Recovering from Serial Monogamy
My first relationship began shortly after I turned 15, with a girl I met on Tumblr. She lived over a thousand miles away from me, and we dated for nine months. From then on, I was hooked on relationships. I never spent more than two consecutive months without pursuing or being in a relationship, even if the person lived over two thousand miles away. In the six years since that first relationship started, I’ve had eight girlfriends and three more "somethings."
Around girlfriend number four, one of my best friends called me a ‘serial monogamist.’ She was right, and I was okay with it…until now. Now, I am a recovering serial monogamist.
Two months ago, I hit a breaking point. I began a relationship with a woman based on fleeting, post-orgasmic feelings of comfort and satisfaction. She quickly began talking about our future – what will happen when I move away at the end of the summer – as though we were clearly meant to be together and would do whatever it took. She told me this, and I suddenly realized that I was in a relationship, allowing somebody to fall in love with me, while I had no true desire to be with her. I was with her because having a designated person was my safety net as summer approached and all my friends were leaving the foreign city in which we’d all been living.
I was afraid of being alone. I was suddenly forced to make the decision whether to continue a relationship that was unhealthy for both of us – something I had grown accustomed to – or face the fear of being alone.
Unlike the times in the past when I faced this decision and chose the former, this time I faced my fear and ended the relationship.
I had no clue how to be single; how to not have a specific person that I debriefed with every night, who supported me when I was feeling insecure, whose problems I took on as my own, to whom I dedicated my time. For the first time, though, I didn’t solve this perceived dilemma by finding a new designated person. Instead, I managed the problem until I realized that there was no problem in the first place. Once I had no designated person, I immediately and naturally turned to myself and to my friends. With my energy no longer coming from and being given to one person, my connections strengthened and I was less lonely than ever before.
I learned that being single does not mean being alone.
I also learned that being alone does not mean being lonely. Without a relationship to return to every night, I have found myself taking things more slowly and being more mindful about the typically mundane parts of daily life. I discovered that there are ways I can treat myself, date myself, make love to myself, and feel as euphoric as even the best relationships made me feel in the past. I realized this most powerfully one night when I abandoned my Netflix-and-Tinder bedtime routine. I instead lit some candles, put on calm music, laid a blanket on the floor, and thought about nothing but breathing and stretching for twenty minutes. I looked around and realized that I alone had created this space in which I could feel warmth and love flowing through my veins. I finally understood what it feels like to date yourself and love yourself.
I was so excited that I wanted to share this milestone with my best friend who had been supporting me in reaching a feeling like this since the moment we met. I decided to let that wait for the morning, though, and to dive as deep as possible into this interpersonal intimacy I had created. I took out my journal and wrote the following:
“In the past 20 minutes, I’ve realized what it means to date yourself. I feel like I’m a couple dates in and she’s finally brought me home, and I realized she’s made a loving gesture, one that required intentional effort. She intentionally prepared this euphoric atmosphere because she loves me, and she hopes that I’m falling in love with her too. She’s done so well tonight, and has taken such good care of me, that I suddenly realize I might be falling for her. I love that her is me – for the first time, I am in a love affair with only myself and my body. The energy I put in to loving myself will only feed itself, always leaving me fuller and happier. There is no worrying about other people’s thoughts, intentions, problems…nothing. I am in a relationship with only myself, and she is in a relationship only with me. I think we’re in deep. My love, thank you for taking such good care of me tonight.”
It’s been six years since I started entering romantic relationships, and now I’m single. And it’s the best relationship yet.