You might feel like the prize in a tug of war love struggle.

How to Choose Between Two People You Love

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Sometimes in life you have to make a choice between two people you love. It could be a choice between your child and another family member or your lover, or between two potential mates. The choice isn’t always clear cut and might require you to carefully analyze the relationships to determine what is best for all parties, such as when your child or family dislikes your partner.

1. Needs Assessment

To make a choice, determine what you need in the given situation. Ask how each person meets your needs and those of your child. In a prospective mate, you might ask whether he will make a good husband and stepparent and whether you and your child are treated well, suggests marital therapist Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D., on his Marriage Builders website. If the choice is between a partner and your disapproving parent, consider telling your parent that your mate choice is your decision and not his. If your partner won't commit to a relationship with you and your child, choose the parent. If an interfering, toxic parent causes stress and marital strife, estrangement could be your best option.

2. Long-Term Goals and Priorities

Consider your long-term goals and priorities and how each person fits with those, recommends an eHarmony article, "Torn Between Two Lovers." If your goal is to build a stable relationship and home for you and your child, decide which person will be the most financially and emotionally stable, most compatible with you and your child and offer the most emotional support. If a potential suitor can’t commit or is emotionally unavailable, you can drop him.

3. Benefits and Risks

Every choice has benefits and risks, so list how each person will benefit your life, suggests the eHarmony staff. Make a second list describing the risks in choosing either individual. For example, if one suitor doesn’t have a job and you need financial stability, consider how long the jobless state will last and how you will make ends meet if you choose him. Also consider the past patterns of behavior for each person; consider which person supports you and encourages you and your child the most.

4. Love or Infatuation

When choosing between two suitors, decide whether you love each person or are infatuated, suggests pastoral counselor Chip Ingram on the FamilyLife website. Love is mutually beneficial, and balances closeness and separateness. It includes healthy affection, seeks the best for everyone and demonstrates an equal amount of give and take. Loving relationships include trust, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, mutual support and good conflict resolution skills. Love is more selfless than selfish. Anything less or different is infatuation.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images