Being in a relationship brings about all those butterfly feelings at first, and over time, it creates a sense of security and belonging. But, while being with someone can be fulfilling and beautiful, relationships can become something to obsess over when you’re a serial monogamist. Here is what it’s like to be in love with relationships and go from one serious one to the next.
- A serial monogamist can’t be alone. No one really wants to be alone, and we all need a support system. But, there’s something to be said for being able to be by yourself and feel totally happy. People who don’t mind being single, or even love being single, often learn to date themselves and love who they are outside of their connection with another person. It’s challenging when you realize that you go from one relationship to the next because being alone is scary. While not everyone who dates a lot can’t be alone, it’s a common problem for the serial monogamist.
- You only feel confident with a partner. Self-confidence is key, but it’s easy to rely on another person to give you a boost and make you feel loved. While we all need to hear that people around us care about us, being able to feel great about yourself completely as a single person is an admirable trait. A serial monogamist has the tendency to only feel they’re worthy of love when they’re dating, and this can impact self-confidence over time.
- It can be a negative thing for other relationships. One downside many people don’t realize about loving romantic relationships is that you tend to push other kinds of relationships to the side. Some people are better at painting a balance, but it’s easy to prioritize the romantic partnership over all else. Then, when the relationship ends, instead of finding support from friends and family members, it’s easy to turn around and find a new romantic relationship to get lost in. The ups and downs of being a serial monogamist can push other people away, which makes you feel a bit lonely.
- You love the idea of love. Many people have heard the phrase that someone is in love with the idea of love or of being in love, but while it might be a cliche, this is often true for serial monogamists. There’s something so romantic about the concept of love and all that comes with it. The flowers and hearts. Getting to know someone. They wake up in the morning and watch their face as they sleep. But, while being a romantic isn’t a bad thing, it can be when you’re more in love with love than with the person you’re with.
- It’s easy to see people as placeholders. When you’ve dated a lot of people seriously, you forget what being single is like and sometimes aren’t sure if you really even like being with someone all the time. But, it’s easy to just see each person as filling a role as you start to feel like you need a relationship and a partner to be happy.
More struggles of being a serial monogamist
- You aren’t sure what you really like. When you’re dating someone, you develop your interests and what you like to do as a couple. Sometimes you do like a lot of the same things, but other times you have to compromise. It’s a challenge to know what your true likes and dislikes are when you start picking up things from each relationship. So, while being in a relationship is comforting, it’s easy to feel consumed by the other person when you’re a serial monogamist.
- Sometimes, no relationship measures up to the ideal in our heads. Movies and television set up a high standard of romance, especially for women who grew up watching iconic rom coms. When you go from one relationship to the next, you often love love, but it’s easy to feel disappointed when things aren’t like the fairytale in your head.
- You’re intense but your relationships may lack depth. Because you’re always seeking the next big thing as a serial monogamist, you have a tendency to go in full force even though there’s no real emotion behind it. “Although they may be very seductive, sensual, and intimate, it goes no further than the temporary romance,” relationship therapist Harriet Pappenheim, LCSW, BCD, says of the serial monogamist. Psychologist Vivian Diller, Ph.D., adds: “They bring an intensity to current relationships that are enjoyable while it lasts, but it is often unsustainable, so they move on.”
- There’s always an adventure partner. While there are some downsides to being a serial monogamist, there are some positives too. When you’re dating someone, you have a person you can call on to experience life with you. Having a partner to do things with doesn’t mean you have to go on huge adventures to new cities or go on extensive hiking in the wilderness. It just means you have someone to keep you company for even the small things like running errands or even getting ready for the day.
- You get a lot of dating experience. It’s not necessarily right or wrong to date a lot or to date a little. Some people have many opportunities to date while others don’t or don’t even want to. But, when you’ve been a serial monogamist, you get a ton of experience in love and romance. You start to learn more about what you want out of a relationship and what actually makes you happy.
A few things to consider if you’re a serial monogamist
- It may be masking a deeper fear. While you might convince yourself that because you’re only with one person at a time, you have a healthy grasp on relationships, but that may not be the case. “Remember, not that long ago, a commitment to marriage meant a relationship had to last about 20 to 30 years. Now, as life expectancy has extended, that commitment is twice as long. That scares people,” says psychologist Vivian Diller, Ph.D. In other words, you could have a string of relationships because the idea of only having one for the rest of your life is kind of terrifying.
- You’re keeping yourself from finding real love. “Serial monogamy is a half-assed way to find love. If you wind up with a new boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner every few months, that isn’t good,” sexologist Gigi Engle writes for mbg. “It means you have poor taste. It means you’re looking to find someone to complete you, when what you need is to complete yourself. You’re looking for a missing piece that you will never find because the missing piece cannot be set in place by another human.” When you’re a serial monogamist, you need to focus on quality rather than quantity.
- Ultimately, being a serial monogamist is a pattern you should try to break. Engle advises: “I get it—you might be so great that people just want to date you all the time, but that isn’t an excuse. You don’t have to date every single person who wants to date you. You shouldn’t need that kind of validation. We think if someone shows interest in us, we should say yes and we should be so grateful to have secured that attention. Learn how to say no and wait for something that is truly worth your time.”