My generation doesn’t know how to date, at least most of us don’t. There’s a prevailing thought that relationships are based on ‘hookups’. Gone are the days of courting, as my parents called it. The new precursor is a few dates and then a tipsy and often awkward ‘hookup’. That’s followed by a few text messages in which both parties try to play catch up and learn about each other so that it doesn’t feel so cheap. Emotionally, we’re a lost generation and only a few of us grow out of it, perhaps secretly desiring the types of stable relationships our parents had. But for far too many of us, the reality is serial dating.
Serial Dating is exactly what it sounds like, a string of relationships. Some may last a few months to a year, and others may sustain a few weeks. These types of relationships are usually never defined, which means they never reach a critical point where each party is forced to make the grownup decision of being ‘labeled’ as boyfriend and girlfriend. In most cases, at least one person in the party will say something to the effect of, “I just don’t do well with labels,” or “Why does it have to be a ‘thing’?” This is a red flag and a pretty asinine idea. When faced with these statements, a person should reevaluate the relationship they are in. If they are looking for something stable, they won’t find it in the serial dater.
The inherent tragedy of the serial dater is that they waste their time and the other party’s too. Sure, in your 20s, you may find yourself dating here and there in college. You’re young and still learning about what you desire. However, once you hit 30, if you are unable to sustain a meaningful and stable relationship, then there’s something amiss. It’s even more dangerous if you’re a woman because you’re devouring your child bearing years with people you could never envision procreating with. The question is why do we do this? Is it that we simply are afraid of commitment? Or are we wounded from past relationships where we really gave it our all and were cheated on? Or are we just selfish?
Sometimes we serial date on purpose—we usually choose people that we could never see marrying. It’s a way to not get attached. This usually blows up in our faces, as we forge an emotional bond whether we like it or not. I’m not saying everyone should settle into a relationship and get married. There are some people who really would be terrible spouses and terrible parents. But for those who are just too afraid to commit to something meaningful because they don’t want to get hurt, I say stop living in fear. Every relationship comes with risk. It’s a dream to believe that there aren’t going to be risks involved—none of us are living in a romantic comedy. In the real-world people get hurt, but we learn from it because we must. Sometimes we get over that hurt and sometimes we carry it for a while. However, it doesn’t break us, we just learn what to look for in a partner—things that signal longevity. It’s hard, yes, but anything worth the salt is going to be.
The only solution to this, is not to compromise. If you know what you want, what you’re worth, then go out and get it. Don’t allow the need for companionship to cloud your judgement. Sometimes a night of loneliness is far better than a morning of awkwardness. Have faith that in time, you will find what you’re looking for. But if you give into the serial dating cycle, that person you really should be with might just pass you by while you’re wasting daylight.