Can a Married Man Love Two Women Equally?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Can a married man love two women at same time and equally?

A: The short answer is yes. In human societies there are both polygamous (one man, multiple wives) and polyandrous (one woman, multiple husbands.) The broader term of having multiple romantic partners, polyamory, applies when the purpose is to have more than one intimate relationship at a time with each partner’s knowledge and consent.

But I think the nature of your question is different from the possibility.

In polygamous relationships the surrounding culture, and certainly the people involved, requires an acceptance and tolerance of the triangulated nature of the interpersonal relationship. So, at least technically, it is possible, but the people must be emotionally prepared to accept these arrangements. The same is true of polyamory — it was recently estimated that there are 500,000 practitioners in the United States.

But the practical nature of this is typically a very unstable, short-lived situation. Woody Allen’s Vicky, Christina, Barcelona explores the temporary and fragile nature of this arrangement. Naturally there are exceptions to this, but it is not an arrangement that many people from traditionally monogamous societies can manage.

Perhaps the more important question here isn’t if it is possible, but if you are willing to accept being in such a relationship. The most obvious issues are coping with jealousy, control, comparison, and self-esteem. For what it’s worth, I have never known this to work for any extended period of time. Even with people I have known to go into the poly societies, they have not emerged from them with a sense that it was workable. The only places I know where it is successful is in cultures where the practice and acceptance is imbedded in the values and lifestyles.

Rather than ask if it is possible for him, ask if it is possible for you to accept.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Feb 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Can a Married Man Love Two Women Equally?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/02/01/can-a-married-man-love-two-women-equally/