Being in a romantic relationship can truly be wonderful.  There’s the excitement of being with someone new, the joy of receiving and giving sexual attention, the pleasure of having someone to share memories with, and so much more.  There are so many positive aspects of being in a relationship that some people struggle to stay single, even when it’s in their best interest. Staying single as serial dater can be difficult; however, it is possible.  This article will explain how to stay single, as well as why it may be necessary.

Basic Definitions

Before going forward, let’s make sure we’re on the same page regarding terms.  This article defines a serial dater as someone who consistently enters a new, romantic relationship quickly after a breakup.  Essentially, the serial dater does not leave much room between their relationships. Serial daters are also known as serial monogamists.  However, this article is for people of all relationship types who simply have a difficult time staying single. To keep things clear, here are some common signs of a serial dater.

  • Throughout your entire dating history, you have not been single for over three months
  • You would rather date someone who isn’t a perfect match for you, than be alone
  • You feel as though you’re constantly introducing your friends to a new partner
  • You have “backup” partners in case your current relationship doesn’t work out
  • You struggle to remember the last time you were single
  • You consistently find yourself bored in a relationship after the butterflies fade
  • You dread the idea of being alone

If you find yourself agreeing to any of the statements, don’t panic.  They do not inherently make you a bad person, nor do they automatically mean that you’re a serial dater.  Instead, these statements can simply inform your dating habits, and ultimately, your dating style. If you feel as though you truly are a serial dater, here is what you might be missing out on.

The Benefits of Being Single

Now that we have a shared definition on being a serial dater, let’s talk about the benefits of actually being single.  Introspection is one of the biggest perks of taking a break from dating. When you give yourself room to breath from relationships, you can reflect on what you learned from your past relationships and how you show up as a partner.  You’re able to assess your dating habits, preferences, and areas of improvement. However, being single benefits more than your future love life.

One big perk of being single is the higher amount of free time.  Whether you’re going out on dates or in a long-term relationship, being with a person takes a good amount of time.  When you’re single, you don’t have to worry about planning dates, traveling to a partner, or investing in someone else’s obligations.  This increase in free time is especially useful when going through busy moments in life. For instance, higher education (e.g., undergrad, grad school, trade school) can be truly demanding of your time.  Many people like being single during this moment because it not only affords them more time for their studies, but there is also a lack of pressure to please someone else. In other words, you don’t have to worry about being busy, and thus, a “bad partner” if you’re single.

Another perk of being single is the amount of money you can save.  To be clear, this mainly applies to the serial daters who move from one short-lived relationship to the next.  As said earlier, dating takes a good amount of time, but also money. Going to dinners, movies, and concerts all add up over time.  Taking a break from dating is a great opportunity to save money or invest it into something that you’re really passionate for (e.g., a new wardrobe, art supplies, a new musical instrument).  However, there are additional perks with being single.

Simply put, taking a break from dating allows you to work on yourself.  For some people, their needs and self-exploration go on the backburner, while the relationship or partner becomes the priority.  Though this can seem like a noble and selfless act, it prevents the person from taking care of themselves. Additionally, by neglecting your self-exploration and wants, pressure unconsciously falls on your partner to satiate your needs.  Meanwhile, others feel too busy maintaining a relationship to do personal work. Either way, a period of being single allows you to discover neglected interests, reconnect with friends and family, and ascertain what truly makes you happy.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, another benefit of being single is its ability to lead to better relationships in the future.  As mentioned earlier, if you have a firm understanding of your passions and ways to self-satisfy, there’s less pressure on your partner to make you happy.  To clarify, your partner should of course do what they can to create a joyful and respectful environment. The problem is that we can unconsciously expect our partners to fix whatever problems we have.  Essentially, we can have the expectation that they will be the ones to make us happy.  Additionally, by being single, you can assess what you bring to relationships, both good and bad.  Even the best partner has flaws, and only by understanding them can we prevent their reoccurrence.

Once again, some people can unconsciously rely on their partner as a coping mechanism.  Though this isn’t inherently a bad thing, being single can spur the person to form their own healthy coping skills.  By taking a break from dating, here are some questions of many that you can ask yourself.

  • What’s the cycle that I always find myself in?
  • What is my ideal self, and how can I work towards it?
  • When was the last time I did something for my own happiness?
  • What kind of role do I tend to take in the relationship (e.g., the caretaker, the planner, the emotional support)?
  • What are the new skills that I learned / hobbies that I became involved in that I want to claim as mine?
  • What are some old habits and old hobbies that I want to get back into?
  • How can I be my own best friend?
  • How did I contribute to the last breakup?
  • What are some needs that I may have been neglecting?
  • How do I want my next relationship to be?
  • What am I truly passionate for?
  • How do I want to get better at handling stress?

Romantic relationships can be great, at the same time, being single can give you the space for self-reflection.  It’s similar to living with your parents. For several people, it’s a wonderful experience. However, moving out can give you a clearer picture on how you spend money, how you handle bills, and how you want your home environment to look. Simply put, it’s difficult to know what you want when someone else is taking care of your needs and obligations.  Taking a break from dating affords you the same opportunity: you are better able to discover your needs, as well as how to satisfy them.   Though there are great benefits with being single, there are also clear challenges.

Challenges of Staying Single

To be frank, some people wouldn’t struggle to stay single if it were easy.  Loneliness, boredom, and the need for external validation all make staying single unappealing.  Regarding the first factor, humans have a natural need for social contact. On top of that, many people also have romantic and sexual needs.  Being in a relationship can satiate all of these desires, which make relationships so alluring. Romantic relationships can also alleviate boredom.  The start of a relationship, or the honeymoon phase, can be truly exciting. You’re meeting someone new, you’re going to novel places, and you’re likely having a lot of sex.  For some serial daters, this period can almost be addicting, and it’s easy to see why. Finally, being in a relationship can provide external validation. To clarify, there’s nothing wrong with wanting attention and affirmation from others; in fact, it’s quite normal.  It’s one of the reasons why being in a relationship feels great: whether it’s through words or actions, someone is showing you how amazing they think you are. Romantic relationships simply satiate a lot of needs, and it’s hard to turn all of that down. Besides having certain needs met, there are other challenges of staying single.

For many people, being single can be scary.  A common fear is that by taking a break from relationships, reentering the dating field will be too difficult or awkward.  There’s the idea that you may forget how to date, or all the good partners will be taken. On top of all of this, being single can be frightening if you’ve always been in relationships.  After all, going outside your comfort zone can often be scary. Furthermore, singlehood affects people differently based on their gender. Generally speaking, there can be a “timeline” for women.  There is the idea that a woman has to be married by a specific time or they’ll spend the rest of their days alone. The pressure of time is less intense for men, but it still exists. Being a bachelor in your 40s is not the same as being a bachelor in your 20s.  Similar to women, there’s an expectation that you “should” be married and have a family by now, and if you don’t, there must be something wrong with you. However, by understanding your fears and needs regarding romantic relationships, you can learn to manage them in healthy ways.  Here are some questions to help with that exploration.

  • If I were to imagine deviating from my romantic timeline, what emotions come up for me?
  • How comfortable am I with life changes?
  • Do I worry about my appearance waning over the years?
  • How old is “too old” to date?
  • How comfortable am I with myself?

Ways to Stay Single

Engage in Hobbies

One way to stay single is to capitalize on one of the benefits of being single: more time for yourself.  This can be an amazing and thrilling time in your life, especially if you have a history on prioritizing others.  Take some time to reflect on your interests. Which hobbies bring you the most joy? Which activities have you been meaning to get back into?  After you thought of a couple of hobbies, figure out how to reintroduce them into your schedule. Join a MeetUp group that specializes in your interest, enlist in a class that teaches your hobby, or join an intramural sport near where you live.  Essentially, take advantage of the resources of your environment. After all, this is a great opportunity to meet new people and spice up your life.  It’s hard to be bored when you’re frequently doing new, exciting activities, right?

Furthermore, by participating in a group activity, you’re getting out of your home, while getting social interaction.  This allows you to experience some of the connection and camaraderie commonly found in romantic relationships.  Furthermore, hobbies can work as a healthy distraction. If you are home alone with nothing to do, it’s easy to ruminate over the disadvantages of being single.  Suddenly, the feelings of loneliness, boredom, and sorrow feel more intense. Do yourself a favor and stay social. It may seem difficult at first, but this can be a great, exciting opportunity for you.  You can really learn more about yourself. What activities do you like? What kind of people do you really connect with? How do you tend to interact with others? You can answer all of these questions and more by taking a break from dating and engaging in group activities.  At the same time, there are also solitary activities that can help you stay single.

Write a Letter to Yourself

One easy activity is to simply take out a sheet of paper and write a letter to yourself.  In this letter, list all the reasons why you are choosing to take a break from relationships.  Remind yourself of your dating history, and the dissatisfying trends found within it. Reiterate what you’re hoping to change, as well as why you want these things to change.  Additionally, explain how you’ll know when you’re ready to date again.  By reminding yourself of your goals and exploring your growth process, staying single won’t seem so daunting.  To make this process even easier, there is another activity that you can do.

Analyze Your Dating Process

Another way to stay single is to reflect on your dating process.  Specifically, what are the steps between meeting a person and forming a relationship with them?  Here is a generic example of a person’s dating process.

  • After meeting a person, we text off and on for a couple of weeks.  We then decide to go on a date. If it goes well, I go on three more dates with them to have a good grasp of their personality.  Afterwards, if we both like each other, we become “official.”

The above example isn’t the “correct” or “ideal” dating process.  Instead, it’s simply an example of how one can look. Use the above example as a template and figure out what you would change or add to make it fit your dating process.  When you first meet a person, is it already romantic?  Do you need five, three, or one date before committing to a person?  Is dating even something that you tend to do? Serial daters tend to “slide” into a relationship during specific parts of their dating process.  Therefore, by asking yourself these questions, you have more insight in how to slow things down. For instance, if you tend to date a person shortly after meeting them, changing your expectations can be beneficial (e.g., “I’m just trying to gain a new friend, not a new partner.”).  Additionally, try tripling the number of dates you usually require to commit to a person. For instance, if you tend to commit after three dates, shoot for nine. Increasing the number of dates will decrease impulsivity, giving you more time to reflect on your actions. After the fourth date, you may realize that the potential partner is actually a bad fit, and that you’re better off without them.

Analyze Your Goals

Additionally, try analyzing your goals for dating.  Are you lonely and you just want someone to hang out with?  Are you simply trying to get your sexual needs met? Do you want to feel special in a romantic way?  Is it a combination of all three, or something else entirely? After analyzing your goals for dating, how do you evaluate a partner who meets those goals?  This is key if you’re trying to stop being a serial dater. Having this information gives you insight on whether the problem lies with your goals (e.g., they’re unrealistic), or finding someone to satiate these goals (e.g., your goals are fair, but you keep picking the wrong people to achieve them).  Regardless, analyzing your dating process isn’t the only way to stay single

Create a Singles Network

It’s quite difficult to stay single when everyone around you is in a relationship.  If you only hang out with couples, it’s likely that you’re going to feel left out, or that there’s something wrong with you.  To remedy that, spend time with people who are in a similar situation. Essentially, create a list of friends who are not in a relationship.  After you’ve done that, reach out to them. See if they want to hang out with you over the weekend, or join you for one of the hobbies you’re trying to get back into.  Your single friends can empathize with your situation, and remind you that it can be completely normal and healthy to take a break from dating. All in all, creating a singles network can be a great support system.

Staying single as a serial dater can truly be challenging.  Not only is being a relationship familiar, it satisfies several needs, such as companionship, excitement, and sexual desire.  However, you can still satiate these needs while single. Plus, there are so many perks from taking a break with dating. You can learn more about yourself, you can try new hobbies and activities, and you can work towards becoming your ideal self.  Additionally, taking a break from dating grants you the opportunity to notice and rectify poor dating habits. All in all, being single doesn’t have to be something horrible; it can be a liberating experience that can lead to fun stories and self-exploration.   

If you’ve tried the interventions in this article and you are still struggling to stay single, you may need additional help.  Try making an appointment with the trained therapists at The Center Growth. Through their experience, they can help you achieve your desired change.