We all know at least one person who always has a significant other, even immediately after a breakup. Lately I’ve noticed that serial monogamy—leaping from one exclusive relationship to the next—has become a more popular and accepted dating trend among my friends and acquaintances. Why?
According to Psychology Today, serial monogamists usually believe in some kind of ideal love 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. Why chain ourselves to one Prince Charming when we can find a new one as soon as the original’s charming quotient runs out?
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For many people, the relationship pattern seems automatic, like brewing a morning cup of coffee or sitting down to dinner every night. I was curious how some of us manage to have so many meaningful long-term relationships, while others run away screaming after one strike out. Is it fear of being alone? Simple luck? Genetics? And what’s so bad about doing a little casual dating and enjoying some alone time before starting up the next relationship?
To find the answers, I began studying and interviewing the serial monogamists I know. They, along with some psychological research, broke down a few different reasons why the serial monogamy trend seems to be taking off.
Monogamy Isn't Instinct …
… but traditional monogamy isn’t the most common arrangement. Empirical evidence shows that lifelong romantic partnerships have only existed in a handful of civilizations, coming in at around 20 percent of human relationships. (The percentage shrinks when we take all mammals into account, which takes us down to about 3 percent.) In The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People, David Barash and Judith Lipton explain that expecting to stay with one mate for life goes against some of the deepest evolutionary inclinations that biology has given us. Mythical Monogamy vs Real Monogamy