Thread: Serial Monogamy
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Old 06-02-2012, 03:46 AM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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Default Serial Monogamy

I'm confused about what people mean when they say "serial monogamy."

I first heard the term in the context of therapy/advice columns, referring to a fairly common phenomenon: people whose only dating style is to have long-term, monogamous relationships. When one relationship ends, the "serial monogamist" starts another right away (sometimes leaving the first relationship for another, but not always). Maybe the relationships last about two years each and end just at the verge of marriage.

Sometimes people who do this for many years feel that it is making them unhappy. Often they realize they never got to know who they are when not in a relationship. If someone recognizes that this is their pattern, the advice they are given is to consider being single for longer, to learn to enjoy being single/alone, and/or to try dating more casually while "in between" relationships rather than rushing to commit.

However, lately I've been hearing people use the phrase "serial monogamy" to refer to a totally different thing: having a series of short-term relationships, for example, a pattern of dating someone for 2-3 months then dropping them to date someone else.

Some people (perhaps lots of people) do indeed do this, but I don't think that's what the term "serial monogamy" was coined to mean.

The first kind of serial monogamy is for people who genuinely like being monogamous & committed, at least for a while, and hate being alone; but the second use of the term seems to be for people who are not interested in monogamy but simply don't like their lovers to overlap, or who can't handle emotional commitment but only date one person at a time.

I'm not sure why it bothers me that the term is used for two wildly different dating habits, but it does bother me.

Also, both definitions of "serial monogamy" have negative connotations, right? Do you think that's fair? I'm sure almost everyone has been a serial monogamist at some point in their life.

And, for a related topic: in what ways could polyamory be related to either type of serial monogamy?

I could see either "type" of serial monogamists discovering polyamory and feeling that it might work better than the way they've been doing things.
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