We all know that friend who hasn’t been single in, perhaps, her entire life. It might even be you, who knows? Typically that person doesn’t know that she’s a serial monogamist. Like Taylor Swift, she just thinks she falls in love easily. But we all know, it’s much more than that.
But first things first: what’s the difference between a serial monogamist and a serial dater? We enlisted the help of Stephan Labossiere, certified relationship expert and author of How to Get a Woman to Have Sex With You… If You’re Her Husband. “A serial monogamist always wants to be in a relationship,” says Stephan. “A serial dater is not trying to take it that far. A serial monogamist is seeing only one person at a time, while the dater can be seeing multiple people at one time. A monogamist embraces commitment, while the dater is not trying to be tied down.”
So how do you spot a serial monogamist? How do you know if you are one? Her Campus has the signs to look out for!
Sign #1: You’re always in a relationship.
Of all the signs that you’re a serial monogamist, this is probably the most obvious. Whether it’s a 5-week fling or a 3-year love, you’re never without a boyfriend.
“I’m a senior in college, and I have been single for probably a total of a month of my dating life,” says Ally*, a student from the University of Illinois. “I know it’s weird, but I love having a boyfriend. I am really uncomfortable being single.”
While some college “relationships” are loosely defined, serial monogamists’ relationships are not. Regardless of all the other things going on in your life, you want a commitment. “It’s a distraction from the real issues that need to be addressed,” says Stephan.
“I’m not the kind of girl who has a bunch of insignificant flings, though,” Ally says. “I’ve dated most of my boyfriends for at least a year or more.” Serial monogamy is not one long-term relationship, however. Rather, it is a series of dating commitments.
Sign #2: You still talk about your exes even when you’re in a new relationship with someone else.
When most people enter a new relationship, the object of their affection consumes their lives for a period of time. And while that’s probably true for most serial monogamists as well, they still can’t get their exes out of their head. “When you don’t take time to heal, you take baggage into the next relationship,” says Stephan. “You may not truly be over your ex, and you are just hoping a new person helps you move on.”
“I definitely feel like I continue to obsess about my old boyfriends even when I’m dating someone new,” says Meg*, a collegiette at the University of Iowa. “I wonder if they’re still thinking about me and how much of an impact our relationship had on them. That’s especially true if they start dating someone new soon after our breakup.”
Serial monogamists like to believe that their relationships are some of the strongest they, and their partners, will ever have. Stephan says that because of this, they become consumed by their relationships even after they’ve ended.
Sign #3: Your hook-ups always become serious commitments.
While the majority of college girls can probably say they’ve had a casual hook-up at one point or another, serial monogamists generally cannot. “This is because you aren’t really a hook-up type of person,” says Stephan. “You like the stability of a relationship. You can try to play the game all you want, but it isn’t your true desire.”
“I have definitely never had a random hook-up,” says Meg. “If I hook up with someone, we are then on the path to dating. I don’t like the casual thing.” What Meg says rings true for many serial monogamists. Hooking up is typically a part of dating, which is why serial monogamists refuse to hook up without some semblance of a commitment or the hope of one.
“I would never hook up with someone I wasn’t serious about dating,” Ally says. “I will stay in touch with a guy if I hook up with him to try to make something happen.” Clearly, a hook-up is not always just a hook-up.
Sign #4: You can’t stand to attend social functions single.
There are times in nearly everyone’s life when you are invited to something, or want to attend an event, and no one you know will be there. The easiest solution to this problem is to go alone and make the best of it, but serial monogamists would never go to a party without a boyfriend on their arm.
“One of the best parts about always having a boyfriend is never havingto be alone,” says Gina*, a student at Syracuse University. “I will not go to something if I have to go alone, but that usually isn’t a problem because I always have a boyfriend to bring with me.”
“Being alone in general is uncomfortable for serial monogamists,” says Stephan. “This is an extension of some deeper issues at hand.” He says that having a boyfriend eliminates that stress, which only perpetuates the cycle.
Sign #5: Your friends are over your “new relationship.”
Oftentimes, your friends are the people happiest for you when you enter into a new relationship with a great guy. But having seen you do so a number of times, they’re done being happy for you. They miss their friend who could party with them on a Thursday night or stay in on Saturday to watch a string of chick flicks.
“I feel like I lost some friends always having a boyfriend,” says Gina. “I spend most of my time with whoever my boyfriend is and neglect my friends, I guess. Plus, they were offended when I tried to fix them up with people, even though I was trying to include them.”
Your friends want you to be happy, but they also want some of your time and attention. If you notice that they’re trying less and less to hang out with you because of your commitment to dating, then you might be a serial monogamist. “It’s hard for your friends because it looks unstable, and nobody likes to be around that,” says Stephan. “They know it isn’t best for you, but they want to give you freedom. Ultimately, it wears on them and gives off too much negative energy.”
What does it mean if I’m a serial monogamist?
Stephan goes on to say that being a serial monogamist can be detrimental in college and the girls we spoke to all seemed to have negative experiences with serial monogamy. “There are deeper issues that are not being tended to,” Stephan says. “Not to mention that all these relationships and all that comes with it (arguments, time, energy, focus, disappointments) can have a negative impact on you. One way or another, you will pay a price, either now or in the long run.”
So you’re now probably wondering, what do I do if I am a serial monogamist? Stephan recommends that you recognize it for what it is. If you try to justify the behavior, it’s only serving as a way for you to dismiss the need for change. “There is a reason you feel the need to jump from relationship to relationship,” says Stephan. “That needs to be addressed. It isn’t healthy behavior. We have to go deep within ourselves to understand and address the things we do on the surface.”
Stephan does not believe there is a healthy way to be a serial monogamist, although it is very common for people to feel the need to be in a relationship at all times. “Most of us yearn for that companionship and find fulfillment through it,” says Stephan. “We just have to learn to take the focus off finding a relationship and instead focus on finding the best person for us. You can’t expect Mr. Right to find you when you have yet to find yourself, though. Serial monogamy is a crutch, not a cure. Focus on becoming the woman you truly need to be and allow yourself to receive the relationship you deserve.”
*Some names have been changed