Sometimes, falling in love can feel like riding in an Uber Comfort with a final destination in mind. Other times (like on this season of The Bachelor), the route to romance looks more like a Lyft Line with multiple stops. Whether you're currently smooching more than one sweetie or you're deeply invested in Pilot Pete's love life, you might be wondering if it's really possible to be in love with more than one person at the same time.
Nearing yet another colorful finale, bachelor Peter Weber (aka "Pilot Pete") told Entertainment Tonight that he fell in love with not one, not two, but three of this season's contestants. "This experience has shown me that there's not just one soulmate out there," Weber said. "I've definitely been able to give my heart to more than one person."
While living in a mansion with a bunch of people who want to date you might not be all that relatable (or maybe it is! I don't know your life), experts say falling for more than one flame is actually pretty common.
"A loving individual can certainly feel deeply in love with several people at once," Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. "That said, the nature of real love would indicate that the person’s behaviors not, in any way, harm any of the people who are loved."
If you and your boo(s) are in a consensual polyamorous relationship or have recently visited the option of opening up your relationship (or you've elected to live in a house full of people who are all dating your boyfriend), you may already candidly discuss seeing other people and how you envision your relationships unfolding. However, if all parties involved are looking for something monogamous, the experts share the importance of proceeding with extreme compassion and mindfulness.
While it can be cathartic to express your feelings, it's crucial to understand how your words or actions may be interpreted. (Read: If you, like Pilot Pete, tell everyone you're seeing that you want to marry them, they'll likely be caught off guard when you call it off to be with someone else.)
In addition to being mindful of your actions, Manly recommends checking in with your emotions. While it's possible to feel head over heels for Derek from accounting, Mara from improv, and your new gym buddy Alix, Manly says you could also be experiencing extreme attraction.
"It’s so important to differentiate between being in love and feeling connected to, attracted to, or aroused by a person you are dating," Manly says. "Real love is generally built over time, whereas feelings of attraction and desire tend to arise early on in a relationship."
According to dating coach and dating app expert Meredith Golden, when you're dating around or swiping through apps, you might find a lot of people you're attracted to. And that's totally OK: Spending time with more than one person can help you better understand what you're looking for from a relationship.
The more time you spend with each person, the easier it will be to ascertain which person is the best fit in the long run.
"It's typical to like multiple people during the dating process," Golden tells Bustle. "The reason I tell clients to date multiple people until they are ready to commit to one person is because it puts feelings in perspective."
But as you start to develop more ardent feelings, Golden stresses being transparent about what you can realistically give your dates, like how much time you have to send with them and whether or not you're seeing other people.
For Shula Melamed, MA, MPH, and well-being coach, falling in love with more than one person may change the types of relationships you were initially looking for. "Love is one thing, but living your life with another person doesn't necessarily always align with a long-term partnership," Melamed tells Bustle. "Be curious and see if you are on the same page and want the same things."
If you're wondering how to start the "I love you, but I also love other people" conversation, Melamed suggests communication with your partner(s) directly. Take them out on a date, turn off your phone, and ask about how they envision their future. You won't know if they're open to exploring different types of relationship dynamics until you talk about it. "Ask yourself if this person wants similar things to you," Melamed says. "Do you converge on important topics and pursuits in life?"
Of course, if you're looking for something monogamous, but you've found yourself catching feeling for more than one cutie, Manly says you should give yourself a little extra time and space to process. Once you've gotten clear on your needs and desires, spend one-on-one time with each person in a variety of situations, to see how your relationship weathers good times and bad.
"The more time you spend with each person, the easier it will be to ascertain which person is the best fit in the long run," Manly says.
Remember: Although Pilot Pete has to make a choice by the season finale, you have both time and agency to decide what type(s) of relationships are right for you.
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist
Meredith Golden, dating coach and dating app expert
Shula Melamed, MA, MPH, and well-being coach