What is the psychology behind a serial monogamist?

In this blog we will discuss what serial monogamists are and what is the psychology behind serial monogamists. 

We will also take a closer look into what causes this pattern of relationships and how serial monogamy impacts a person’s life.

What is the psychology behind a serial monogamist?

A serial monogamist refers to an individual who tends to move from one romantic relationship to another fairly quickly without much time spent being single. 

They are often observed to have short monogamous romantic relationships with partners consecutively or that they remain in a long term relationship but without long term commitment. 

The key here is that they are faithful to their partners however, they jump from one partner to another, spend little time being single and do not seem to want to commit to the relationships they have at hand either. 

According to Sian Ferguson, writer at PsychCentral, there is no official record of the prevalence of how many individuals engage in this form of relationship patterns.

There has been very little research on the matter and there has been many speculations related to what people engage in this kind of relationship pattern.

Serial monogamy is not the same as hookup culture or causal one night stands which involves causal sexual encournters. Serial monogamy involves a more serious relationship where the individual might have even met the parents of their partner before suddenly and unexpectedly ending the relationship. 

Most serial monogamists, not all, tend to struggle with a fear of commitment or abandonment as a result of earlier traumatic experiences related to important relationships and people in their lives.

A serial monogamist might also have a history of divorce or broken engagements and struggle with a healthy idea of exclusivity in a relationship as well- they might either run from commitment or they might be over enthusiastic about the idea of rushing forward in the relationship- like get engaged really soon without getting married. 

They might also struggle with low self worth and the constant seeking for a romantic partner could be their way of seeking validation. It is also possible that these short lived relationships could also be a result of their anxiety and their tendency to self-sabotage. 

In some cases, these patterns of relationship attachment could also be an indication of personality disorders such as Borderline Personality disorder.

Evolutionary Psychology perspective

Research into serial monogamy from the perspective of evolution focused on how this pattern of relationship influences survival of the human species. 

Researchers in this field suggest that this could be because long monogamous relationships for an entire lifetime is not natural- speaking from the perspective of survival. 

It has been observed, throughout history, where an individual- often times in high social standing such as royalty- tends to partner with a female, produces an offspring and then after some period of time re-partners with another female and produces another offspring.

It is also believe that it is not only done for the benefit for the human races as a whole nor for the survival and sustenance of the bloodline of the male but it could also be of benefit for females- adding to their fertility and an expansion of their resources as seen in some south american cultures (ChoosingTherapy).

Attachment Theory perspective of serial monogamy

This pattern of human relationships can be fairly understood based on Bowlby’s Attachment theory.

According to this theory, the emotional and physical bonding that a child makes with their caregiver is also the kind of bonding they will develop in their adulthood- meaning that these initial and primary attachments formed in clunes later attachments. 

If a child is raised in an ideally secure and safe emotional and physical environment, the way they form later relationships will be secure and unconditional much like the one they experienced in childhood. 

However, if the child is neglected or abused and abandoned, this can lead to insecure relationships that are either characterised with anxiety, resistance, and preoccupation. 

In this case, a serial monogamist could also be part of these patterns of insecure relationship types and their pattern of being in a relationship all the time and avoiding commitment could be because of their own fears of abandonment or because they seek comfort and love from others to fill a need.

What causes serial monogamy?

Though there is a lack of research of this particular relationship and social behaviour, many experts based on research on attachment and human relationships find that the cause of serial monogamy cannot be tied to only one cause but there are possible factors related to it.

These include:

Fear of commitment

A serial monogamist, and not all, might be afraid of commitment due to which they exit relationships that are becoming too serious. 

They might fear commitment as well as fear abandonment at the same time which is why they leave before they get left and put up with someone else to avoid their emotions and distress of being alone and unloved. 

Trauma

It is possible that unresolved trauma related to abdomen, abuse, and other secual traumas can also lead to several relationship difficulties in adulthood. 

These traumas when they are unresolved, might show up in the relationship during conflicts and changing stages and evolution leading the individual to become anxious and distressed due to which they leave the relationship at the first sign of trouble. 

However, because they struggle with being alone or being unloved, they might immediately get into another relationship for validation as well as because of peer pressure. 

Low self-worth

Another reason why people move on too quickly is because of their need for validation and love. 

Due to issues like low self-with or lack of self -love- they might seek it from somewhere else as a result of which they might be quick to get into new relationships after old one’s have passed. 

Self-sabotage

Due to insecurities and insecure attachment styles, an individual might self sabotage their relationships even if the relationship is healthy and good because of their own fears and anxieties. 

They might abandon the relationship as a way to self-sabotage themselves in order to make them feel secure in their fears because that is all they have ever known. 

Black-and-white thinking

Another reason why individuals might abandon their relationship and seek out new ones immediately is because they are seeking for an ideal relationship and this is informed by their balck and white thinking- that all relationships must be perfect or it is not worth it. 

This type of all-or- nothing relationship leaves no room for empathy and human errors due to which they leave a relationship at the first signs of trouble. 

How does being a serial monogamist affect a person?

Being a serial dater is not a bad thing, it is important for one to explore their options before moving forward in any relationships. 

However, if a person moves from one intense relationship to another without any signs of slowing down to work on the relationship and help it grow into something meaningful it can lead to a lot of problems. 

Some of them include:

They might experience difficulty in grieving a relationship which can lead to a sense of loss that is not addressed and this can further impact your future relationships as well as your mental health. 

It can also lead you to neglect your other relationships because of how intense your romantic relationships are- it can leave no time for other people. 

It can cause the individual to lack an understanding of what relationships are and also impact their chances of developing non-romantic meaningful relationships.

A serial monogamist might often struggle with a feeling of emptiness and loneliness because of their inability to create meaningful and purposeful relationships which is crucial for one’s well being and perceived life satisfaction. 

According to Martin Selgiman, a pioneer of positive psychology, meaningful and positive relationships are an important hallmark of building a life that is satisfying and fulfilling and this can impact one’s mental wellbeing.

One must understand that when an individual is in serial monogamous relationships, the feeling of emptiness and fulfilment can lead them to develop issues related to hopelessness and worthlessness such as depression. 

It can also lead to relationship conflicts with other people and not just your romantic interests but also your friends and family- this can draw a wedge between you and other people. 

Disturbed attachment as seen in the case of serial monogamists could also be a sign of a mental disorder such as borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder which is why it is important that one develops an insight as to how they form attachments with other people. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what serial monogamists are and what is the psychology behind serial monogamists. 

We have also taken a closer look into what causes this pattern of relationships and how serial monogamy impacts a person’s life.

FAQ related to serial monogamist

What causes a person to be a serial monogamist?

Though there is a lack of research of this particular relationship and social behaviour, many experts based on research on attachment and human relationships find that the cause of serial monogamy cannot be tied to only one cause but there are possible factors related to it. These include:

  • Fear of commitment and abandonment
  • Trauma
  • Low self worth
  • Self sabotage
  • Black and white thinking 
  • Mental disorders such as Borderline Personality disorder.

Is serial monogamy a mental disorder?

No serial monogamy is not a mental disorder. However, disturbed attachment as seen in the case of serial monogamists could also be a sign of a mental disorder such as borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder which is why it is important that one develops an insight as to how they form attachments with other people. 

What is serial monogamy in psychology?

A serial monogamist refers to an individual who tends to move from one romantic relationship to another fairly quickly without much time spent being single. 

They are often observed to have short monogamous romantic relationships with partners consecutively or that they remain in a long term relationship but without long term commitment. 

The key here is that they are faithful to their partners however, they jump from one partner to another, spend little time being single and do not seem to want to commit to the relationships they have at hand either. 

Do serial monogamists ever settle down?

Serial monogamists do get married and settle down; however, they might get a divorce later down the line or they might engage in infidelity as well as have multiple partners. 

However if a person with a history of serial monogamy is able to work on their attachment, they can have a fairly stable monogamous and loyal relationship. 

References

Ferguson.S. Are You a Serial Monogamist? Signs, Causes, and Breaking the Cycle. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/health/serial-monogamist#causes

Serial Monogamy: Signs, Causes, & Considering Breaking the Cycle. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/serial-monogamy/

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