Many people believe in the concept of a "soulmate". Do I need to share everything with my partner? Should my partner always be my best and closest friend?

I'm wary of these sorts of comparatives: best, closest. We all have many relationships that mean a great deal to us, and we do not need to make sure that one of them is "best", "closest". Indeed, if there is anything I've learned about relationships, it is how destructive those sorts of expectations can be. One certainly should not feel that if some interest one has isn't shared by one's partner, then it isn't worthwhile, or has to be sacrificed to the relationship, or what have you. That kind of thing starts to sound to me kind of clingy and possessive. There may be some counterexamples, but in most healthy couples I know, both partners have interests that are not shared (or not really embraced) by the other partner, and their freedom to explore and nurture those interests with other friends or family is part of what keeps them growing, both individually and as a couple.

I was talking to a girl about my opinions on love, and on the topic of polygamy I told her that theoretically (it's hard enough falling in love with one person!) I could see myself with two women that I completely loved. She told me that I confused her because she could not square that statement with a previous statement where I spoke of my want for true love. I told her that I didn't see any contradiction between those two sentiments. Maybe if I understood why people are opposed to polygamy I would have an easier time defending my opinion on the subject. So why is it said by so many people that it is impossible to fall in love with more than one person at the same time? When I ask these people why this is so they can not give me a clear answer. Can you provide a clear explanation for why love must (or allegedly must) be exclusive to only one sexual partner?

Without meaning to take a stand on anything, I think it is worth mentioning that, in most actual "polyamorous" relationships, things are not as Eric describes, where one partner "receive[s] 100% of the relational attention from two [others],while they each have to settle for about 50% of" the former's. Rather, people who enter into such relationships are very often bi-sexual and bi-amorous, and so each partner distributes his or her attention to both of the other two. Of course, that probably makes the relationship even more emotionally complicated. The other remark it may be worth making here echoes one of Allen's. One often hears it asked: If we allow gay marriage, why not polygamous marriage? Partial answer: The laws on marriage really do assume, in ever so many ways, that a marriage is a relationship between two people. There are, for example, no provisions whatsoever for the dissolution of part of a marriage, in which two of the married parties might decide to continue without the other....

If love of others is taken to be a supreme value is there any ethical justification for a mature (50+) married man and woman to love each other when they are not married to each other (adultery) assuming children are not at risk (grown and gone or don't exist) and that great care is taken to keep the relationship secret and private (assume both live in distant countries/cultures)? Assume neither pregnancy nor disease are issues. Assume both people live in passionless but stable and friendly situations and recognize legitimate needs of all concerned to social and financial stability. Both divorcing would likely cause much pain and disruption to many. Terminating the relationship would deny both their last chance of expressing their mutual affection, of sharing their highest value. From at least Aristotle on, and for most religions and cultures, adultery is a no brainer - wrong without question. With aging populations in a modern context this question will become more common. If it is wrong, how...

I'm not sure why one would suppose that "love of others"---by which you seem, obviously, to mean romantic love---is a "supreme value", expressing which over-rides so much else. That said, yes, this kind of question is very real. And surely it's possible for someone to decide, in certain circumstances, that it is better to have an affair than to destroy a marriage, neither option being a very good one.

If no one ever loves me during my lifetime - if I don't ever have a relationship - will I have not lived properly? Is love that important to life, or is it something you can choose to engage in if you like? Thank you.

I wonder whether the deeper question isn't one to which Nicholas alludes: Can I have lived a good life—not if I've never been loved but—if I've never loved?