Serial Monogamy: Addiction or Dedication?

Jessica Hoppe

Hello, my name is Jessica and I am a serial monogamist.

For the past eleven years I have been in committed, monogamous, long-term, long distance (well, the first one was partial long distance) relationships—three to be exact. I took no pause between boyfriends, no time to ponder what went wrong—just on to the next one. Whether times were good or bad I always remained in the partnership. Ever the believer [in love], the communicator, the cheerleader I clung to my man like a koala bear. The motivation was not necessarily to be happy but to preserve the relationship at all costs.

This kind of relationship behavior is often labeled “co-dependent serial monogamy.” My sister would call it: “You can’t be alone.” But perhaps there’s more to it than that?

According toPsychology Today,serial monogamists usually believe in some kind of ideallove and in the importance of commitment to one partner, but keep a safe distance from the idea that true love should happen only once in a lifetime.

Many, such as authorsDavid Barash andJudith Lipton ofThe Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People,assert monogamy is a cultural ideal that goesagainst some of the deepest evolutionary inclinations that biology has given us. However, they also admit that as much as we desire to “spread the seed,” we also desire companionship and stability. Thus, the desire to be monogamist allows humans to overcome biological tendencies and employ ourincredibleflexibility when it comes to relationship lifestyles.

A recent article bySmart Talk About Love explores the idea that serial monogamy is in fact the marriage of these two desires:

Serial monogamy is characterized by living in some degree of a fantastical environment, says another book on the topic,The Monogamy Myth, by Peggy Vaughan. People behave as if the relationship is everlasting, and they really hope that it will be, even though it’s almost always for a limited time. It feels safer to be in a relationship, even if it doesn’t actually last ’til death.

According to the evidence at hand, serial monogamy allows you indulge the biological desire to have several partners while fulfilling your need for a dependable relationship.AsSTAL‘s article concludes,”In a way, serial monogamy is a happy medium. We’re not being so subversive as to reject the idea of monogamous relationships altogether (gasp!), but we’re also not entering into a tricky-to-maintain lifelong commitment.”