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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
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will a serial monagamist stay in one relationship forever

Customer Question

will a serial monagamist stay in one relationship forever
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.

Hi! I'll be glad to be of help with this issue.

Your question, even though it was just a few short words, reveals the tremendous pain and confusion that serial monogamy can lead to. I'm referring both in terms of the person who's in a relationship with the serial monogamist and the serial monogamist himself/herself. Though it is considered much more common in men, women can also exhibit these behavior traits.


The hallmark of true serial monogamy is that the person truly and sincerely XXXXX XXXXX to be a lifelong or at least long lasting relationship. The sad ironic part of it is that this desire is offset by a tremendous psychological fear of being in a truly intimate relationship. A truly intimate relationship is marked by not just physical intimacy, but by emotional commitment and stability of emotions.


The serial monogamist's internal psychology is that he/she has emotional conflicts internally and finds it so difficult to truly bond in a meaningful way with another person other than physically. And so when the other person begins to bond emotionally to him/her, it becomes a conflict for the monogamist. And he/she over time cannot handle the reciprocity, the giving back of emotional loyalty and caring, of truly sharing himself or herself. And so they leave and repeat the process over and over.


Can this change?


Yes, just like other psychological problems can be worked on and dealt with. Most often this needs to be done in psychotherapy. If the serial monogamist is in a relationship, this can be worked on in couples therapy that is geared toward helping that partner cope with handling the emotional closeness and not becoming "restless" and needing to get away. In general, therapy is a requisite part of the serial monogamist staying in a relationship for the long term.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5111
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
Dr. Mark and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I have been dating a man who was married for 28years but all the while sleeping with other women. He said his wife stoped having sex with him so they got help and she refused to work on the problem. He was in several long term relationships during and after their divorce. When I first met him eight months ago he was with someone who he said had left him 4 times over a three year period. She accused him of not being faithful. Which is the truth. I am wondrering he says he is emotionaly and pyhicaly commeted to me long term and wants to marry me in 5 to 10 years. I want to know if he can truly be faithfull.

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Mark has done a good job of describing the general problems of the type you began your question with. But your present elaboration points to more specific issues than the general ones Mark approached. I've studied some patterns in the series of relationships that people can engage in over what sounds here like 40 years. If your loverman is just excusing his sexual affairs by saying "she hurt me first!" then Mark's approach is still very useful.

 

But if he really did just start splitting sex off from love when his wife denied him sex, instead of divorcing her then, have you asked him WHY he stayed? Could be children, but it also could be a paradoxical kind of love that actually thrives on adversity, because some elements of intimacy DID occur, intermittently perhaps, but because of that all the more INTENSE when that intimacy was there. It's neat, but oversimplified to assume there are only 2 types of intimacy, sexual and emotional. For in fact there can be intellectual, work-collaborativeco-parental, creative/artistic, spiritual, crisis (facing outside challenges together, like with a suffering child), conflict (like fighting and then making up)--and some combination of these could created an emotional pattern that kept them together through thick and thin.

 

And the point of this possibility is that even if it was an unhealthy pattern, it could have been the most powerful bonding that either of them had ever had--even to this day. So he might have not ever gotten over the unusual intensity he had with his exwife, which could have made him both cheat on later partners and lose interest in them after the early passion (1-3yrs) had subsided. Bottom line, he's either addicted to the mix&match 2 partners solution to his personal needs, or he's not over whatever got him stuck in the first great love for 28 yrs.

 

Waiting 5 to 10 yrs to marry sounds ridiculous on the face of it; and it implies that he still has some attachments to exwife and/or past habits that he blithely assumes he'll need that long to get behind him. Or he's become a narcissistic lover who schemes to get himself 5-10 years guilt-free tryout period with each woman he wants, so he's well covered well beyond the 3 yrs it normally takes to wear out sexual passion with any one person (unless you're hooked on trying to turn uncertainty into security and chasing the one who keeps getting away). IT'S A BIG LOVE TRAP TO CHASE THE CHALLENGE OF TAMING THIS "WILD MAN."

 

So Mark is right, and I would throw the challenge back at him that you're now tempted to swallow hook-line&sinker yourself: Your challenge to him would be: I'll quit you NOW unless you carefully search out a very well-trained therapist and commit to working for at least 2 years. And that means seeking out psychodynamic (postFreudian&Jungian&other Unconscious-dynamics training and practice), not problem-focused or cognitive but long-term & personality-change focused, and old enough & with enough personal experience in therapy and as therapist to be impossible for the likes of him to fool.

 

Look up the 9 personality characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and count how many he seems to have--on the off-chance that he's not the victim of his exwife's frigidity but the perpetrator of multiple user-affairs. If he does have NPD, and is a liar also, then he won't embrace the challenge of working in therapy for change.

 

And I don't think that couples therapy is what you need with him. For unless the couples therapist is highly trained in psychodynamics and diagnosis and/or in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and readily consults with colleagues who know NPD and psychodynamics too, you'll be spinning your wheels trying to "win him away from all the rest" and he won't need to change. HE needs individual deep psychological work for personality change.

 

But if he won't take YOUR challenge, then you can leave him earlier than he's ready to dump you after wearing out his welcome. And you might be able to move on without as many scars on your self-esteem as if you'd stayed another year or two.

 

How much younger than he is are you? Is he so talented and successful that you are excited to be the woman that he (now) wants? Have many other of his partners been 10+ years younger too? That's a sure sign he's into predatory affairs in which he looks to himself and his prey like a much more accomplished person she'd admire. And that's exactly what a narcissistic partner needs.

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