Dating in College as a Serial Monogamist

Hello, My name is Maddie… and I am a recovering serial monogamist.  Although this sounds like the beginning of an alcoholics anonymous meeting, I am not talking about booze-- I'm talking about boys. They can be equally as destructive, addictive and let’s admit it, fun. For those who do not know, serial monogamy is a term referring to the desire to want to be in relationships, jumping from one significant other to the next, without much time alone or dating around.

I have always loved being a girlfriend and investing my time into one meaningful, strong connection. And, I loved not having to face the anxieties of being single: going on to dinner with new guys who would make me nervous, searching for dates to events, that entire fragile period of dating when you decide whether you want to pursue something or not, or when you feel as if you can not be your true self. I thought, "How do I even explain who I am to someone new"? After all, in a relationship, my boyfriend already knew me. He knew I did not like pineapple on my pizza, that I am a dreadful dancer (but a mad lip-syncer), and that I get sad sometimes. But, my addiction to stable relationships lead me to stay in one far past its expiration date.

So, beginning my second year of college, I decided to make a change: to stop falling into the safety of relationship after relationship. Here is how it is going, and what I have learned so far:

There are so many great people out there, but you have to put effort into meeting them.

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The thing about being in a relationship is that you only really talk to one person, generally. Even if you have a lively social life, there are always unspoken limitations out of respect of your significant other. I always felt like there was no one out there like my boyfriend, but the truth is, I just did not put in the effort to get to know anyone else. Of course that guy talking to you nervously at a party will not seem as great as your boyfriend is; you do not know him! The love of your life is not just going to break into your house and join you on the couch, girls; you gotta go find him. Putting in the work to meet people can really show you, as it has shown me, that there are so many opportunities for experiences, friendships and relationships.

College dating can be way less stressful than maintaining a relationship.

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I do not have to worry about dedicating time to a demanding boyfriend, dealing with emotional trauma of fights or any of the other stresses that maintaining a relationship entails. I can do whatever I please, whether it is leaving on a spontaneous road trip, grinding hard all night at the library or hitting some clubs with my girls.

Although your anxiety about dating is justified, your fears are not necessarily correct.

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I was terrified of dating; none of the rules made any sense to me. What is the difference between talking, having a 'thing', dating or becoming boyfriend/girlfriend? Why are there so many steps? How do you tell if it is a hook-up or if it is more than that? I know it can be very intimidating, but do not let that scare you into jumping from relationship to relationship without finding the best person for you. The truth is, in my experience at least, when you begin to be involved with someone, these questions often answer themselves. Although modern dating culture can be annoyingly ambiguous, everyone is doing it--and so can you! Maybe everyone is just a little confused and just trying to find what they are looking for.

Having time to work on yourself can lead better people into your life.

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Being alone has pushed me to look at who I am, both the good and the bad. As I continue to work on myself, I see better and better people coming into my life. I think this also means that the next person I date will be better, as will the relationship itself, since my unhealthy habits have been reduced. And now I am dating because I want to, not just because I am lonely. Spending time being single can also help you to decide what and who you want, showing you that you do not have to fall into a relationship with one of the first people who offer.

Sometimes you have to find happiness in yourself instead of in someone else.

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I am completely guilty of trying to find happiness in others. I love the feeling of butterflies when you begin falling for someone new, the warmth of being held, and the security in someone being there to talk to at the end of the night. But sometimes you just have to be happy on your own. Find happiness in your passions, your friends, and in the details of your day to day life instead of in the stability of a relationship.

You can do this.

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A lot of women who find themselves slipping from one relationship into the next are scared of dating, or more often, rejection. We cling to someone who we know will be there at the end of each day and will not reject us. But the idea of rejection is a lot worse in abstract than it is in reality. So what if you get left on 'read' while texting? So what if this date is not "the one?" Dating is about finding the person that best compliments you and what you need, whether that is a long term partner, a hook-up or even a “We’ll just see how it goes!"

Yes, dating can be messy, awkward and confusing. But staying out of a relationship and simply dating, at least for a little while, can improve your friendships, confidence and college experience. College is all about meeting new people, discovering yourself, and finding happiness, and maybe the way to do that is to see what is out there.