Third, he was out with friends and I hadn't wanted to join them. Four was a repeat number three. So I started chasing up the text replies with the odd phone call. It seemed perfectly reasonable - honest, even - in my foggy mind. But I discovered that however tiresome the traditional chase, binning the rulebook is a gamble. A friend of mine was on the receiving end of a similar relationship.
Activist Lesbian Friend, so frustrated by the constant calls from her fling, changed her number. Fling With An Attitude started calling her at the office - first under her real name, then using fakes. So ALF took out a restraining order. I sympathized with my friend, of course. But like her fling, the more I texted and was turned down, however reasonable the reason, the more neurotic I grew.
Finally Banker sets another date. We don't even kiss, this time. A quick drink to catch up, then back to his to sleep. I'm half asleep when I feel a dead weight rolling on me. And instead of pushing him off, I'm grateful. At least he wants me, I decide. We're kissing and after a while I say something about getting a condom.
I think he doesn't hear me. So I say it again. But he carries on. And when he's finished, he rolls off and goes to sleep. I'm awake all night.
The serial dater
The next morning, I shower before 6am. He wakes up and says: Then I say something about going to a clinic, getting a pill. Other types are much more full-on immersion experiences. I myself find myself moving in with someone after less than four weeks for another story. The transition points in a relationship, such as the weekend away, meeting the friends, deciding where to go for Christmas, and moving in can be avoided or screwed up.
And it is so easy to find other people if you look. When we do things over and over again, we get good at them. With experience, we get better and better. In our brain, repeated experiences create stronger neural pathways so we can perform the task over and over again, better each time. We might now be thinking of sport or playing the piano. It turns out that dating would count as well on the list of things that have an experience curve.
And this is where the problem comes in. There is a huge tension in many people, especially young people, in the desire to find a life-long partner, and the desire to test out a bunch to find the right one. There is a lot of social pressure early in adulthood to try out different partners, and young couples often have to fight their friends to explain why they are in a six year relationship at 25 years old. So, in some cultures, the US in particular, there is great pressure to serial date, for both women and men. The trouble comes when one finds the perfect partner.
This has two distinct phases of messiness: In Synchronizing to Start , the problem is how do two serial daters get serious with each other. A good LA friend of mine has experienced this from both ways in his relationships. In one case, he thought he had found a great partner match and wanted to spend a lot more time with the person. This fits into a much wider topic — that of Proximity.
I will be writing a lot more on that in the context of complex systems and other weird and wacky things, but for now, the basic concept is that you need to spend time with another person to get close. He wants to spend more time with the girl he is after.
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He gives up first Tuesday night, then a Saturday night, then a Sunday. He wants to move her name into his Favorite list on his iPhone. But, in this synchronizing phase, each person is not quite at the same level. She is still in serial dating mode. Maybe she does not have quite the same vibe yet as he does, or has something else going on. Maybe an ex who is still in the picture.
Or a new guy she is thinking of using the swap out with my friend over time. Either way, she is not synced up with my friend. In this case, two people have found each other, and are ready to make a commitment to be together. This is great news.
Having a partner is wonderful. I could go into how having a partner helps conserve energy, and how this is a trait of all complex systems — but that is for another paper. In this context though, we will look at partnering as a wonderful thing. A bond between two people. But, then there is that damn experience curve of serial dating.
For one or both partners, they have spend up ten or sometimes twenty years dating several people, either concurrently or in series. Get bored with one, swap them out.
Definition of Serial Dating | Dating Tips
Need different people for different modes? Get an artist for the weekends, and an accountant for the week. The pleasure highs of sex, closeness, and novelty get deep into our brains as the various pleasure chemicals get encoded into our memory banks see my past blog post on Sex and the Brain. Even the crappy times are still hyper memorable. So, switching from a decade of serial dating is hard.
Well, surprise, surprise, a lot of people have racked up the hours with a lot of people. Hence switching to monogamy is a rude surprise. This is especially true as we will be alive for a very long time. We tend to think that our current life will go on forever, and we think we can handle that long time period in our imagination. But stuff happens in life. New job opportunities in other countries come up. Having kids normally means a dramatic fall in sexual activity for most people. I think, therefore, that the cultural norm of serial dating in the younger generations, which in the US has been going for a few decades, naturally leads to more mess in the monogamous relationship model.
It is not impossible to survive, just harder. The ties that used to bond couples, such as finances or male domination of a female, are there less and less thankfully. A final thought on this.
This paper is not aimed at you. It is not for you to follow. But, hopefully, it might give you something to talk about maybe on your next date, or on Date Night for your special person. Hi Mark, Was looking for a concise article explaining the possible perils of serial dating.