I have a friend who is a serial monogamist. I love her to death and she knows this, but she does not feel comfortable with herself unless she’s in a calm, stable relationship with someone. And every time she says this to me I get upset and start to feel like the village harlot. It’s just a perspective on life I don’t really understand. I mean, shouldn’t you like being single before you sign-up for a relationship?
A few weeks ago my friend broke up with her boyfriend of several years all because he cheated on her with the girl they had a three-way with once, and the dude left my friend for the other girl. That’s some Judge Mathis drama right there. But I know it’s hard when you break up with someone you’ve been with for so many years because you get locked into a routine — a comfortable routine, but a cycle you don’t think will ever break. You’re almost never prepared for it to break when it does.
I’ve tried to be the encouraging friend, the friend who goes to dance clubs with her, the friend who tries to calm her and talk her through her ex’s neuroses. You know the drill — trying to convince your best friend that they are the one who is the least cray. Good riddance! You’re better off without him! No, no, it was definitely not you. It was absolutely him!
But then my friend said something that really confused me. She said, “I have to find another boyfriend. I have to get in another relationship.” You can probably attribute that to the early pains of breaking up, because when you break up with someone you care about you start to feel hollow, empty, like you’re in a state of shock because a part of your daily routine and a fact of your life for the past several years is no longer there. You have to readjust.
“I think that’s a bad idea,” I told her. I’m not anti-relationships. It’s just that my friend is someone who has had maybe 4 boyfriends in life total and has been dating someone continuously ever since we first met a decade ago. She’s skipped from boyfriend-to-boyfriend with virtually no pause in between.
“You should just enjoy being single right now,” I said. “You’re too young to settle down and have babies, anyway. You’re in New York for crying out loud! Go out, drink cosmos, meet people, work on your career, take that scriptwriting class you’ve always wanted to take, have a one-night stand. You know, do all those things you are not supposed to do — or the things you put off for later — when you are in a serious relationship.”
When you’re in a relationship you are always accountable for where you are, who you’re hanging out with, why you haven’t texted back or called, staying in when you really want to go to the club, and suppressing elements of yourself that you wouldn’t if you were single.
Of course, I don’t think a one-night stand is the catchall answer to any break-up woes, but there’s something to be said about how when we go through tough breakups, the first thing we think about is almost always to go out and get some new D or V. Years ago when I was living in Paris I was dating this French guy and I was SO READY to get pacsé, ditch America and live a nice, long life of wine, baguettes, cultural misunderstandings. Then one day he just up and broke up with me. Like out of nowhere. Well FINE. Later that night I was determined to go get some D, but when I actually found someone and we got back to his place, I broke down in tears and told him I couldn’t do it, that I just broke up with someone hours earlier.
Even though one-night stands are never the answer, neither is serial monogamy. Both are meant to plug in bigger holes, and being in a relationship or having meaningless sex with stranger distracts you from the personal issues you should be dealing with. If you are a serial monogamist, it means that you don’t love yourself enough to be alone. It means you’re afraid to be alone. It might even mean that you don’t really, truly love yourself.
If you don’t love yourself, how can you love someone in the context of a relationship? We shouldn’t put our entire self-confidence and self-worth in the hands of other people, because loving yourself is the hardest kind of love there is.