I don't think so.
"Playing the field" is just not my style. Maybe it's the hopeless romantic inside of me that will always draw hearts in the sand ...
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Throughout my life, my dating experience has typically followed a pattern.
I find myself single and looking. I meet one or more interesting prospects. Some flirting ensues; a few dates. Eventually, the candidates with the least potential are weeded out and I find myself continuing to date someone I click with. I don't like to juggle when it comes to dating and I've always openly embraced exclusivity over casually playing the field. If it doesn't work out, there's a break-up (some worse than others) and then soon enough I find myself single and looking again.
That's my pattern.
The lengths of time where I've remained single vary from a just couple of months to just over a year. The lengths of the various relationships that I've been in vary just as much, with only four qualifying as serious. There was the high school boyfriend that I thought I loved, the college boyfriend that I truly loved, the divorced guy that I pretended to love and then there's the STBX.
The longest I've ever been out of an exclusive relationship since I started dating in the first place was the year or so I spent mostly solo before getting serious with the STBX and, interestingly, that relationship turned out to be the longest I've ever had, not to mention the most serious, complicated and life-changing. Six years total; soon to end in divorce.
Since the breakdown of what was thought to be forever, I've been in one brief "relationship" that abruptly ended in absolute insanity when I found out that my new beau's idea of "exclusive" meant me on the side occasionally, while he regularly went home to a wife that I didn't know about. I'm left wondering if that mishap really even counts, hence the quotations around the label.
Regardless, I find myself single and looking for the second time since leaving my marriage. I also find myself confronted with the social stigma of the serial monogamist.
It is a common misconception that serial monogamy is a dating behavior innate only to insecure, needy and co-dependent weaklings suffering psychological instabilities or disturbances. People who just can't be alone. While there are some people like that, not all serial monogamists are motivated by unhealthy emotions and poor character traits. Not all serial monogamists avoid self-reflection and personal growth while staving off loneliness by hiding in a relationship regardless if the relationship is good for them or not.
Contrarily, there's a whole different breed of serial monogamists that are not only strong, independent, self-reflective and completely capable of being alone, but that are also masters of embracing hopeless romanticism while also keeping both feet firmly planted in reality.
I am part of that breed.
I believe in an ideal love and I am an advocate of commitment, but I'm not so hung up on the idea of there only being "one" love out there for me that I struggle with putting myself back in the game after a mistake, break-up or other romantic failure where what I thought was "ideal" turned out not to be anything of the sort. Instead of hanging on to the devastation surrounding a break-up by throwing up walls and becoming emotionally unavailable when wounded (as is the stigma of those casual daters or perpetual singles out there that forever play the field), I pay attention and take the lessons learned with me so that I am better equipped to chose someone closer to that ideal love the next time around.
According to Psychology Today, there's research supporting this sort of dating behavior as being worthwhile and not always deserving of the bad rap it usually gets.
With that, I'll shamelessly defend my serial monogamist dating style from now on. Not only do I know who I am and what I want out of life, but I also have enough confidence and life experience these days to know that I cultivate my own happiness, regardless if I'm in a relationship or not.
I won't just fall into any old relationship purely to achieve some sort of false sense of security and safety therein either. I have boundaries and I practice establishing them every day. At the same time, I don't need to stay single for any extraordinary lengths of time merely to assert my sense of independence.
I just know who I am and in knowing that, I know what works for me.