For most, in the current economy, it would be unwise to leave a job without having a plan, a backup, or a new workplace to go to. Not only does this ensure you more security and stability in the immediate future, but it reflects well upon you to not leave gaps in your employment history. Being successful in the job market very much demands a strategy, but is it right to apply the same strategy to your relationships?
We all know somebody who is always in a relationship and hasn’t truly been single for several years. And if we’re honest, we’re probably fed up of them. That warm and fuzzy feeling of seeing that friend all loved up wore off 3 partners ago.
The phenomenon I’m referring to is known as ‘serial monogamy’ or ‘anuptaphobia’. A serial monogamist or anuptaphobic feels that they are unable to be single. So much so, that they refuse to end a relationship – even if unhealthy or abusive – until they have somebody else in the pipeline. This need to seemingly drag out failing relationships until a suitable replacement has been found should not be confused with being mature and committed to all partners. Although they may give the impression that they’re being patient and trying to work things out, in reality, they’re just avoiding being alone.
The issue for those that date a serial monogamist, is that, at least to begin with, you’re just another stepping stone across lake Single Forever. By not allowing themselves time to reflect and heal from their previous relationship, they drag all their baggage over to you and may hold unrealistic expectations of you as their remedy. Although they may become very fond of you, your initial purpose is merely to fill a void, to provide them with love and attention and be with them so that they never have to attend events alone. Unfortunately, even if you succeed in those tasks, it doesn’t guarantee that they won’t get bored and move on, potentially being unfaithful before the official break off as they’re already scouting their next recruit.
When we think of serial monogamists, it’s difficult not to pass judgement. We might speculate on their mental health or consider them as immoral, even parasitic in some cases. But in reality, they are not unfeeling – they are motivated by the prospect of having a rewarding relationship. The real issue is within themselves. Like a romance chameleon, they will adapt to suit their current partner and reciprocate their affection, but outside of being affectionate, they lack an identity. Do they just need to be single for a while?
Sometimes, a lengthy stretch of singledom can be one of the most defining and beneficial periods of our lives. After the end of a relationship, we need to deconstruct and rebuild ourselves and there’s no reason that this can’t be a fun process. We get to try new things as well as the old, to find out more about what we enjoy as a single entity, rather than as part of a unit. We can ‘play the field’ and get an idea of what is out there – as long as our dates are aware that we don’t intend to take it any further (or at least not right now).
The benefit of a good amount of time spent single is that when you’re ready for a new relationship, you go into it knowing who you are and what you’re looking for, making you less likely to take on someone that is clearly not right for you to begin with.
My personal break-up strategy after a long-term relationship does not mirror changing jobs. In fact, it’s barely a strategy. It’s more like pretending that you fell out of a tree and broke your arm. You need to take time out to adapt and do things differently whilst it heals. And most importantly, you need to be fully recovered before you climb another tree.
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