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Sunday, July 19, 2020

Understanding Serial Monogamists - Part 1

There are many different types of relationships: traditional monogamous relationships, polyamorous relationships, relationships that are mostly monogamous but allow for occasional sexual encounters with other people, and so on.  I'm focusing on a particular type of relationship dynamic in this article, which is serial monogamy (see my article:  Dating vs Being in a Relationship).

Understanding Serial Monogamists
What is a Serial Monogamist?
Serial monogamists often have many of the following characteristics:
  • They want and need the comfort of being in a committed relationship--often from the start of dating someone.
  • They're usually emotionally intense about being in a relationship right from the beginning.  They're not into casual dating or dating different people at the same time.
  • They need and expect a new romantic partner to bring the same level of intensity and commitment to the relationship as they do. 
  • They expect a high degree of loyalty from their new romantic partner because they're usually loyal people.
  • Due to their need to feel comfortable and secure in a relationship, they often want to jump ahead 6-12 months when the relationship is more established and settled.
  • They usually don't like to be alone. They like having someone around all the time--whether it's a relative, a roommate or a romantic partner. They crave company. This often means they haven't matured or developed psychologically as adults because they can't tolerate being alone.
  • They usually go from one relationship to the next rather than mourning the loss of the previous relationship, understanding what went wrong or looking at their patterns of being in a relationship.  This means they often bring their emotional baggage from the last relationship into the new relationship. Often, they're looking to get into a new relationship as soon as the last one ends without being on their own.
  • They have a tendency to spend a lot of time talking about their ex with their new partner, often without even realizing it, because they haven't taken the time to deal with the end of the last relationship.
Knowing What You Want From a New Romantic Partner
There's nothing right or wrong about serial monogamy.

On the one hand, if two people get together and they're both serial monogamists, this might feel comfortable to both people because they know they both want to be in a committed relationship right from the beginning.

But even when both people feel the same way, as previously mentioned, they might get into a new relationship without really knowing the other person.  This often means they're not taking the time to get to know the person they're with because they don't go through a dating phase--they just jump right into being in a relationship.

They skip ahead in their mind to a time that's usually further along in a relationship because they need the comfort and security of an established relationship. This often means that they see what they need in the other person, which can be very different from the reality.  This can lead to disappointments when the reality becomes apparent (see my article: Falling In Love With the Fantasy Rather Than the Reality).

As previously mentioned, they also unknowingly bring emotional baggage from the prior relationship into the current relationship because they haven't mourned the end of that relationship or learned from it.  They have just gone on to the next person without dealing with the loss.

Since people who go directly from one relationship to the next haven't mourned the loss of the last relationship, they're often mentally preoccupied with the last person--without even realizing it.  It can be annoying and frustrating for the new person to keep hearing about an ex.

In addition, since serial monogamists often haven't grown psychologically because they're uncomfortable with being alone and they're so emotionally dependent on others, two people who are serial monogamists bring a level of immaturity into the relationship.  Not only do they not grow as individuals, but the relationship often doesn't grow, so it can feel stagnant and boring after a while.

On the other hand, if you're someone who likes to take their time to date and get to know someone, you're probably going to feel pressured by a serial monogamist who wants a commitment immediately--often during what's usually considered the dating phase.  In fact, there might not be a dating phase in the mind of a serial monogamist.

Also, since someone who tends to be a serial monogamist doesn't like to be alone, you might find this person to be emotionally and physically clingy, especially if you're someone who likes their alone or down time.  It might be possible for the two of you to negotiate this time together versus time apart, but this is usually a challenge for both people (see my article: Relationships: Time Together vs Time Apart).

If you're someone who needs to have other important relationships or time to indulge in other interests or hobbies, you might feel pressured by a serial monogamist who wants most, if not all, of your time.  Often, these relationships don't work out in the long run because one person feels s/he isn't getting enough of the partner's time and the other person feels stifled (see my article: Relationships: Your Spouse Can't Meet All Your Needs).

There is no right or wrong here.  It really depends on what you want from a relationship.

I'll continue discussing the issue of serial monogamy in my next article with an example of this type of relationship (see my article: Understanding Serial Monogamists - Part 2).

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

I am currently providing teletherapy, which is also known as online therapy, telemental health or telehealth (see my article: The Advantages of Online Therapy).

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.













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