Get to Know Serial Monogamy
Just one of the many lifestyle choices regarding relationships, serial monogamy is the practice of having one exclusive relationship after another, often knowing that each has an eventual end point. Monogamy is generally considered a positive and desirable aspect of a relationship, as the goal is total commitment between two people.
However, where lifelong monogamists find “the one” and stay with them, serial monogamists have several relationships in a lifetime and keep moving on.
This practice has become more common than lifelong monogamy. While society still includes many people with lifetime marriages, today’s world largely consists of people with short, medium and long-term bursts of serial monogamy.
A desire for serial monogamy
For a person’s dating habits to be considered serial monogamy, they must hit certain criteria. The individual must enter a series of exclusive relationships, one partner at a time, with each eventually ending. The length of serial monogamous relationships can vary greatly. For example, a person might have one relationship that lasts six weeks, followed by one that lasts five years and then another that lasts two years, and so on.
Serial monogamists believe the fairytale dream of “the one” is untrue, recognize that the passion and desire they now feel will ultimately fade, and tend to end a relationship when it loses the initial romantic energy. They make a conscious decision to have multiple relationships instead of one much longer lifetime relationship.
Another trait of serial monogamists is that they are usually always in a romantic relationship because being single makes them feel uncomfortable. In this way, they view relationships as a means to their own happiness. This stems from a belief that personal fulfillment takes priority over maintaining a long-term relationship.
All of us experience a high at the start of romantic relationships due to an increase in dopamine, a “pleasure” chemical, in the brain. It’s possible to become dependent on producing these feel-good chemicals that come with new, intimate relationships, and this dependence can lead to an addictive cycle of seeking the attachment and comfort of new relationships.
The challenges of serial monogamy
Serial monogamy has always been closely associated with divorce, the act of legally dissolving a marriage. The high divorce rate opens up the possibility of remarriage and assists in the transition of many married people from monogamy to serial monogamy as the new norm.
The increase in serial monogamy also has ramifications for how we define family: children are increasingly raised not only by married parents but also by single parents, step-parents and parents who date.
A cross-sectional survey showed that serial monogamy can increase the risk of getting or spreading a sexually transmitted infection (STI) when the interval between partnerships is shorter than a given infectious time period. STI screening is always essential but especially prudent for serial monogamists and those partners entering into relationships with them.
Serial monogamy may be a choice but it’s also simply a fact of life in today’s dating world. Fewer people want to commit to “forever” and instead prefer “right now.” But serial monogamists can be counted on to provide commitment in relationships—just for a shorter term.