From the time I was in high school, I’ve gone through boyfriends like pairs of jeans. I started out every year with a new guy in my life and ended it with a totally different one. In fact, I can’t recall a time I was ever truly single. While I never thought I’d meet a guy who’d make me want to stay, I actually have, and I’m pretty sure I have my history as a serial dater to thank.
I gained a clearer picture of what I wanted in a partner. I’ve dated dozens of guys over the years and while I think this was probably not the best thing for my emotional and mental well-being, it has had the upside of clarifying what I’m looking for in a long-term partner. I feel like the more guys you date, the more you get to know what you want and what you don’t and eventually you find your perfect match. At least, that’s what happened to me.
My toxic guy radar improved immensely. A huge percentage of the guys I dated were never actually serious boyfriends. They either wanted to smash and dash, were secretly dating other girls, or were only taking me for a test drive. I can’t exactly blame them—dating losers comes with the territory of being a serial dater. Thankfully, my toxic a-hole radar has improved over the years after dating so many of them, and now I’m much better at spotting the good ones. That’s how I found my soulmate.
I ditched the fairy tale ending and unrealistic expectations. No, I don’t expect my boyfriend to be perfect. I know he’s going to make mistakes just like I will—we’re human. I feel like people with limited dating history have all these unrealistic standards and expectations of their partners and relationships. Real life is way messier than Disney movies and rom-coms would have you believe, and so much better too. I definitely learned that over the years as I dated more and more guys.
I’ve recognized the importance of family. A lot of my exes have introduced me to their families and I’ve basically experienced every possible personality, from overprotective moms and nonchalant dads to bratty little sisters and overly invasive brothers. Since I knew I was never going to end up with these guys, it didn’t really matter that I wasn’t crazy about their families. However, I know that if I’m going to stay with a guy long-term, we need to mesh well. I immediately did with my boyfriend’s family, and that’s one of the reasons I know he’s a keeper.
I stopped entertaining guys who weren’t on my wavelength. Life moves pretty quickly for a serial dater; usually you’re meeting new people, spending a little time getting to know them, and then you’re onto the next. Eventually, this fast-paced cycle bleeds into everyday life. My shortest relationships were with guys who just couldn’t keep up and weren’t on the same page as me. I need someone who’s ready to be my partner in crime, not my crutch. My current boyfriend challenges me, and that’s exactly what I need.
I don’t need someone to complete me anymore. While I never allowed myself to lean on or be vulnerable in front of any of the guys I dated, I do realize that there must’ve been something in me that felt like I needed a guy in my life in order to be complete. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been a serial dater. It wasn’t until I met my soulmate that I realized I’m actually complete on my own. He doesn’t make me a whole person because I’m already one. He’s not a necessity, he’s a perk.
I stopped lying. Serial dating requires a lot of lying. Usually, I’d say I was too busy to date a particular guy, seeing someone else, or that I was moving to another country in a few months. It wasn’t fun, but the persistent dudes who didn’t really pick up on my social cues wouldn’t take no for an answer. When I met my current boyfriend, I didn’t have to lie anymore. We respected one another’s lives and boundaries from the beginning and have a much better relationship because of it.
I realized that comfortable doesn’t always mean boring. When I was a serial dater, I was pretty much always the one ending things. I made an excuse for how bored I was with all of them because I couldn’t accept that getting to know someone and growing comfortable with them didn’t have to be boring and could actually be really comforting and exciting instead. Had I not learned this lesson, I would never have met my soulmate.
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