It is Impossible to Only Love One Person
At some point in high school, I hatched the hare-brained notion that if I wanted to be a faithful boyfriend and husband, I had to condition myself to cut my emotions to other girls once I was in a relationship.
Essentially, I wanted to love one person.
This stemmed from the boys and men in my life that couldn’t keep it in their pants and hurt the girls and women I cared about. But it also stemmed from the religious notion that mankind is inherently sinful, so I was trying to reprogram myself out of it.
Did it work? Yes and no.
I never cheated, but I don’t know if that was due to any “reprogramming” on my part. However, in high school I found myself in an open relationship but I made an emotional connection with someone else.
For me, this was emotional cheating. I hadn’t heard of the term before but it was clear that I was doing something wrong because my actual relationship was under threat from this tidal wave of emotion.
Years later, I had a dream that I was in a back of a taxi with a girl I was very attracted to. I was still in a relationship with the same girl from high school (but we were in a “closed” relationship at this time).
She didn’t see anything in it but asked me if I wanted to be with her. I told her no because as attractive as that other girl was, I had almost no connection to her.
Again, it seemed like the reprogramming was working, but obviously not well enough because I didn’t want to be having dreams about other girls.
Eventually, we broke up. But in the last five years, I’ve made a decent amount of emotional connections with new women and it made me wonder, “How am I going to really let go of these women when I’m finally in a relationship again?”
I figured I would rely on my reprogramming which I completely forgot about, but then I started to think about just that — the reprogramming. Why had I done it? What was the point?
I laid out everything above but I kept coming back to the question of why I had done it. The deeper answer went beyond never wanting to cheat. It was more than just trying to be a good partner.
As it turned out, I never wanted to let that girl go. I never wanted to let go of loving someone. And so, I never did.
There were other people to love. There were some deep connections made. But all of those connections were dead-ends that could never graduate into a committed relationship.
Come to think of it, none of those girls were emotionally (and for some, physically) ready to have a romantic relationship. Neither was I.
It certainly seemed like I was ready. I was attracted to new people. I could see the virtues in them that my ex lacked. I loved them, but that could never work due to my teenage reprogramming of loving only one person.
I realized I was wrong to try to only love one person but I didn’t want to give it up. That’s why change is so hard. You know what makes sense but because you’re accustomed to a certain way of being, the sensible, healthy options look like threats to your happiness, even though you’re not necessarily happy.
Nevertheless, the truth is that no one can only love one person. That’s why jealous love can never work. If a jealous person really got the love they wanted, it would be a stifling, suffocating, codependent and clingy experience.
Furthermore, if you love someone and then met someone with the same traits, how would you not love the other person? It would be impossible not to.
Love was never meant to be an exclusive thing. Sex, on the other hand, is debatable. If you decide to have sex with only one person, fair enough. Hold yourself accountable and ensure that you’re doing it because that’s what you want and not because you’re afraid to lose someone’s love or trying to fulfill society’s expectation of chastity.
But you will have strong feelings for many people in your lifetime. That’s a good thing and totally natural. It’s just like having many friends. You don’t love just one of them and ignore the others. You love them all.
With these realizations, I decided to consciously let her go. It was like she was sinking to the bottom of the sea, then the water went still.
Eventually, some bubbles started to come up and she emerged out of the water. At first, I was confused, but then it hit me.
I had to let go of my attachment to her because I loved her jealously. If she was the only one for me, I had to be the only one for her.
But in letting her go and in realizing that I should love whoever I love, it meant that it was okay to love her. I just had to accept that our love would be at a distance from now on. I also had to accept that how I loved her was wrong and to love her and all others in the right way.
My love towards others, at its core, has to be about freedom. The other person is free to be who they are because that’s who they are and I shouldn’t try and change or hoard the work of art in front of me.
Ultimately, this boils down to authenticity. If I really had a difficulty being faithful, I had to let that truth come out. Because the only way to change anything is to first acknowledge the truth about it.
And the truth is, I will always love a number of people. But I am keen on being in a committed relationship with one.