The Heart Wants What It Wants


"The heart wants what it wants," the saying goes. I can't say I disagree. Last week I answered an email from someone who wanted to know if it was possible to open a marriage and dictate that no one fall in love. You can check out last week's entry for the answer. I'll give you a hint – it depends…

But I promised then that I would complete my answer by explaining more about how the concept of polyamory works for me. You see, when we first opened our marriage, I certainly imagined that it was possible for us to refrain from falling in love with someone else. That wasn't the point as far as we were concerned.

Instead, it was about seeking sex and companionship that would complement the love we had within my marriage. I figured, like I think most people do, that I didn't need to love anyone else romantically and, in fact, that I couldn't.

Nothing could have turned out to be further from the truth.

When I met Jemma (my girlfriend of more than a year and a half now), we became fast friends. But it wasn't long before our friendship intensified and turned into something all together different. It began with our sleeping together. But it soon became, well, love. And not just the kind between best friends. It was something more romantic than what one generally has with a friend. That is, I didn't just love her. I was (and am) in love with her.

I can see the jaws dropping and the eyes popping and the hands wringing now. If I'm in love with her then that must mean I'm no longer in love with my husband, right? It must mean I'm in some sort of denial about my sexuality or that I'm staying in my marriage for all the wrong reasons, right?


One doesn't cancel out the other. New love does not make less of the old. Or, rather, it doesn't have to.

We have been raised to believe that there is one person out there who will complete us, who will make us whole, and for whom we will have feelings that we will have for no one else. But what if it turns out that's not true? What if that is merely the stuff of which movies are made? What if love begets love and we are stifling ourselves in an exceptionally unnatural way?

I have often heard people expecting their second child express fear that they won't be able to love the second baby as much as they do the first. "What if I don't have enough love to go around?" they ask. And then the minute that new baby is born they can literally feel their hearts expand.

For me, that is the way it is with polyamory. The amount we love is only limited by the amount we allow ourselves to love. My love for my husband has intensified, not decreased. I have become more aware of him and of myself and of what we mean to one another. It becomes too easy to take one's partner for granted. But when you are balancing more than one partner, that type of carelessness becomes treacherous. Besides, the heart wants what it wants. And my heart wants them both.

Trying to mandate love is like telling a flower to limit its blooms. Corny? Perhaps. But I cannot help but think of the metaphor of flowers and all things living and growing when I think about love. Put it in a pot, stifle its roots and bound to that pot it will remain. But plant it in the ground and allow it all the sun and water it wants and only the earth and sky are the limit for how far and wide it can grow.

None of this is to suggest that a person can't be happy and satisfied with one partner. I have plenty of friends for whom monogamy is the perfect fit. But I know even more people for whom it doesn't work. In fact, it is strangling the otherwise happy partnerships they have. We can't all wear the same size t-shirt. So, why in the world do we demand that everyone "wear" the same size love…?

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.