What Is A Serial Monogamist?

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you commonly go from one monogamous relationship to the next, you may be familiar with the concept of serial monogamy and its potential downsides. However, some people who engage in these relationship habits do so without realizing it. 

Serial monogamy may stem from low self-esteem, a lack of experience with healthy relationships, and other factors that may skew one's perceptions of how to connect with others healthily. Understanding what might contribute to serial monogamy and how it may impact your relationships can help you adopt an approach to finding a partner that makes sense for your needs.

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What is a serial monogamist?

Perpetual monogamy, sometimes called "serial monogamy," refers to someone who is always in a relationship or frequently seeking a relationship. Often, the switches between relationships happen quickly and impulsively. 

While some people give themselves time to heal after a serious relationship breakup, a serial monogamist may instead prefer to meet a new partner and enter a new committed relationship immediately. Because they may go from having one strong romantic interest to another, they may not take time to process their breakup.  

How do you know if the person you're dating is a perpetual dater?

Below are some signs that the person you're dating may be a serial monogamist. 

Their relationships progress quickly 

If someone quickly says, "I love you," and takes other steps in a relationship that may seem disproportionately intense for the time you've been together, they may be a perpetual dater. However, moving quickly can also be a warning sign for several mental health conditions or an insecure attachment style.  

There's do gap between partners 

People who are serial monogamists may seem to be partnered at every moment or have a romantic interest if they aren't. In some cases, it may seem like they don't get to know new partners before progressing to more serious stages of the relationship. For example, they might post about wanting to get engaged a few months into a new relationship after having been engaged multiple times in the past. 

They focus primarily on romantic bonds 

Someone who is a serial dater may be fixated on love, often transpiring to the extent that it disrupts maintaining connections with loved ones. They may neglect friends and family members to date or spend time with their new partner. Codependency may also occur within their romantic relationships.

Is serial dating intentional? 

Although there can be downsides to serial monogamy, a person may not partake in this behavior deliberately or out of malice. Often, an individual's attachment style, difficulty with self-esteem, or fear of abandonment can play a role in why they may seek out rapidly paced, back-to-back partnerships. These patterns may connect to a mental health condition, traumatic event, or family pattern. Whether these behaviors connect with you or someone else you know, try not to feel shame about it, as these patterns can change with behavioral work. If you date people back to back out of fear of being alone or unloved, discussing these fears with a professional may help you break your pattern.


Why is serial dating unhealthy? 

People have different wants, needs, and expectations from relationships. Whether you seek multiple short-term, long-term, casual, or serious serial relationships, your patterns don't necessarily mean something is wrong with you. However, looking at the potential risks of dating partners back-to-back may be helpful, including the following. 

Relationships may not be genuine 

If you are focused on finding a new partner and getting to experience the sensations that a romantic interest gives you rather than authentically seeking a partner, you may end up with people who aren't compatible with you. Because of the intensity of the beginning stages of love, you might not realize that you aren't compatible until you're in a serious relationship with them.

You might crave a strong, genuine connection. However, check in with yourself and ensure you aren't searching for the feelings that a new relationship gives you more than you seek someone you bond with. If you're chasing or romanticizing the idea and sensation of being with someone new or feeling loved more than the person themself, you may be looking for or are in a relationship for the wrong reasons.

You may not get to know someone enough 

Whether you seek a relationship or the feelings that entering a new relationship brings, perpetual or serial monogamy can mean rushing into a partnership before you get to know the other person. Ask yourself whether a significant quantity of your relationships have been intense from the start. 

You may have entered multiple relationships to find out that the other person wasn't who you created in your mind. If you relate, it may be a sign to take a relationship slowly next time. It can be healthy to date multiple people before finding someone you're compatible with. 

You might not have time to get to know yourself 

Specific patterns may take time away from friends and family. However, they can also take time away from yourself. When you enter relationships out of the fear of being single, losing yourself in the process is possible. 

You might get into this situation if you try to please other people, be who they want you to be, or fixate on their needs above your own. Emotional reliance on the other person could become a concern. You may rely on the other person's emotions to determine your feelings. In addition, if you haven't been single for years or decades, you might not have given yourself time to find out what you like on your own.
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Support options 

Being a serial monogamist doesn't necessarily mean you can't find committed, serious, or long-term partnerships. However, if you notice the signs above, having someone to talk to and work through patterns, fears, and situations related to romance may help. There may be unresolved challenges under the surface to release before you're ready to date.  

If you face barriers to finding in-person therapeutic support, online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp may also be beneficial. An online platform lets you see a therapist independently or talk to a provider with a partner. Additionally, having more options than locally available may make it easier to switch providers if the first person you see is not a match.  

Research suggests online therapy can help clients address mental health challenges and relationship conflict. One study found that many clients who engaged in online therapy with their romantic partners found they could divulge more to their therapists through an online medium. The distance of an online session may make it easier to open up, discuss challenging topics, and work through the underlying concerns that can lead to perpetual monogamy.

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Some people strive to be in a fulfilling relationship to the point that they seek it out no matter the cost. If patterns in your dating life cause you more stress than joy or impact your life in another way, a qualified mental health provider can help you understand why. Take the first step to fulfilling relationships with yourself and others by seeking support.
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