What to Do if You Love More Than One Person
This was originally a reply to another posting. I’ve decided to post this on the stories section so that more people are able to find it. I haven’t read much targeted to people my age. Most of the stories are of teenagers and people in their 20’s. This is more for people who have struggled for many years with unrequited love. I am over 40, so that should give you some idea of who this is targeted for.
I read your story and identified with what you were saying, so much so that it is scary. I too struggle with unrequited love for another while enjoying a wonderful marriage. I've been reading everything I can on the subject of unrequited love and the most common piece of advice I have read is to sever all contact with the object of my love. I cannot do this. The first and most important reason is that we work in the same field. For one of us to give up our dreams of success just because we have "a crush" is unthinkable.
I know. You say this isn't just a crush, and I agree with you. I just do not know what else to call it. I have looked up all sorts of definitions for what I feel and not one of them captures the essence of my emotions. I cannot and will not sever my connection with my "Immortal Beloved" because to live without him in my life would be far more painful than the feelings I'm living with now.
I have known the object of my desire for 25 years. My desire for this person ebbs and flows, depending on what is going on in my life. I've been in and out of relationships, but my heart and mind always return to thoughts about this person, especially when I am unhappy or not in a relationship. This is the second time that my feelings have peaked for my love since I have been married to my current spouse. My "Immortal Beloved" is the same age as my spouse. They are both 13 years older than me.
I first met my "Immortal Beloved" when I was a teenager. He was one of the adults running a youth organization and I was one of the youth. I fell for him immediately. It was easy then to let go of him because I was so much younger and he was so much more sophisticated, intelligent and worldly than I was. It was easy to view him as inaccessible. It was also easier to believe that I was unworthy of his love.
About 10 years and one failed marriage later I returned to my home town only to find my "Beloved" involved with the same organization I was. It was shocking to me. I had never imagined I would see him or work with him again. I was single, and it could have been possible to hook up with him. We spoke on the phone frequently. He had just gone through a nasty divorce (my divorce was more amicable) and I think he was relieved to find someone he could talk to. I listened as he shared his thoughts and feelings with me. I was in heaven. I couldn't wait till we would see each other or talk to each other again.
While I could see him as a potential boyfriend by this time, I had things to do. I was rebuilding my life, and this meant doing whatever I needed to do professionally to succeed, including leaving my home town. So I left, and again thoughts of my "Immortal Beloved" began to subside. I married my second husband. We have had our difficulties and I have left him more than once, but we have always talked and been able to reconcile. At this point, I know that my husband worships the ground I walk on and would do almost anything for me.
We have since moved back to my home town, and the connection with my "Beloved" has been reestablished. At first, I was able to see him as a good friend. However, after a few months of seeing each other at least once a week, my strong feelings of love for him returned with a vengeance. In a manic-depressive state, and feelings of a marriage turned sour I wrote an e-mail to my "Beloved", confessing my feelings for him. I received no reply. I realized that what I had done was wrong and was hurtful not only to him but to my marriage as well. It was a selfish act done in despair. I immediately sent off another e-mail, begging him to forget what I wrote, saying I had made a mistake. No reply again.
I saw him the next morning and he looked like he had been through the ringer. I promised myself and my higher power that I would never do such a hurtful thing again. "Just mend my professional friendship with my 'Beloved'" I prayed, "and I will be satisfied with what I have."
It took a long time, and things still aren't back to the same way they used to be, but me and my "Beloved" are able to work together and even share a few laughs again. I thank my higher power for granting me this second chance.
Well, its a few years later now, and my feelings for my "beloved" have ebbed and flowed like the ocean. Right now, I am in a period of alternating emotions from extreme ecstasy to mind-numbing depression. I have made an appointment to see a psychiatrist to help me through this. It will be four long months before I can see the psychiatrist so what do I do until then?
I have employed a variety of strategies to help me avoid the same mistakes I made before. It is difficult, but perhaps these strategies will help you cope with your feelings.
1. When thoughts of my beloved return to me unannounced, I accept them as a gift instead of a curse. I use the feelings I get from this euphoria to connect more with my husband. It is surprising how well this has worked for me. When I am with my husband I am able to let go of my feelings for my "Beloved". While it is still difficult to deal with the invasive thoughts, I am able to use the euphoria of passionate love I feel to rejuvenate my marriage.
I realize that you have the opposite problem: When you are with your husband you think of your "beloved" and when you are with your "beloved" you think of your husband. I don't know what to say about this. Hopefully someone else has a few ideas.
2. I do not try to avoid my "Immortal Beloved". I have come to realize that doing this only makes matters worse for me. Instead, I have come to accept my feelings. I understand now that my heart has a great capacity to love and that it is natural to get these feelings. While there are times when I seem to go out of my way to talk to my "Beloved", I accept this as a character defect and try to not do this too much. I keep e-mails very short, and share as few personal details of my life as possible.
3. Daydreaming - The Curse. The one element that I have had trouble with is the daydreaming. You know what I mean. You're on a long trip and thoughts of your "Beloved" begin popping into your mind. You begin fantasizing about potential encounters with your "Beloved" and before you know it you are immersed in a world of eternal bliss. Then you begin to realize how impossible the situation is and you begin to have feelings of depression. I've learned to accept these occurrences and do my best to live with them and not get too carried away.
4. Keep Busy! I try to keep as busy as I can, avoiding situations where I can daydream. If I do start daydreaming, I forgive myself and try to stop. If I can't stop, I allow the daydream to continue to its inevitable conclusion. I think of the fact that it is impossible for him to love me as much as I love him. This will usually bring me back to the real world.
5. Daydream about turning your "Beloved" down. While I don't know how my "Beloved" feels about me, there are times where I will daydream about turning him down. I list all of the reasons why we cannot act on our feelings for one another and pretend to say goodbye forever.
6. Finding ways to reconnect with your husband. I have worked very hard to find ways to reconnect with my husband. We are currently working together on a fun little project and it helps us to stay connected. I also make time everyday to sit and visit. Talking with my husband about our future and our hopes and dreams helps me to keep my focus on my marriage.
7. Tell someone else about what you are feeling. My spouse was very angry when I told him and it resulted in me leaving him for a second time. We eventually reconciled and the hurt feelings are healing. I would not advise anyone to confide your feelings to your spouse. It can really hurt them. Instead, see a psychiatrist, psychologist, spiritual leader or very good friend who can keep your feelings confidential. It helps to admit how you feel to someone else. I have found that it keeps me on my guard about how I behave when my "Beloved" is around and keeps me from straying.
8. This seems kind of dumb, but it is a real eye-opener. I took one of those "How do you know it's really love?" tests and realized that I know almost nothing about my "Beloved". Really! I don't know how he feels about me. I don't know many personal details about his life. For all I know, he could be a real jerk underneath that charismatic facade.
9. These same feelings have been felt by millions of people past and present. I'm a big music buff and two composers who struggled with unrequited love are Hector Berlioz and Ludwig van Beethoven. I feel privileged to keep such good company. It is the same way with my manic-depression. Patty Duke, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Richard Dreyfuss and countless artists and musicians have all struggled with manic-depression.
10. Just accept it and muddle through it. I've come to accept that unless I medicate myself into a vegetative state, these feelings will never disappear. I research what I'm feeling to find out everything I can. I accept what I cannot change and change the things I can. An example of this is the fact that I will never be able to and would never want to sever all my connections with my "Beloved". However, I do limit my contact with him by not participating in as many activities as I could.
11. I try to recapture what I felt when I was younger, that my "Immortal Beloved" will forever be beyond my reach so there is no sense in agonizing over it.
12. If I ever did leave my husband or cheated on him with my "Beloved" and we were able to eventually hook up, there would always be that "elephant in the room". Would I find another “Beloved” and do the same thing to “Beloved #1”. I don’t want to lay a faulty foundation. If there is even the slightest chance of us being together some day, I want to make sure that the relationship begins as an honest and honorable one, not with lies and deceit.
13. Being grateful for what I've got. So many people today are alone. They do not have one love let alone two. I am privileged to know two people in this world that I would do anything for - two people who I love unconditionally.
14. When my obsessive thoughts are REALLY bad, I find it helpful to chant “I do not love “Beloved”, I love husband” over and over again. I also talk to myself and name all of the reasons why I do not deserve to be with my “Beloved” or all the reasons why he would never consider me as a potential love interest. It takes a day or two, but I’m usually able to snap myself out of it.
15. The last thing I want to share with you is that reality is never as perfect as fantasy. Even if by some series of events you were able to connect with your "Beloved", the struggles of everyday life from financial worries to disagreements about how to squeeze the toothpaste tube would eventually rear their ugly heads. The euphoria of passionate love never lasts forever. It can return and be maintained if you keep on top of things, but it is hard work.
What would I do if my "Immortal Beloved" ever disclosed that he feels the same way about me? I do not know for sure, because it has never happened. The answer to this question is different for everyone. I have great compassion for anyone who has left a perfectly good marriage only to be devastated by the consequences of their choice. These facts I do know:
1. I have made a life-long commitment to my husband.
2. My husband has done nothing since we have reconciled to justify my leaving him.
3. My husband loves me more than anyone else in the world and has dedicated himself to my happiness and contentment.
Can I truly say this about my "Immortal Beloved"?
4. I can truly be myself with my husband. I could have gas smelly enough to melt plastic and he would still find me attractive and sexy!
5. My "Immortal Beloved" has never divulged anything concrete to make me believe that he has any feelings for me what-so-ever.
6. One day my "Immortal Beloved" may seem completely into our conversations, the next day he can't get away fast enough. Think how bad this could be in an intimate relationship.
7. My "Immortal Beloved" has not been very successful in his intimate relationships.
8. He appears to be a work-aholic.
I am grateful for knowing and being able to spend time with my "Immortal Beloved". I accept the fact that in reality he probably doesn't even give me a second thought.
While it is not a state of being I would wish on anyone, even the people I dislike the most, it has helped me to learn the meaning of empathy. I now understand what people go through when they experience unrequited love. I now understand how some people can cheat and lie to maintain an adulterous relationship. I now understand how it is possible to be in love with more than one person.
My hope is that my story can help others who struggle with this problem.