Do You Feel Like You Are Constantly In and Out of Relationships?iStock_000014892531_Small

  • Are you usually the doing the breaking up and rarely the one broken up with?
  • Do you often feel deeply infatuated with you partner until the feelings of love and connection suddenly disappear?
  • Have you started and ended relationships without ever feeling close to your partner?
  • Do you find yourself looking for “the one,” but you feel you just haven’t found him or her yet?
  • Are you currently in a relationship, but you fear it will end – just as they always do?
  • Do you feel established and successful in other aspects of your life and wonder why relationships just don’t seem to work out for you?
  • Maybe you think that if a relationship is “right,” it shouldn’t require a lot of hard work and discomfort?
  • Are you looking for a way to find a lasting, satisfying relationship?

If you have spent a decade or more moving in and out of relationships, you may wonder if romantic relationships are for you. Perhaps all of your friends are partnering up, getting married or having children, while you increasingly feel as though you might just be too independent for a lasting partnership of your own. You may be tired of being perceived as “the bad guy” or “a heartbreaker.” Or, perhaps you don’t want to hurt those you once cared for. Maybe you know that you want to be in a lasting relationship, but haven’t met the person who is right for you yet.

Maybe you aren’t sure what is preventing you from feeling satisfied with a partner. You may have a great career, good health and a wonderful group of friends, but can’t seem to find a partner who is everything you want him or her to be. You may fear that something is “wrong” with you, but you just aren’t sure what. Regardless of your past and your current relationship status, you might wonder how you can move forward with trust, openness and optimism for the future. Maybe you are getting sick of getting excited about relationships only to be disappointed.

Many People Feel Stuck Searching for “The One”

Relationships are challenging, and finding a partner with whom you can be open, fulfilled and comfortable can be difficult. Sometimes, our past experiences can affect our dating styles in ways we have not imagined. For example, you may have had a strong relationship with your father, and now you compare every potential partner to him. Or, your parent may have been alcoholic, mentally ill or needy in some way. You know you don’t want that in a partner, but somehow you keep finding out that you are dating people who need you to take care of them.

If you are gay, you may not have considered marriage as a viable option until recently. You may have lived through the AIDS epidemic and started your dating life with the fear that you wouldn’t live long enough to form a lifelong relationship. Or, you might have no idea why your relationships don’t work out. You just know that you lose interest quickly.

Both online and in-person, many people on the dating scene are afraid to be vulnerable, and a lasting relationship requires vulnerability. A serial dater often has a mental checklist of all of his or her desired traits for a partner. While you deserve a partner who fulfills your desires, your checklist might actually be impossible to fill, or it may change under different circumstances. For example, maybe you have both “independent” and “available” on the list. Maybe you want your partner to have his or her own fulfilling career, but you find yourself feeling resentful if that career seems to be a higher priority than you.  Maybe you want to feel valued  but get turned off by partners who are “too nice” or “pushovers”.

Or, maybe you enter relationships with people knowing that they possess traits that will eventually drive you away, but you push that out of your mind at the beginning. You may have entered into a long-distance relationship already knowing, somewhere inside of you, that it wouldn’t work out. Maybe you are afraid to pursue the sort of person you really want to be with, so you only allow yourself to get involved with people who don’t really measure up to what you want in a partner. Even if you now fear that you may never find the right person for you, there is hope for breaking out of negative patterns and finding love and happiness in a relationship.

Therapy Can Help a Serial Dater Create Fulfilling Relationships

Since 1991, I have worked to help individuals of every background and sexual identity come to understand the relationship patterns that may be impeding their search for lasting companionship and love. Working primarily with individuals in their 30s, 40s and 50s in this area, I have helped many people learn to let go of the mythology of “the one” so that they can meet someone who can be the loving, supportive partner they deserve.

If you are viewed as a serial dater or serial monogamist, or if you identify with this page, you may have what’s called an avoidant or an ambivalent attachment style. This means that you may – consciously or unconsciously – fear being vulnerable to hurt or rejection, and you may act out of fear without being aware of it. You may keep an impossible checklist in your mind just because it is just that – impossible. In therapy, I can help you analyze your reasoning behind your checklist and uncover what is truly holding you back from making a deep connection with another person. For many people, it is easier to reject others than face rejection themselves, which leads to unconscious self-sabotage. Together, we can link the unconscious mind with the conscious so that you can make important connections between where you have come from and where you are now.

So often, no matter how smart or capable we are, we do not see or completely understand our own behavioral patterns. With the guidance of a compassionate but removed perspective, you can begin to identify and recognize your relationship patterns and uncover the real issues behind them. I can help you trust others and let go of some of the fears that are holding you back from long-term commitment. In addition, I can help you understand the choices you are making about whom to date. If you associate relationships with dependency and vulnerability, I can teach you ways to embrace interdependency and partnership.

Through therapy, you can begin to feel comfortable with emotions that you may not have thought you were capable of before. You can stop being a serial dater and begin to create the relationship you are longing for. Without old hidden barriers in your way, you can begin to actually see the potential partners with whom you can be happy and fulfilled. You deserve a loving partner who accepts you for you, vulnerabilities and all.

shutterstock_20476199 (1)You may believe that you are a serial dater who needs help breaking old patterns, but still have questions or concerns…

Counseling is going to force me to settle for a relationship that I don’t really want.

It is important for us to explore what the word “settling” means. I would never encourage you to feel like you have sacrificed important values or opportunities for an unfulfilling relationship. However, sometimes people say “settling” when they really mean they will never compromise or change anything about their behaviors. You may view compromise or accountability to another person as a threat to your independence and identity. If so, it may be important and useful for you to discuss and unpack this fear with an experienced therapist.

I’m not a serial dater or a serial monogamist. I just haven’t met the right person yet. How can therapy help me do that?

In our culture, most of us grow up with stories, movies and media perpetuating the mythology of “the one.” However, it can be harmful to always be seeking a fairytale happily ever after. Every potential partner you meet with has some wonderful strengths and some flaws. Long-term relationships include occasional irritation along with security and love. Successful relationships do require work and risk. In therapy, I can help you determine if you have been exaggerating the flaws of others while ignoring your own internal hang-ups or worries. No one is perfect, but for two imperfect people to find and accept one another, it is important to be comfortable with your own flaws and fears.

I’m afraid that therapy will force me to face some dark sides of myself that I’ve buried for a reason.

You may have a feeling that you have hidden issues from yourself, just as you have hidden them from those around you. While it can be uncomfortable to face ourselves, it is important to recognize that your buried issues are already influencing – if not controlling – your thoughts and actions. I call that difficult part of you “the monkey.” Don’t let the monkey drive! By building a bridge between the unconscious and the conscious, I can help you feel okay with those things that have caused you pain. You don’t have to run from that dark side your whole life. Instead, in therapy, you can learn to accept your whole self and get off the gerbil wheel of serial dating, too.

If you are ready to break out of old patterns and address dating issues, I invite you to call me at (415) 294-5007 for a free 15-minute phone consultation to ask any questions you have about therapy and my practice.