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Confessions of a Former Serial Dater


The primary time I used to be referred to as a serial dater was by my roommate, after I admitted to her that I had two dates arrange with two totally different guys on the identical day. I keep in mind being nervous that the primary one wouldn’t finish in time for the subsequent. The second time was when my buddy Nikki failed to ask me to her film evening as a result of she assumed I already made plans to satisfy up with somebody from a relationship app.

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After ending my engagement to my fiancé in June 2018, after which later formally splitting up, I went by a interval of exploration, as most singles do after ending long-term relationships. (And, consider, this was lengthy earlier than all issues coronavirus.) I downloaded a number of relationship apps and even began to work together with among the males I discovered enticing on my subway commute. This resulted in a number of dates.

I used to be clear about my intentions from the beginning. Getting right into a severe relationship proper after my damaged engagement simply wasn’t one thing I used to be prepared for. However relationship was good for my vanity. It helped me know that I used to be nonetheless lovable and fascinating at a time when it was simple to doubt my self-worth. Many relationship therapists, the truth is, suggest relationship round after a breakup.

At first, the exchanges felt liberating. However the extra first dates I went on, the extra obsessed I grew to become with assembly new individuals and the much less I loved relationship the identical individuals time and again. Little did I do know, my relationship habits had been shortly turning into extra of a egocentric pastime than my unique intentions.

There are distinctive reasons, Dr. Sherman says, for falling into the habit. Enter the traits of serial daters: those who consciously look to have fun and don’t want anything serious; who love the thrill of the chase and the power of romancing many partners; who fear commitment but also fear loneliness; who have attachment issues; who actually enjoy the glamour of the single lifestyle; who date to get narcissistic needs fulfilled; and who are confused and don’t really know what they want.

They’re typically easy to spot. “They can be charming and smooth, but they are only into things as long as they stay fun,” Dr. Sherman said. “They have a history of shorter relationships and are usually the one to break things off.”

Not surprisingly, serial daters often remain active on dating apps, she added, in order to keep their options open, as they continue to see other people while keeping others on the back burner.

I first became aware of my serial habits as I began swiping on dating apps while heading home from a date. It wasn’t that my first dates were terrible — it was just too easy to match with someone else and meet someone new. My serial habit became even more clear when I started to go on more first dates than outings with friends.

Dr. Sherman says the culture surrounding apps makes serial dating more common. “It’s like a feast instead of famine because there are so many prospects,” she said. “After you end things you can just get on the app again to get another date.”

Well aware of these habits, some dating apps, like Coffee Meets Bagel and Hinge, have implemented limits. Justin McLeod, the founder of Hinge, the dating app that prides itself as “designed to be deleted,” says his service allows users to like only up to 10 people per day. This helps to reduce the chance of developing an overwhelming inbox filled with numerous matches.

“We want to get people moving offline and out on dates and not stuck in always looking for the next thing, whether in the app or offline later,” Mr. McLeod said. “Ultimately we aren’t limiting our users, but the design of our app slows them down and forces them to choose what they really like about a person.”

Providing everyone with the same number of daily likes per day puts everyone on the same playing field. Hinge profiles also require users to write three prompts and choose six photos.

Most dating apps expect users to contact multiple people at once. And some dating experts think it’s a good idea to do that, at least initially. Dr. Sherman suggests her clients contact 15 prospects a week since they may only win one or two dates out of that effort. Serial daters never seem to leave this mode.

“The headache and heartache come in when the serial dater is unwilling or unable to be honest about it,” Dr. Carmichael said. “But most don’t realize what they’re doing. They might sincerely believe that they haven’t met the right person and be unaware that they have a fear of intimacy or use dating as some big source of validation or entertainment.”

Dr. Carmichael believes a solution lies in serial daters being more explicit in their intentions, so long as they’re aware of what they’re doing. Not everyone is dating for the same reasons.

“Everyone isn’t searching for an exclusive monogamous relationship with an end goal of marriage,” she said. “It’s OK to enjoy getting to know new people and have different experiences with new people. It just often isn’t communicated or goes unnoticed, and that’s when things get difficult.”

Since discovering my habits of serial dating, and ultimately ending up with tons of unsaved phone numbers and very little love, I’ve pushed myself to slow down on dating over all.

I now limit myself to no more than two dates a week with two different people, and I always give someone at least a second date if the first encounter wasn’t terrible. We’re rarely our true selves on a first date and it’s impossible to fully get to know someone in an hour or so. A second meeting can provide a more lucid understanding of the people I’m seeing.

Additionally, I stop swiping once I enter a satisfying chat and only revisit swiping if I’m absolutely out of options.

The idea of being highly dated has been somewhat rewarding — I’m the resident dating adviser of my friend group, I’ve met tons of interesting people, and I’ve learned to vet like a pro. But at the end of the day, I’ve developed a much more stimulating dating life once I started to involve fewer people — and once social distancing is over, I will begin again.

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