What Is A Serial Monogamist?

By William Drake|Updated March 29, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Kay Adkins, LPC

What Is A Serial Monogamist?

While many of your friends have been out casually dating, meeting new people, and perhaps even taking time to explore or boost confidence in themselves as a single person before they settle down, have you always been in serious relationship after serious relationship? If so, and especially if there’s an unhealthy component to why this is the case, it could be serial monogamy. What are the downsides to this, and when does it become a potential problem? How does serial monogamy vary in comparison to other monogamous relationships? We can help explain the difference.

How To Know If You May Be A Constant Relationship Seeker

Perpetual monogamy typically includes someone who is always in a relationship or who is always seeking a relationship. In fact, the number one sign, and the definition of what it means to be a “serial monogamist” or “serial relationship-seeker” in the first place, is that you don’t like being alone romantically to the extent that you enter new, serious relationships back-to-back. One of the reasons why this can be a problem is that it happens unhealthily fast with little to no time in between said partnerships. While many people tend to take some time to heal after a breakup in a serious relationship, this may not be the case or goal for you. You may instead prefer to meet another partner and enter a strong, close, committed relationship right away. Additionally, because you may go from having one strong romantic interest to another, you may not take the time needed to process breakups. 

How Do You Know If the Person You're Dating Is A Perpetual Dater?

A perpetual (serial) monogamist differs from other monogamous relationships. Monogamy simply means that you have one partner at a time and are exclusive with that person. Here are some of the possible signs that someone has a tendency towards being a serial monogamist:

  • You notice that their relationships progress quickly. They are fast to say, “I love you” and take other steps in a relationship that seem disproportionately intense for the duration of time they’ve been dating someone. 
  • They don’t have much of a gap between dating new partners. It seems that they are always partnered or have a strong romantic interest. In some cases, it may seem like they don’t get to know new partners very well before progressing to more serious stages of the relationship.
  • Their romantic relationships may take substantial time away from other social bonds. They may feel somewhat fixated on love, and this may even transpire to an extent that it’s disruptive to maintaining connections with loved ones. 

If these factors are an ongoing pattern in a person's relationships, they could be considered a serial monogamist. People in a person's life outside of romantic partners may or may not notice or comment on these patterns. Codependency, on some level or in some form, may also occur within their romantic relationships.

Note that, although there can be downsides and difficulties when it comes to serial monogamy, this is not something a person does out of malice. One may feel hurt frequently from their partnerships and the patterns at hand. Often, things like their attachment style, difficulty with self-esteem, or fear of abandonment plays a role in why a person tends to seek out rapidly paced, back-to-back partnerships. Some of these patterns may even have a connection to a mental health concern or condition, negative events in one’s past, or something else, depending on the person. Whether this sounds like you or someone else you know, know that it’s nothing to feel shame about, and that it is possible for this pattern to change.

Difficulties Of Dating In This Way

Everybody has different wants, needs, and expectations from a relationship. So, whether you are someone who seeks short-term relationship after short-term relationship, long-term relationship after a long-term relationship, who dates casually, or who dates in another fashion, we are not here to judge. However, what are the potential risks that can come with being a serial monogamist? These are some possibilities to consider:

Relationships Could Be Less Genuine

If the focus is on finding a new partner and getting to experience the sensations that a romantic interest gives you rather than authentically seeking a partner, it is a possibility that your relationships could be less genuine. This might not even be something you realize at the time. For many, it’s not. It’s also not likely your intention, and perhaps it’s not at all what you want at the end of the day. You might really crave a strong, genuine connection. 
Check in with yourself and make sure that you aren’t searching for the feelings that a new relationship gives you more than you are seeking someone you bond with. If you’re chasing or romanticizing the idea and sensation of being with someone new, the sensation of feeling loved and secure, of being with someone, and those thoughts and feelings outweigh actually enjoying the person themselves and building a strong bond with them, then it’s possible that you’re looking for or are in a relationship for the wrong reasons. 

You May Rush In Before You Really Know Someone

Whether you seek a relationship or the feelings that entering a new relationship brings, perpetual or serial monogamy can mean that you rush into a partnership before you really get to know the other person. It’s one thing to talk often, but have a large quantity of your relationships been intense? Did you enter a relationship quickly and then find out things that surprised you about the other person? Perhaps, things that you didn’t like about them, or that weren’t compatible with what you need? Did the relationship then fall off, leading you to seek a new one? This could be a sign that it is time to take things more slowly the next time you pursue a partnership. 

It May Take Time Away From Getting To Know Yourself

We talked a little bit about how these patterns could take away time from friends and family, but this is only one potential concern when it comes to the allocation of your energy. Sometimes, when you enter relationships out of the fear of being single versus a healthy bond that just happens to take off, it is possible to lose yourself in romantic relationships. This is a particular concern if you find yourself in situations where you are trying to please other people, be what you think they want you to be, or in which you feel like you are actually experiencing fixation related to the relationship or relationships you’re in. This isn’t always the case, but it can happen. 

Am I A Serial Monogamist?

This is also, possibly, where emotional reliance on the other person could become a concern. You may rely on how the relationship is going or the other person to regulate or determine how you feel. Again, it’s not always the case, but it is a possibility, and it can be harmful.

Consider Talking About Your Dating Habits With Someone

None of this is to say that people should not seek out committed, serious, or long-term partnerships. However, if you notice any of the signs of serial or perpetual monogamy listed in this article in yourself, having someone to talk to and work through patterns, fears, and situations related to romance may help. Under the surface, there could be something to address, and you may feel more content, or even more confident when you do. Having a therapist or counselor that is a good match for us is something that all of us can benefit from. It’s very possible to have relationships that are secure, evenly paced, and overall healthy. A mental health professional can help you work toward this as well as other possible goals you might have.

The providers at BetterHelp are here to listen, discuss, and help you make progress on a variety of relationship issues as well as other concerns that may have an impact on you, the way you feel, and your life. BetterHelp is an affordable online therapy, or e-counseling, platform with a range of providers who are experienced, unique, and licensed. You can see a therapist on your own for sessions, or you can see someone with a partner. Additionally, you can switch independent providers at any time if the first person you see is not a good match. Regardless of whether you select a remote option like BetterHelp for your counseling needs or find a provider who works with the concerns you want to focus on in an area near you, you deserve relief. 

Below are some BetterHelp therapist reviews from people experiencing similar relationship matters.

Therapist Reviews

"Andrea has been nothing short of wonderful since I started counseling with her. She always makes me feel heard and validated, while at the same time challenging me to question the way I think about and react to different situations. She is thoughtful, caring, and nonjudgmental. I have seen a huge difference in myself, my relationships, and my happiness since I started working with her."
"Dr. Ciraky has proven to be an excellent sounding board and has provided tools to work through my relationship issues. He has been insightful and given me things to think about to direct me in my decision-making process. I would highly recommend him."

Conclusion: What Is A Serial Monogamist

Many people strive to be in a fulfilling relationship, and this is absolutely possible. If patterns in your dating life cause inner distress, external distress, or impact your life in another way, a qualified mental or behavioral health provider can help you get to the place you want to be. Take the first step to fulfilling relationships with yourself and others today.
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