Are You Dating a Serial Monogamist? How to Tell and What It Means


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The phrase serial monogamist is often tossed around to jokingly describe that friend of yours who always seems to be in a relationship. It’s not just that they stay in one long relationship, it’s that they continuously bounce from one to the next.

What Is a Serial Monogamist?

A serial monogamist may feel most comfortable in committed relationships. They might have a series of monogamous relationships and may not take breaks between relationships to be single or to casually date.

But doesn’t this just describe how dating works today? Meaning, we meet someone, we commit to each other for a while, and then we move on when it stops working? “Remember, not that long ago, a commitment to marriage meant a relationship had to last about 20 to 30 years. Now, as life expectancy has extended, that commitment is twice as long. That scares people,” said psychologist Vivian Diller, Ph.D. It might explain why some people would rather have a string of long-term relationships than invest in one.

Meet the Expert

On top of longevity, many of the cultural values that fostered monogamy such as religion and family ties may not be as impactful today. And, don’t even get us started on the availability of casual dating, thanks to the myriad of dating apps now in play. So if you’re ready to settle down once and for all, what are you to do? Diller and Harriet Pappenheim, LCSW, BCD, shared their insights to help you weed out the serial monogamists from the serious dating candidates.

Signs You're Dating a Serial Monogamist

They have a history of long-term relationships.

While a serial monogamist likely has never been married or engaged, they do tend to have a history of long-term relationships. “They enjoy deepening a relationship and getting close with others, rather than keeping things casual and light,” Diller explained. This doesn’t mean you should jump ship anytime you’re with someone who has had multiple previous serious relationships, but the experts recommended being wary of a pattern of temporary commitment.

They lack independence.

Pappenheim said that living with parents or with multiple roommates may be a sign of a serial monogamist. While living with roommates is often required when living in a big city with skyrocketing rent prices, if you’re dating someone who lives at home or with too many roommates, this could be a red flag. “[It’s] as if they were still in college,” said Pappenheim. A person who is looking to settle down likely doesn’t need their parents to support them or multiple roommates to make rent and keep them entertained.

They show no interest in meeting your family

Diller suggested that serial monogamists tend to have strong family ties of their own, but your significant other should also have an interest in your family and personal relationships. Pappenheim listed a lack of interest in meeting their partner’s family as one sign that might make you question your partner’s intentions.

They are unconcerned with your relationship history.

If you’re seeing someone who has little interest in learning about your past relationships, they might be a serial monogamist. “They are on a superficial ride,” said Pappenheim. Part of being in a meaningful relationship is understanding your partner’s past and learning from it as you move toward a future together. Someone who doesn’t care to learn about what you’ve been through may not be ready for the long term.

Their goals are exclusively career-oriented.

There is nothing wrong with being driven and passionate about your career. However, the issue here stems from a lack of interest in other parts of life besides work. According to Pappenheim, a serial monogamist is likely to only discuss career goals, not goals about family or more personal aspirations. “They talk about the future, but with that awareness, there are challenges ahead,” said Diller.

They are indifferent to your opinions.

One sign you can look out for is if your partner is uninterested in your views. If they don’t seem to care about your opinions on politics, religion, or any topic that is of importance to you, you might question their intentions. Your values are what make you who you are, and it’s important to find a partner who engages with you in these subjects and cares about what you think.

They get caught up in the moment.

Pappenheim and Diller both suggested that a serial monogamist tends to bring intensity and passion for a time, but that this will not last. “Although they may be very seductive, sensual, and intimate, it goes no further than the temporary romance,” Pappenheim said. Of course, passion and intensity are essential to a relationship, but it can be problematic if this is the only grounding of your relationship when you’re looking for someone who’s in it for the long haul. “They bring an intensity to current relationships that are enjoyable while it lasts, but it is often unsustainable, so they move on,” Diller explained.

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