What’s So Bad About Loving Two People at Once?

Choosing the characteristics of a perfect love interest seems like an easy task. Most of us would say gorgeous, smart, rich, devoted, thoughtful and romantic. Okay, I did say perfect, but I suspect most of us would probably settle for a hell of a lot less. In a romantic novel, however, we are free to dream.

In my new erotic romance, suspense series The Only One (The One #1, and The One and More #2, May/June 2014 release) I asked myself what irresistible traits a perfect lover should possess. I concluded that perfection is unattainable, and probably pretty boring. So I tweaked my concept of one perfect lover and decided that two might be more fun than one.

Given the eroticism of these novels each partner’s sexual proclivities and passions are never stagnant, but grow and evolve over time. My heroine begins the series as a sexual novice, but by the end of the series, she has mastered the skills and becomes a formidable partner. She tries to act with emotional clarity, and has a better understanding of what her needs and preferences are. In the end she realizes that she is satisfied in different ways by each of her lovers which leaves her with the impossible choice of which one to make a life partner.

You might think, why choose? In a conventional society we are encouraged to mate with one person at a time. The “proper” way is to find that compatible someone, marry, have children, and support one another as we navigate the rocky haphazard road of life. If, or when, a relationship fails, then, at least in our contemporary world, we are free to divorce and hopefully find another suitable companion and start the process all over again; which has not always been the case throughout history. One has only to look back to the tragic love affair of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mahmah Borthwick Cheney to understand just how unforgiving and destructive stepping outside of society’s norms can be. Married to other people, they made the mistake of falling in love with each other and acting on it. With spouses that refused to grant them divorces, they were vilified, run out of town, and hounded by the press, which nearly destroyed the career of one of the most important architects of all time. All because they dared to live outside of what was acceptable. The very idea of sharing oneself with more than one partner at the same time, even today, remains one of the great taboos of a civil society.

Fifty plus years later Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher would create their own love scandal when Eddie divorced Debbie Reynolds and married Taylor three-and-a-half hours after his divorce became final. For her part in the scandal, Elizabeth would carry the crown of “Homewrecker”. In 1963 when she met Richard Burton on the set of Cleopatra, Taylor garnered a new crown when the Vatican condemned their union, calling it ‘erotic vagrancy’, I love that one. Whereas Mahmah and Wright were scorned by the press, Taylor and Burton were immortalized.

The notion of loving two people at once is nothing new, we do it all of the time. We love our child, or children, and have no trouble distributing our love in, hopefully, equal measures to one or more of them. The same is true of our parents, we love them both, whether or not they live up to our expectations of parenting. This proves that we are capable of loving in many different ways, and many different people. It is only when romantic, sensual love is added to the equation that we are told, at least by society’s mores, that we are incapable of loving two people at once, and we are most certainly discouraged from loving two people sexually at the same time.

Just as we change throughout our lives, our relationships change with us. What might have begun as a heart stopping embrace, will undoubtedly modify over time. The bright inflamed embers of new love have a habit of burning out, or at least burning with a reduced flame. What remains usually between long time lovers (marrieds) are bonds of trust, unwavering support, mutual respect, friendship, and a shared life. United as one, the longtime partners share cherished memories and the knowledge that no matter what comes they face it together. Hopefully, they are still having sex even if it’s not that all encompassing feeling of passionate desire. If a new exciting love interest enters the picture and a love affair begins, it sparks a fire. With a new love every cell in the brain and body is rejuvenated with a memory of what it feels like to be mad and crazy in love. Our pulse quickens, and we feel fully alive. Is one better than the other? Probably not, it’s just new. To be fair, each has moments of shared joy and happiness. Besides, most of us have learned through experience that over time all things become more or less equal. The new love will most certainly lose steam in the passion and the desire department as we settle into a more lasting union. In other words, over time a new love is likely to become much like the old love.

Sometimes, though, life presents circumstances in which a relationship with deep feelings and great sex is somehow blown apart beyond the control of the two lovers and the relationship is brought to an end. The two that were one must now build new lives without ever really resolving the situation. They are still attracted to and in love with each other, but no longer bound to one another. They meet and see new people; one of them might even fall in love with a new person. Now we’re talking about being in love with two people, even if  sex is only happening with just the one. But, what if the one partner that hasn’t fallen in love with anyone else, and has never relinquished their love decides that no matter what the cost, they will do whatever it takes to regain the love that was lost to them. That is exactly the dilemma that faces my heroine Adelia Lindstrom. Although she is still in love with her former husband, Miles, she knows that the relationship is over. Life goes on and she falls in love with someone else. When  Miles inserts himself back into her life, she finds herself incapable of denying him access. Hence, she is in love with two men at the same time and enjoying the different pleasures that both deliver. What’s wrong with that, you might ask? The problem is, she eventually has to make a choice. Multiple lovers are a complication that can get ugly. Then there is that ticking bomb of what other’s think, not to mention human nature’s propensity for jealousy.

Ah, life, the beauty of it is that the one thing you can count on with certainty, is that it will undoubtedly present you with obstacles and choices. Writers count on it, for without difficulties and challenges, there would be nothing to write about. What is the solution for my heroine? We’ll just have to wait and see. However, it will be fun exploring the possibilities of sustaining two separate love interests. Damn, if that doesn’t sound like the next book.

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