2 people. The threat felt by the person is usually associated with receiving less time, attention or energy from their partner as a result of a new person joining the relationship. They might worry that they are not good enough or will be replaced by someone else. These psychological challenges can be addressed by acknowledging the inner conflict, working on one’s self-esteem, and overcoming feelings of inadequacy. This can be done through self-reflection, or in more difficult cases by reaching out to a relationship therapist

Example of jealousy: think about Sam’s predicament. He loves both Jessica and Olivia, but the introduction of Olivia into his and Jessica’s relationship sparks jealousy.

The Challenges of Loving Two People
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Making a Choice: How to Decide Between Two People You Love

Take, for example, John’s predicament. He’s deeply in love with Mary, his girlfriend of three years, but also finds himself falling for his new colleague, Emma. Torn between his long-standing relationship with Mary and his newfound emotions for Emma, John begins by introspecting and aligning his goals with each relationship.

If you find that you have fallen in love with 2 people, but need to make a choice as to who you want to commit to, here are a few things to consider [4] [5]

Think about your goals 

When establishing a long-term relationship, it is important that your goals, values and ideals align with those of your partner. You might find that the partner who is similar in these ways is the partner you are more compatible with, and is most likely to meet your expectations. 

Communicate openly

Perhaps the most important thing you can do when deciding between 2 people is to clearly communicate with both partners to the best of your ability. If you find that you are leaning towards one partner, express this to them by explaining the nature of your feelings, where they come from, and what this might mean for the future. Although these conversations are difficult, it is important to remain transparent so that everyone involved can manage their expectations. 

Seek professional help

If you find that you are still conflicted and are not sure how to move forward in your relationship you might benefit from therapy. Licenced relationship therapists can serve as an objective third party to discuss your feelings or help you decide on the healthiest course of action. 

Reflect on Lucy’s story. Caught in a complicated love triangle, she sought therapy. With professional intervention, Lucy was able to navigate her complex emotions and relationship dynamics, ultimately finding happiness and peace in her decision.

How to Decide Between Two People You Love
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Seeking Professional Help with Therapy Central

If you begin to notice that despite your best efforts, you are still unsure about how to move forward, or your relationship has begun to affect your well-being, it might be necessary to seek professional help. This is especially true if these issues are beginning to impact your day-to-day life, communication is continuing to deteriorate, or mental health concerns arise. There are several different therapies available to help in dealing with both personal challenges and challenges in your relationship. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help!

At Therapy Central we offer relationship therapy and couples counselling, as well as more focused therapy such as stress counselling and therapy for low self-esteem. This treatment is available in London and everywhere else online. We use evidence-based interventions such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and other approaches to help you manage your relationship problems. 

In seeking professional help, you’ll be able to talk about your experience with professionals who are equipped to provide you with the help you need and support you in regaining control over your life and your relationship.  

Consider contacting one of our qualified therapists today.

You can contact us and request a free 15 min consultation to see whether our help will suit your needs.



[1] – What are the different types of love?. BetterHelp. (n.d.).

[2] – Can the human brain truly love two people at once? what science says. The Knowledge Review. (2021, June 12). 

[3] – The main challenges in polyamorous relationships. Welldoing. (n.d.).

[4] – Emery, L. R. (2016, October 10). How to talk to your partner about feelings for someone else. Bustle.

[5] – I’m in love with two people! what can I do? BetterHelp. (n.d.-a).

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