My oldest brother just had a second baby, so I hunted for and bought two books for his three year old daughter about adjusting to a new sibling. People often retort to “But how can you really love more than one person?” with “Well how can you love and care for more than one child? Is your love for one diminished by your love for the others?” Reading through the books geared at preparing an older sibling, the comparison really is quite apt!
It’s true, of course, that you have less time for each partner, the more partners you have. But that’s true if you have kids, a demanding career, lots of friends, time consuming hobbies, close family, etc. I think it’s interesting that we don’t put limitations on most facets of life except for how many romantic partners you can/should have.
I’ve never been someone who has a lot of really close friends, and that actually made it a little harder for Ember when I started dating Catalyst. Ember had never really had to share me before. It was like he’d been an only child for years and years and then all of a sudden, there’s another kid! I’d always prioritized Ember far above my friends, so it’s been an ongoing adjustment to this idea that there’s someone else I really want to do things with, and unfortunately (though sometimes fortunately), they have pretty much the same hobbies. I’ve never seen Ember as upset and jealous/envious as when I accidentally started playing a video game with Catalyst that he’d been waiting to play with me (I had thought he’d already started it with his usual gaming group).
Being the only ____ is an easy way to feel special, but it’s not the only way. When Ember first moved to The Pacific NW, I was very insecure about needing to be known as his girlfriend by his social circles and coworkers, and went out of my way to meet people when I visited him; I was worried that he would start dating someone new who would then be known as “the girlfriend.” It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t that I needed to be known as the only important girlfriend, but I needed to be known as an important girlfriend. Whether or not there were other significant girlfriends was not really the issue.
I believe that humans are capable of a lot of love, and that love really isn’t the limiting factor. There’s always enough love. The question is whether you can meet the other tangible and intangible needs, like quality time and feeling special, of all your romantic partners. Polyamory isn’t about having the most partners possible. It’s about sustainable, (sometimes ever growing and evolving), networks and families of love and support. It’s about being open to the idea that the standard two adult household is not the only way to live a partnered life. It’s about being open to the idea that maybe a completely partnered life isn’t even what everyone wants.
Polyamory doesn’t mean never having to make sacrifices, never having to make hard choices. But it means you might not have to make certain hard choices, and it gives you more options in certain very important ways.