“Confessions Of A Serial Monogamist:
A Personally-Tested Guide for the Systematic Dater”

by Rachel S. Thurston


Valentine's Day Cover Story
The Independent

            Because I’ve spent the last five years living in six states and three foreign countries, it could be said that I’ve maximized my time as a Serial Monogamist by ensuring that no relationship last longer than three months. I’ve also lessened that probability that I’ll have to resolve any serious conflicts that would inevitably come up in a longer commitment.

            Sounds good, huh?

            Many people fail to recognize the merits or ease of choosing this lifestyle over others. Living the life of a Serial Monogamist means you get to travel to exotic locations (like Ohio and Nicaragua). And you can take solace in the fact that you’re exhausting all geographic locations in your search for the perfect partner (if you’re not emotionally drained in the process).

            A Serial Monogamist seeks out companionship in short-term periods (one to several months) and tends to avoid long-term responsibility. There are two types of Serial Monogamists: The first is searching the world for the ultimate life partner or true love. The second type of Monogamist lives in absolute fear of settling into a relationship that has no end and is therefore utterly addicted to sabotaging it and searching for another partner with whom to continue the cycle.

            For the sake of simplicity and the health of your future relationsips, we’ll focus on the first type (although I admit to understanding both rationales quite well).

            Living as a Serial Monogamist is a bit like undertaking a secret science experiment. It entails a rigorous process of elimination in which you act as the scientist who searches for, screens, and tests those you court with the intention of finding the perfect partner.

            The ABC’s of this process are best detailed in a step-by-step plan (some steps are unavoidable) based on my personally tested three month model. (It’s been said that one can better teach from failures than successes…though my mothers always says “that experience is not transferable.” For her sake, let’s hope she’s wrong.)

Phase I: The Encounter and Battery Test

            Let me begin by saying that I have absolutely no idea how to meet someone in Santa Barbara—that’s probably why I’m still here. But I do know how to screen potential Monogamees for desirable qualities.

            Firstly, never underestimate the power of pheromones.

            Though women have a keener sense of smell, neither sex can deny the power of their noses to dissade or convince them of an attraction. Ever notice how one person’s breath and odor can smell so sweet while another’s is just downright offensive?

            Case in point: A college friend of mine once confessed she’d dated a guy who wore an unreasonable amount of cologne but whom she thought she was attracted to anyway. Once he stopped using the cologne however, she found his natural scent repelling enough to make her wince when they hugged. After weeks of denial, my girlfriend finally “came to her senses” and ended the relationship. To this day, she listens to her nose and never argues with its first impression.

            Among other factors to take into consideration when selecting a Monogamee candidate are: conversational skills, sense of humor, and kindness. Does he blabber on about goin’ ‘coon huntin’ in the Dakotas with his newest potato gun (and does that appeal to you?) or does he prefer translating novels into Swahili during his spare time?

            What are your language needs? My cousin had a highly rewarding relationship with a Honduran woman who spoke absolutely no English. Needless to say, his Spanish improved significantly during his stay in Central America (though his vocabulary was later revealed to be significantly limited to certain subject material).

            Does your candidate have a sense of humor? Is he good-humored in the face of public humiliation? I once witnessed a date of mine laugh with such gusto that he shot a strand of spaghetti out of his nose during dinner. He handled the incident with admirable grace, however.

Phase II: The Honeymoon Stage

            We all love this time…when every minute idiosyncrasy of our loved one is sickeningly (to our friends, at least) adorable. “Oh, look at the way her front teeth curve down like a bunny rabbit, isn’t that cute?” we coo. Or “The way he itches the side of his nose with his pinkie when he’s nervous,” or “How she hiccups when she eats too fast,” …Even the way he burps is irresistible.”

            Oh, he’s sooo adorable, that sweetie, honey-muffin, peach-blossom, pumpkin.

            Savor the moment, you soon-to-be star-crossed lovers.

Phase III: The Period of Disillusionment

            Okay, the party’s over.

            The Period of Disillusionment is best characterized as the point in a relationship in whioch a series of adverse situations (i.e., doing laundry, cooking a meal together, driving) only serves to extract and illuminate those inherent flaws of character that our loved ones possess. In this case, I’ll let others speak for me. A few chief complaints I’ve heard include:

            “Must he pick his teeth after dinner at nice restaurants or blow his nose out onto the gournd when we hike together?”

            “Why does she steal frood from my plate and then refuse to share her own?”

            “Does he have to use the word ‘like’ in every other sentence as if he were the word’s only sponsor? And why does he always chew with his mouth open and make smacking noises when he drinks soup?”

            Now comes the time for fight or flight. If the reward of your beloved-but-irritating one’s company outweights the annoyance of her habits, then, in the name of your relationship, fight the impulse to end the relationship whenever she smacks her lips together or he winks with a nervous tick: Now skip to Phase V.

            If the reward of companionship isn’t greater than your annoyance, then it’s time for the next step…

Phase IV: Getting Out

            An old roommate of mine fiercely believes that getting out of a relationship is harder than getting into one. Perhaps you’re shaking your head in exuberant agreement with him this very minute.

            I can only offer these suggestions for ending a relationship:

  • You’ve developed a terminal illness that limits your capacity for commitment;
  • You’re moving away and never coming back (I’ve used this one a lot);
  • Your dog misses you;

Or the tried and true heartbreaker:

  • I love you but I’m not in love with you…” (Ouch!)

Or you could try something entirely novel…like telling the truth. Though more difficult but karmically rewarding in the end, being honest will also ensure that you have a basis of friendship with your ex. Above all, to the best of your abilities and to the extent that the situation allows, remember to be kind. Life has a funny way of juxtaposing our lives with others over the course of time.

Phase V: Quitting the Addiction

            As romantic as this lifestyle appears to be, even a diehard like me hopes to one day meet someone who will inspire me to hang up my Serial Monogamist cap foever. If you do meet someone you love, do everything you can to make it last. Remember, you’re doing it for all the poor Serial souls out here caught in the loop.

            If you haven’t met someone you’re crazy about, don’t lose all hope. Just think of all those friendships with exes you have around the world and the thick address book you may one day possess (if you aren’t working on one already). Despair not, the Serial Monogamy lifestyle, though halfway rewarding, won’t go on forever. If it did, there’s be far fewer marriages.

            It is estimated that more than 3,000 confirmed and 1500 unconfirmed (and in denial) Serial Monogamists reside in Santa Barbara County.


Copyright Rachel S. Thurston 2010. All rights reserved.
Email: rachel@rsthurston.com
Last Updated November 22, 2010.