I have been reading a great blog lately called Back in Stilettos Again. In fact, it’s one of the only blogs I read faithfully as the writing is great and the topic is…well, serial dating, which fascinates me, although I am not entirely sure the author considers herself a serial dater. Click the link and you decide. The point is, it has inspired me to share my opinions of serial dating. Good? Bad? Neutral?
Well, that depends.
It depends on your goals. It depends on who you are, and what you’re looking for. It depends on what you want to experience and what you expect from that experience. For the sake of this argument, I have to assume that for 99% of my readers their goal is not just to have fun and have sex. It is to find and have a healthy, long-term, monogamous relationship. That being said, if you are serial dating, you probably won’t find that. Here’s why.
- Serial dating ignores the fact that a good relationship is not found. It’s built. It takes time to figure out if someone “fits” into your lifestyle and matches your values–that is to say it takes time when you believe you should be investing time. Let’s be honest, some dates are dead ends the first time we meet them. I am not talking about those situations. I am talking about the dates with potential. What is your motivating factor for building a relationship with a guy who has flaws (not to be confused with red flags, you want to stay away from those) when there’s always the idea that you might find someone better? Likewise, what is your motivating factor for getting rid of a date with a ton of red flags when he’s really good bed and you find yourself simply dating him for nights when you don’t want to be alone?
- Serial dating allows you to completely avoid the growing pains of a new relationship that have to happen. By dating compulsively, you need to ask yourself if you are trying to avoid any discomfort from one relationship by filling it in with another. Are you trying to avoid any pain from loneliness or rejection. That, in and of itself, is a misleading coping mechanism. When we try to avoid pain, we often put unhealthy things in its place to “cover it up” (Excessive sex, food, love, shopping, alcohol, drugs, etc.). You know the deal. Feel the pain. Learn to manage it. Learn to accept it and work through it so you strengthen yourself when it comes again.
- Serial dating doesn’t encourage anyone to work at things Why bother working on commitment, intimacy, respect, or accountability when there is someone else? When everyone is easily replaced? Why do any heavy lifting when life is a lot easier and less intimate with short, intense dates that come or go and don’t place much of a burden on you emotionally? A monogamous relationship is hard work! It takes skill. Which brings me to my next point…
- Serial dating gives a false sense of accomplishment as you throw your net out, but like the numbers game, you end up wasting your time with completely inappropriate candidates. Serial dating throws selectivity in the trash. It tends to cheapen the experience of intimacy. Like it or not, we all need to long for and have desire for someone as a foundation for love. We all need to experience the potential of loss and/or frustration and/or awkwardness that comes with the territory of monogamy and new relationships. That means missing them. That means waiting. Being bored. Spending time with yourself. Cultivating other interests. How can you truly know yourself when you are filling nearly all your time with different men and sex? How can you know what you like when you do not allow yourself time to grow into something? When we throw spaghetti against the wall and hope something sticks, we cheapen our skills and abilities to maneuver our way through the world of dating. Where’s the logically motivated chess move when you hop into bed with someone you share zero values with? It usually isn’t there. What is there? Pleasure. Immediate gratification.
- Serial dating says a lot about the person you are by virtue of your actions and how you choose to live your life. If you are looking for a loyal, honest, monogamous, loving, intimate, respectful, respectable partner, you better be all those things too. How is it that we want all those things in a partner and yet, we, ourselves, can be dishonest, disloyal, disrespectful and unaccountable? How do we expect to attract a healthy type when we are not healthy within ourselves?
- Serial dating can be dangerous and misleading unless you really know how to play the game. Let’s be honest, you’re not on The Bachelor. This is real life and YOU are responsible for screening all these characters. Not Hollywood. That being said, unless you’re a private detective with access to multiple background check platforms, drug swabs and recent medical records, serial dating is not the smartest thing on the planet. When you date and kiss and sleep with different partners indiscriminately you run a higher risk of infection, STDs, AIDS, pregnancy, and sometimes even unwanted physical or sexual aggression. We can only do so much detective work on the people we meet online, and we’re always at the mercy of our date’s honesty when it concerns disclosing information. And again, serial dating is a numbers game. The more people you sleep with, the more you risk contracting an unwanted disease. More over, you run the risk of becoming someone’s (or many people’s) booty call. I am all about the empowerment of women in the dating world, but like it or not, we still have to deal with jerks. We still have to deal with false, hurtful and misleading labels like “easy,” “slutty,” “whore,” “bad girl,” “good girl.” It’s ridiculous. And it’s no fair. But it exists! Is the risk worth it? You have to decide.
- Serial dating could be love and/or sex addiction in disguise. When serial dating becomes compulsive, when serial dating becomes dangerous, when serial dating is used to cope with pain, loneliness or frustration, when serial dating interferes with your responsibilities, your work, your time with your kids, your home life, your safety, when serial dating and the things you do while you are serially dating hurt you or others, or it goes against what you stand for and believe in…you might be a sex or love addict. Investigate further. Here are 40 questions you can ask yourself about love addiction. Swap “love” for “sex” to see if you want to test out sex addict.
Now I’ll throw in a curve ball. Serial dating isn’t all bad. Here are a few examples of when serial dating might be right for you (sorry folks, there aren’t many):
- Your goal is not to be monogamous or in committed relationship.
- You want to play the field and you are more interested in “intensity and fun than in intimacy.
- Your expectations of dating are realistic and in alignment with the act of dating multiple partners.
- You are willing to accept the risks and you are willing to take all necessary precautions (paired with points 1, 2 or 3).
- You can mentally, physically and emotionally handle the lifestyle (paired with points 1, 2 or 3).
Of course all this sounds judgy and old fashioned. Surely we’ve come far enough that we can all take a liberal approach to dating and hop into bed with 20 guys if we want, right? Yes! Right! No judgment. But…if your goal is Love this is not the route. Only you can decide.
11 thoughts on “Are you a serial dater?”
Lauren and I have followed a similar dating trajectory (although at present are in rather different situations). In the past, occasionally someone would tell me I’m a serial dater as well – and I wasn’t. The reality is that I (and probably Lauren) am goals oriented. I don’t see much point in not doing things 100%. After a period of needing to get my mojo back, I had strict criteria for men I met online (I’ve written a post about it which many have found helpful). Several I met I knew right away wouldn’t work. Not because I wasn’t giving someone a chance but because the intellectual and/or physical chemistry wasn’t there. I didn’t need more dates to know it. Those that had promise I continued to date until either of us decided it wasn’t right. Sometimes I met multiple men at the same time. Didn’t mean I wasn’t giving them the chance. And if things didn’t work out I usually got back online again. My point being – sometimes it may look like serial dating but it’s not. Unfortunately the actions can be similar – it’s the underlying motivation that’s difficult to ascertain. What I’ve seen often is people who are afraid of intimacy or being hurt so they choose (maybe not consciously) to meet people who won’t work out. That’s the debate I have with Lauren when I see who she chooses to meet.
No matter what, the great thing about blogging is having people who care enough to provide us with feedback and observations.
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Yes, my thoughts exactly, Ann!
I’m ultimately looking for connection, chemistry, and love… not necessarily a long-term relationship and definitely not marriage. I’ve recently got burnt out on the hunt for intimacy so I’ve changed my tactic to just date for fun and companionship even though I’m always open to connection / something more serious. Unlike Ann, though, I don’t think dating young guys automatically disqualifies them as potential love interests.
I love your blog, GR! 🙂
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Thanks! Of course you can fall for someone 20 years your junior – but there are a massive list of things which are roadblocks and likely to not line up. So I don’t bother because my time is valuable and I think the chance of lightning striking with someone age 25 is insanely unlikely. And as you know from reading my blog, they tend to be less experienced lovers 😘
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You’re probably right! I’m stubborn. LOL
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Thanks Lauren! Dating (much) younger guys can be fun and exciting, and one can definitely find love and connection. But, I have to disagree on at least one point— the bigger the age difference the less two people have in common. And for long term healthy relationships you cannot just have “love” or “passion” or “chemistry.” In that sense you do have to ask yourself if you are attracted to unavailable types.
So, ladies…I don’t watch any Netflix or HBO series. I read blogs. And both of yours are FAB. But like getting hooked on a tv series, I do tend to get emotionally invested. I hope you are both playing safely and being good to yourselves. The moment it starts to hurt and feel wrong, don’t forget to stop, take a break and find yourselves! 😉
Thanks for your comment Ann. That does clear a lot up. I think the definition of serial dater to most is someone who dates blindly, coldly without any goal of long term relationship. Their only goal is dating and sex, compulsively. Not being selective. Think narcissist on the prowl. And by that definition neither of you seem like serial daters. But I guess the point I was trying to make here is that “over dating” (3-5 dates per week with different guys) might not be in everyone’s best interest. You really have to know yourself and what your goals are and then go from there. 🙂
I’ve definitely had times where I was having multiple first dates a week. But if I had the time and energy, I didn’t see the issue with it – other than being often exhausting and sometimes depressing 🙂
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I love following ALL of your blogs above Ann & Lauren, as I used to be a serial dater 5 years ago cos it was FUN, and I wanted the freedom and ease and excitement of it all. I think Girl’s post hits the nail on the head re motivations and issues; I love giving my feedback and support to any woman who is writing about her relationship challenges and asking for advice; all I want is for women to get whatever they want that makes them feel empowered and equal, and all your blogs help disseminate information and new narratives about ‘what women want’. You’re all a great read! G xO
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Thanks so much bone&silver! I always appreciate your comments and feedback. Maneuvering through life is rough sometimes. It’s good to have blogs like these! 🙂
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What about if you’re dating to write the next catchy pop song i.e. Taylor Swift?
But in all seriousness, without knowing how she’d answer the 40 question LA quiz & just by the sheer frequency of her relationships, is her serial dating an indication of disguised LA?
Super good question. I think if serial dating is temporary or an experiment or a phase, it’s not exactly LA. But, if you’re looking for love through serial dating, or if you can’t stop (dating becomes compulsive) then you might be a love addict. I tend to apply love and/or sex addict to people who chronically serial date. When you “say” you want intimacy and a deep connection but your actions are such that you just date a gazillion people, you are most likely in denial about the fact that serial dating is NOT the way to find intimacy or connection. I hope this answers your question. Thanks for reading!