Understanding Serial Monogamy
Updated December 12, 2018
Reviewer Kay Adkins, LPC
While many of your friends have been out having a good time, casually dating as many people as they can before they settle down, have you always been the one to be either in one long-term relationship or long-term relationship after long-term relationship? If so, then you may be a serial monogamist. Or you may be a serial dater. How can you know the difference?
The main difference is that a serial monogamist always wants to be in a relationship. If someone breaks up with you, do you go insane until you can be in another relationship again? Or, if you're the one to do the dumping, do you make sure you have someone lined up first before you break up with your current partner so that you will never have to be single? If so, then this is the classic definition of a serial monogamist. Taylor Swift is a good example of a serial monogamist.
A serial dater, on the other hand, is quite the opposite and runs far away from commitment. The serial dater is more likely to be dating several people at the same time, so as not to be tied down to any one person. And the people he or she is dating understand that it's nothing serious, that the serial dater is just going out to have fun, and has no intention of settling down anytime soon - the "player" if you will.
Signs That You May Be A Serial Monogamist
A serial monogamist, as mentioned above, is always in a relationship. If your friends in high school teased you that you were already married because you've been with your boyfriend or girlfriend for so long, and then teased you about the same thing with the next person, then you may be a serial monogamist. Being single makes you feel uncomfortable, and you can probably count on one hand the number of months you have ever been single in your life.
Serial monogamists are also guilty of talking about their exes, even when they're in a relationship with someone new. The reason for this is because, due to your relationships overlapping, you may not be giving yourself enough time to get over your ex before jumping headfirst into a new relationship. Everyone tells you that you shouldn't talk to your current partner about your former partner, but you find that you just can't help yourself. This is why.
Another sign you may be a serial monogamist is if you feel the most awkward attending social events without a partner. If you don't have a girlfriend or boyfriend, and you're invited to an event, you'd opt out of it, rather than face everyone alone. This makes sense, considering the reason why you may be a serial monogamist in the first place is that you detest the idea of being alone.
You also may be a serial monogamist if you find it absolutely impossible to have casual sex without it turning into something more. You'd much rather wake up to your partner making you breakfast, and then reading the paper to each other at the kitchen table, then waking up alone after a night of fiery lovemaking, You're more about the emotional connection, rather than the physical one. You may not even be able ever to see yourself enjoying a one-night stand.
Things To Know About Dating A Serial Monogamist
What happens if you're not the serial monogamist, but you find yourself dating someone who is? How do you prepare for that level of commitment right from the start? Well, you don't have to worry just yet about your partner getting down on one knee or planning names for the children you two will have together. There are a lot of benefits to dating a serial monogamist, rather than someone who enjoys playing the field.
Serial monogamists may sound like stage-5 clingers, but the reality is that they know exactly what can cause a relationship to end, and they refrain from doing those things. Serial monogamists tend to be more mature when it comes to dating, so they recognize when you need space, and when things need to cool off a little before they take the next step.
You may find the experience of dating a serial monogamist to be a relief from the kind of people you used to date. For one thing, a serial monogamist is not ready to throw in the towel just because you fought over something minor. Yelling at him over leaving the toilet seat up for the hundredth time is not going to cause him to pack up his stuff and walk out. You may find yourself saying that now you're dating a real "man" or a "woman."
For another, a serial monogamist is more intent on making sure that you're happy. That means that when it comes time for gifts, whether it's Valentine's Day or your anniversary, you're not going to get the same thing that everyone else is getting because it's "easier." The serial monogamist will go out of his or her way to get you something customized or personalized, something with meaning that you will treasure for years, rather than flowers that die, or chocolate that makes you fat or goes stale.
And guess what "making sure you're happy" extends to? That's right - sex. A serial monogamist may not have had as many relationships as his or her "player" friends, and yet s/he may be even better in the bedroom than those friends. Why? Because your partner takes the time to learn what makes you tick, and to do exactly what you want and need to keep you happy.
How Do You Know If Your Partner Is A Serial Dater?
Maybe you're back on the dating scene with the intention of finding a serial monogamist because you've had enough of serial daters. How would you be able to tell right off the bat that someone is a serial dater so that you can know before you get too involved, and finding that this person is not the right person for you?
For one thing, because serial daters want to do as much of that - serial dating - as possible, they may be incredibly impatient to take you out on that first date. A serial dater won't care that they don't know much about you before trying to whisk you away. And you'll know they won't know enough about you yet because you'll also barely know anything about them.
Charm is another thing to be careful of. If someone is an expert at being charming…it may be because they've had plenty of practice at it. When someone is trying to date as many people as possible, then he learns the finer points of being charming to get as many people to fall for them as possible. It may work on you too, and that's okay, so long as you recognize it for what it is and can walk away if it's not what you want.
Serial daters also avoid getting into anything too heavy - this includes meaningful conversation. If you find that all you talk about on your first date are shallow topics and that there isn't even a hint of anything that could be probed deeper to learn more about what makes that person truly tick, then he is probably keeping you at arms-length for a reason. If she doesn't ask you any in-depth questions either, then this is a sure sign that they are not interested in getting to know you as a person, but are more interested in living in the moment and having fun.
If he also focuses more on how you look, rather than admit how he truly feels about you, then this may be another sign that he is a serial dater. If someone feels strongly for you, it's not something they can just shut off. The reality is that they are trying not to fall too deeply for you because for them, it's not about commitment. And expressing their feelings for you is certainly one of the first signs of forging a deeper commitment.
Letting A Serial Dater Go
You may find it difficult to say goodbye to a serial dater. One of the most common reasons for this difficulty is because the sex is just so good. But of course, it would be. When you focus on the physical aspects of the relationship, then you don't have to delve too deep into anything else about it.
If you're fine with keeping your relationship physical until you tire of each other, that's one thing. But if you want something more than just the casual hook-up once a week, then you may want to consider moving on.
You can have sex that is just as fantastic - maybe even better - with a serial monogamist who truly cares about seeing to your needs and making you happy. Plus, you get all of the benefits that come from being with someone who wants to learn everything they can about you and solidify the foundation for what could be an enriching and wonderful future with you whether it ends in a committed relationship, or not.
Want to learn more about serial monogamy and serial dating? Reach out to one of our BetterHelp counselors for advice and more information.