Freshman year of college, I ended a relationship with my first serious boyfriend.
College held the promise of new experiences and opportunities, and dating casually was one that I was eager to explore.
Unfortunately, it turned out that I wasn’t hard-wired to date around. Every “casual” dating experience would turn into a relationship. I fell into a pattern of dating someone seriously for six months to a year, then moving on to someone new. There was seldom more than a week or two between my relationships, and as one would near the end, I would have a new romance brewing.
At the time, I didn’t realize that I was a serial monogamist. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to acknowledge my dating life could be unhealthy.
Is being a serial monogamist the worst thing in the world? No, not at all, but here is how it began affecting my growth and long-term relationship goals.
There was no time for me to heal in-between relationships.
There is nothing like a break-up. The hurt, the pain, the tears, it is undeniably terrible.
Healthy individuals usually take the time to heal after a long-term relationship. Serial monogamists, on the other hand, endure a brutal break-up and immediately jump into a new relationship.
I remember walking through a grocery store, hand in hand with my new boyfriend, several weeks after a break-up that had left me devastated. After we bought groceries and walked towards the exit, my ex-boyfriend locked eyes with me from across the store.
It felt like my body and heart were on fire. Outwardly I kept it together, but inside it felt like my heart was breaking all over again. It was undeniable that I wasn’t over my ex, but I still took no time by myself to heal.
By skipping right into the “love” stage, I didn’t learn how to identify if we were compatible.
None of my relationships were casual. Within several months of dating, “I love you’s” were shared alongside serious discussions about the future. I would dive into every romance headfirst, giddy in the honeymoon stage.
The issue with rose-colored glasses is that they come off… hence why I would begin to pull back by around the sixth-month mark.
My boyfriend right after college was a prime example of this pattern. He was ready to settle down and get married, whereas I wanted to travel and see the world.
The relationship ended in an angry break-up and plenty of regrets. If there had been more honest conversations upfront, we might have concluded we were on entirely different paths and not hurt each other so deeply.
Never being alone meant that I wasn’t dealing with my past trauma.
I always hated being alone.
Either I was in a “serious” relationship, I was on the prowl for a new romance, or I was hanging out with friends. Deep down, I knew that I was terrified of being alone and did everything to ensure that I always had company.
When I finally decided to stay single for an extended amount of time and spend time alone, a lifetime of trauma hit me all at once.
Although it was far from an enjoyable time, it was incredibly needed. Being alone forced me to finally face my past and the parts of myself that I had to work on to heal. Had I continued my prior dating patterns, I may have never been in a space to cultivate a healthy relationship.
A serial monogamist was not the worst thing that I could have been
When I look back, do I wish I would have spent more time focusing on myself instead of jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend? Absolutely.
I endured a lot of pain and heartbreak and made poor choices along my dating journey. That being said, it ultimately shaped me into the person I am today and led me to the incredible man I have the honor of marrying.
We all have the capability to learn from our mistakes, identify our unhealthy dating patterns, and correct the ones that no longer serve us.