A bunch of folks sent me links to today's Ask Amy column and directing my attention to the first letter. But it's the last letter that caught my attention. A man—a man who's cheating on his wife—wonders if it's possible to be in love with two people at the same time. Amy's responds...
You don't love two women at the same time. In fact, it's quite obvious that you don't really love either of these women.
Amy can't set aside her feelings about adultery long enough to answer the dude's question: "Is it possible to be in love with two people at the same time?" You can be in love with more than one person at the same time. It's more complicated, of course, and running around behind the wife's back isn't the path toward a healthy, functional poly relationship. Successful poly relationships are built on honesty and trust, not lies and betrayals. But they can and do exist.
And maybe Amy knows it: she writes that you don't love two women at the same time, not that you can't. Poor word choice? Or tacit acknowledgement that it is possible to be in love with more than one person at at time? The latter, I think. But open relationships—particularly successful ones—make traditional types like Amy uncomfortable. And as an advice columnist, ahem, Amy gets to declare things in or out of bounds; it's her column, the dude sought her advice. So she says it just isn't "done" because she doesn't think people should, and not because people don't.
But I agree with Amy that the adultery in this instance can't be justified. It doesn't sound like the dude has grounds to sneak around: he hasn't been cut off by the wife. If you haven't been backed into a corner—if you aren't getting any at home and can't divorce because of kids or other legit considerations—permissible, ethical adultery requires advance notice and negotiation.