the tragedy of the three


I recently received a letter from a visitor which read:

I’d like to get your opinion on this scenario – A woman loves two men, both of them want her only for themselves, yet each realizes that the other man touches her in places that they cannot. She will not let one man cross over into the other’s territory. It’s been going on for about ten months. All three of them are at the end of their ropes. J

Once I got over the shock that someone would even come to me for my opinion on such a thing (my love life, while colorful at times, hasn’t exactly always been successful), I realized I wanted to try to answer this. So here goes.

It’s just never easy and never pretty to have more than two people involved in a romantic situation (and sometimes it’s messy even with just two people). I can feel your pain. I’ve dated more than one person at a time. I’ve cared deeply for more than one person at a time. At one point in my life, I was even balanced on the sweet hot edge of falling out of love with one man and in love with another all at the same time.

And I’ll give the only answer that worked for me: every person has to decide for themselves what they’re willing to live with. And what they’re willing to give up. And I don’t just mean the shit that you talk yourself into because you want it so bad. I’m not talking about the shit you put up with because you don’t think that’s the way it’s always going to be, that things will change, they’ll settle down, they’ll be less stressful, they’ll all work out.

What I mean to say is, take a snapshot of life and how it is today, down to the last grain of truth. Could you live with this forever? What needs do you have that are not being met? What about wants? Because life does not hand out guarantees, and you can’t change people. Assume that life will continue indefinitely the way it is right now. If you can live with the compromise your life is made up of today, then stay in for the long haul and encourage the other people involved to do similar soul-searching.

But I’ll tell you this. Sounds to me like you already know you can’t live with the now. So I say walk away.

I’ve had to walk away twice in my life from something I wanted so badly it felt like it was ripping my soul out. But I couldn’t live with the compromise. I wanted something more for me. I wanted love and lust and someone who could be with me and face the risks ahead dead-on.

I hope I find it one day. For what it’s worth, J., I hope you do too.

About the author

Vikki McKay


  • J., that’s excellent news. You three have been in my thoughts often over the last several months. I hope you’ll keep me, us, updated as to your progress.

  • We made it, Kiddo. Our lives were completely changed for the better. I suppose that the pain purified.

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