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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

Dealing with Serial Dating

Last week, we discussed the concept of “serial dating.” As the topic has become more prevalent, it may be a good idea to explore the phenomenon more in-depth.

On the outside, the world of the serial dater may appear to be rife with disingenuousness, steeped in self-indulgent irresponsibility. The fact is that the very nature of serial dating, has a fly-by-night, transient feel to it, because anyone who cannot focus on getting to know someone, or continually disallows getting to know someone, for the mere fact that some minor flaw appears to exist, smacks of immaturity, on a very basic level.

For those individuals who will continue to defend serial dating, justifying it - while claiming that they do have serious relationship goals, the idea to consider here, is that whether or not those goals actually exist, the outward appearances remain contrary, and speak volumes. To quote an appropriate cliché: “actions speak louder than words.”


Serial dating might have become more common, due to the sheer number of people available through technology, for starters, and the fact that once embraced, it can be difficult to “crack.” Like any other addiction, it can be easy to fall prey to the rhythm of the “chase” – seeking, finding, communicating and meeting person after person. It’s hard to break the cycle, particularly when one gets accustomed to searching the endless databases of people posted on the Internet in dating websites, and on message boards.

The online dating business is a lucrative. According to 2007 statistics from Online Dating Magazine: Estimates of over 20 million people have visited at least one online dating service per month. In addition, at least 31% of adults have reported that they know of someone who has used an online dating service. Add to that, the over three million people who have reportedly paid for an online dating service, and those facts alone, would logically mean that it is the number of persons searching for others to date, that is the lifeblood of the online dating business. That being the case, it is no wonder then, that the business could very well be, perpetuated in part, by the serial dater.

The serial dating phenomenon is much like the perpetual student or job interviewer. While a student may eventually truly desire to graduate and move on to a career, the comfort of the classroom, the camaraderie and culture of learning and the socialization aspects, are very difficult to give up. A whole new mind-set needs to be adopted, with a plan and commitment to go with it, in order to make a change to “the real world.”

Giving up the serial dating routine, like any other routine, is like breaking any other habit. It first takes the true desire to do so, and then a replacement structure. The old rule of thumb, “Do what you always have, and you will always have the same thing,” comes to mind. To effect change, one must themselves, change. Many people are creatures of comfort and routine. What they do on a daily basis in their lives becomes what they know. And it is usually always easier to do what one knows, and is familiar with, than to try something new. So although a serial dater is always meeting new people, the chance of a relationship is always sabotaged, by their requirement of newness.

The other most important component, aside from the intention behind it, to dealing with any habit-breaking endeavor, is perseverance. Most would agree and attest to the fact, that in order to change habitual behavior, usually a great deal of effort is necessary.

Finding yourself in the cycle of serial dating, whether your own or someone else’s, can be disconcerting, to say the least. Rather than allowing yourself to continue in the cycle, and thus become disillusioned and disenchanted with dating, you may try instead, to really figure out and address, either your own or the motives of the serial dater that you are dealing with.

Oftentimes, the more apparent red flags of the serial dater may not be crystal clear – even if you are the one who is the serial dater. One way to discern whether or not someone is a serial dater is the old fashioned, “listen to what your gut tells you.” If someone seems less than interested, put off easily, or indifferent at every turn, it is probably much better not to waste time trying to win him or her over. Don’t ignore the signs. Dating is a two-way street, and any time that you feel or it seems like you are the one putting forth all of the effort, it’s a bad sign from the outset. Not only is it unfair, but also the reality is that a relationship that begins that way, usually stays that way, and rarely gets better with time. While there is always an exception to the rule, once the precedent is set, it is very difficult to back track and try to reverse behavior. Rather than being persistent with someone who does not appear to share your level of interest, it is best to withdraw from the situation.

If a person who you believed was not truly interested later contacts you, it is best to tread carefully. Always keep in mind, the reason you decided to turn your focuses elsewhere. If you do decide to give someone another try, always be aware of how that person’s goals align with yours. If you’re satisfied that you can deal with whatever that person’s motives are, then you can proceed. If not, it’s best to seek companionship elsewhere.

Ultimately, the best thing that you can do for yourself is try to find out if your initial assessment was correct, by addressing what their actual motives are, in some fashion. While many people don’t really wish to divulge this information – that, in and of itself, is a sign that this person is probably not on the same page as you are. The sooner you realize that, the better chance that you will not wind up being disappointed.

By using your own judgment, and again, trusting your intuition, you can determine how to proceed in the best way for yourself. As long as your own goals are always at the forefront, and you continue to be honest about what those goals are, you will succeed in using your time to your best advantage, as you continue on in your dating quests.

Related Links
» The Serial Dating Phenomenon
» Avoid Becoming a Professional Online Dater
» Reader Experience: Hooked on Online Dating

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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