Alex Aster is the managing editor of The Newsette, children’s book series author, and writer behind Aster Way. As a part of our “Ask Alex” series, she tackles some of our readers’ most pressing questions, in an effort to bring a new perspective to the table. Today, Alex answers a question about love.

Dear Alex: I won’t get into specifics, but I want your take–can you be in love with two people at the same time?

Alex: Being in love is this rare potion of infatuation, with electricity running right through it–everything is heightened. And though we’ve often been told that being in love is like being struck by lightning–it so rarely strikes the same place twice–I think that image is over-simplified. Why? Because I don’t think we know that we’re in love when we’re in the midst of it. Not really. How many times have you thought you were in love, only to scrunch your face and say what was I thinking? about that same relationship a year later?

What does being in love mean to you? Does it mean you can’t stop thinking about those two people, and get giddy whenever their names pop up on your phone? I wouldn’t call that love. I think being in love is two people whose relationship has been repeatedly tested, like hurricane-proof windows in a chain of storms. True love is being able to live with that person for years without wanting to tear their hair out. It’s accepting their deeply-hidden flaws (which you might not even discover until a year or two in). It’s forgiving them when they’ve hurt you. It’s making amends when you’ve hurt them. It’s all of these beautiful and devastating things wrapped into a package you still decide to accept year after year, even though you know exactly what potential pain and risk lay swathed inside. Because being in love is a risk. You pour your best emotions, your focus, and your time into one investment that could end up going belly-up.

If you’re trying to decide which of these two people you love more, or are better suited for, think of this–who, at your absolute worst moments (losing a job, losing someone close to you, experiencing a crushing failure), would you want by your side? Who would you want to hang out with not when you’re young and wrinkle-free, but when you can’t get out of bed without something hurting? It’s the worst moments that define a relationship, in the long run. And if you can survive those, then you can get through anything.

Good luck!

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