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Can you be in love with two people at once?

We’ve been asking a lot of experts about love, and one thing we wondered was whether it’s possible to be in love with two people at once.

A lot of people who write pop tunes seem to think this can be a problem. But researchers we talked to aren’t so sure. Anthropologist Helen Fisher says people have three mating drives: lust, romantic love, and long-term attachment. You can love one person and still lust for another, she says, but you can’t feel romantic love for two people at the same time.

“Intense romantic love is very powerful,” she says.

A person in its grips thinks the beloved is uniquely wonderful, uniquely worthy. William Jankowiak, an anthropologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, agrees that love and lust are not the same.

“You can have sex with multiple people,” he says, “but there’s a desire to have an intimate bond with one and only one.”

Jankowiak argues that human beings are not sexually monogamous but are emotionally monogamous. He says you can’t be in love with two people at the same time, at least not in the same way. Jankowiak has studied polygynous cultures, and he says that even in societies where a man is supposed to love all of his wives equally, he “found they could not pull it off.” The husband always secretly has one favorite wife, the wife he’s really in love with. Jankowiak refers to this as “illicit monogamy.”

Here’s Jankowiak offering a lecture about love that echoes Helen Fisher’s ideas about the three types of love.

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  1. I just don’t get the prohibition agasint self-pleasure in the LDS as well as most other religious traditions. It then extends to an issue in a relationship.If you want a 14 year-old boy to not think about sex all day…let him jerk off once in a while…tell him it’s a good thing and he won’t be trying to get into the pants of the first girl that he has a crush on. If you tell him he can’t touch something that is attached TO HIS OWN BODY…you are already asking way too much.The only reason I can come up with to explain the taboo in one having to do with control. The Church is trying to OWN the sexual pleasure of people from a very young age because if they do not OWN it and cede it to the person themselves they will lose control over them.Same with a spouse who thinks its bad for their partner to masturbate. If cedes sexual control to their spouse and it makes them feel as though they aren’t needed. You are right, rhythms and schedules differ but if one spouse has a lesser libido than the other and simply expects their partner to accept it, not understand them enough to provide what they need…how can they be upset that they try to take care of the extra themselves? And why don’t they even participate in it as a loving gesture? It could only be about control.It took me a long time to come to terms with this idea and I have a wife who isn’t threatened by it. Though I would always prefer making love to HER to going SOLO I understand that sex for her while not “in the mood” isn’t good for me either. Short of making love with my wife I would prefer just have her around in some capacity to being by myself.But for one partner to screw up their nose, be grossed out or be horrified by the revelation that masturbation happens is just cruel and should be a taboo unto itself.How dare they?Show me someone who doesn’t like to masturbate once in a while and I will show you someone who isn’t any good in bed anyway. And not being good in bed or not TRYING to be good in bed for one’s partner (eternal or otherwise) should be the biggest taboo of all.

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