About six months ago there was a pretty seismic shift in the open/poly lifestyle that Jeannie and I were exploring. This shift focused around what it means to be IN LOVE with someone else. Nuances and semantics around the phrase “in love” became the story of the day. It was often distracting from the true topic(s) at hand, yet we did work through it and we’re truly in a better place about our various relationships these days.
Regardless of being in a better place, Jeannie and I continued struggling over the (VERY) minor issue of terms and definitions. We still didn’t have a common language to explain what “in love” meant to each of us. Then Jeannie can upon this article: “Love Vs. In Love: Which Is Better?“. While we take issue with the title (one is not inherently better) this was the first time there was science highlighted to explain the difference. This brought us to an interesting conclusion.
When Jeannie shared this article to me she said:
“This is the best, most scientific description I have come across on this topic and it seems to support your definition as opposed to mine.”
I don’t entirely agree that “I was right and she was wrong,” but supporting my position in this case can actually benefit both of us. Here’s why….
Basically, Jeannie’s position was that you simply cannot be in love with more than one person. To be in love is so all-encompassing that we only have the capacity to be in love with one person. We can love other people, in many different ways. But to be in love, well, that is only for soulmates or the like.
My position was that being in love is simply a powerful feeling and as long as there is enough fuel for the fire, that fire can burn for multiple people at once. Simply put, my being in love with Justina didn’t take away any of my love or energy for Jeannie.
A couple of comparative terms came up for me: NRE (new relationship energy) and infatuation. The article talks about the chemical process of falling in love and uses both of these terms when describing the outcome. Unlike our current SCROTUS, Jeannie believes in science and really appreciated having this spelled out scientifically.
What This Means For Us
The writer explains that you can love someone forever and you can go through various periods of infatuation (or being in love) if you work at it. I wholeheartedly agree with this! Most, but not all, relationships experience NRE and “fall in love” for the first time during this period. It’s a story for another day, but Jeannie and I had a very non-traditional courtship, so I can’t recall a true NRE period in our early years. Yet there was definitely an infatuation period when we connected for the last time as friends and agreed that we were moving in together to (FINALLY!) pursue a romantic relationship.
I didn’t know it at the time, but there’s no doubt that I fell in love with Jeannie many times during our marriage. At the time it just felt like the natural ebbs and flows of a long term relationship. Now I see that those period support the view that we are truly soulmates and meant to be each other’s primary partner. I’m also now realizing that opening our relationship has made falling in love with her again even more accessible. Again, a story for another day, but trust me on this for now.
What The Means For Others
So Jeannie and I have resolved this conflict, we’re in a great place, and everything is sunshine and roses, right? Yes! Well, and NO! I love what I have with Justina and I’m sorry it ever caused anyone any pain. Now that the NRE is behind us, Justina and I are establishing our comfortable patterns. Of course, in isolation, these patterns have become much less romantic and sexy such that even if there were existing NRE, I’m not sure we’d know how to manifest that energy into actions. Either way, I’m happy to have this beautiful, loving person as an important part of my life right now. And I very much look forward to rekindling the sexy fire when we’re able to see each other in person again.
At the same time, Jeannie has connected with Alex and may be experiencing her own feelings of being in love. It’s almost as important to Alex that Jeannie found this article because she thought she wasn’t capable of these feelings for someone other than me. She may not be in love yet, but she does now recognize and embrace the possibility. While I experience the occasional jealous moment, I’m generally super happy she found this for herself. Hearing her use words like “smitten” and “swoon” can sting a little, but so can impact play, and the results are often red hot!
I feel that Jeannie discovering she can be in love with someone else has unlocked yet another part of her sexuality that had been locked away for years. We don’t yet know where this will take us, but we like where we are going right now. We also both agree that we’re here for the ride and looking forward to the continuation of this journey.
Wherever it goes.