I Was A Compulsive Serial Dater — Here’s How I’m Breaking The Cycle

Serial dating is when you date one person after another without taking a break in between — sometimes the relationships even overlap. I’ve been doing this for over a decade but it’s finally time to break the cycle because it isn’t working for me anymore. Instead of being compulsive about dating, I’m trying some new tactics.

First, I’m taking a huge break from dating.

I’m hitting the restart button, hoping to come back a new me. Taking a break from dating is terrifying for someone who compulsively dates one person after another, but I’m doing it. In fact, I’m already a few months in. I’m hoping this will help break the cycle because I’m learning to be alone and practicing not using someone else to get out of myself.

I’m realizing that people can’t fix me.

I felt that I could be healed by wrapping myself up in someone else’s arms. Like they could make me better with every kiss. I thought that if I just dated hard enough, my problems would evaporate. Now I’m learning that other people can’t fix me. I need to do the fixing myself, preferably while single.

I’m learning to sit with loneliness. 

Loneliness can be painful, especially when I’ve avoided it at all costs for so long. Instead of running from it, though, I’m trying to make friends with loneliness. I’m starting to appreciate my own company when I’m not fighting so hard to be in someone else’s presence. The more I sit with it, the less scary the prospect of being alone becomes.

I’m done pushing my problem off until tomorrow.

For a long time, I told myself I’d deal with my dating and relationship problems “tomorrow.” Kind of like when there’s a diet that people tell themselves they’ll go on, tomorrow never came. I kept thinking I was young enough that I had time to deal with my issues, but this is nonsense. Now I’m dealing with them head-on. I’m doing the tough work necessary to grow as a person.

I’m finding meaning in other parts of my life.

Dating used to be everything to me. It was my savior, refuge, and joy. It was by far the most important part of my life. Now I’m finding meaning in other things like friendships, hobbies, work, and spiritual practices. When my meaning isn’t concentrated in one place it’s much harder to be let down. Instead, it’s spread out over all these things keeping me content.

I’m getting help.

I go to a 12-step group for sex and love and there I’m getting support on how to refrain from my old patterns. They’re also helping me create new patterns. The support means the world. It holds me together when I feel I’m going to fall apart and seeing others who have recovered gives me hope that I can recover one day, too.

I’m talking about my feelings.

Part of my problem was that I held things in before. I didn’t tell people the extent of my dating escapades because I knew I’d probably be judged or told to stop. To break the cycle of serial dating, I’m being open and honest. I’m sharing with safe people my feelings about my dating life and everything else. This is healing me because I can get feedback and I don’t feel so alone.

I’m learning that getting physical too soon messes me up.

When I do start dating again, I’m going to try with everything I have to take it all slower. I’m going to wait to get physical until I feel I know the person or when we’re in a committed relationship. Sleeping together too soon has resulted in my head going bonkers, so I’d like to stay level-headed.

I’m honing my intuition.

I spent a lot of time with people I shouldn’t have been with. Whether they were toxic or just not a good match for me, I let them into my life. There will be no more of this. I’m honing my intuition to pick up on red flags when they appear and to listen to them. I’m learning to listen to that quiet voice deep inside that says “not this person.”

I’m realizing I’m lovable and worthy.

Perhaps the most important way I’m breaking the cycle of serial dating is by realizing how lovable and worthy I am. I used to fundamentally believe that I was a broken and unlovable person. I don’t believe this anymore because I’ve learned that no matter what I do or don’t do, my worth remains the same.

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