What you need to know:
- But he is never ready for marriage as he hops from one relationship to the next.
The serial monogamist is part of the new dating trend.
Women who have been with a serial monogamist say that it's not all roses and chocolates.
You may have encountered hi-m. The man who is always in a 'serious' long term relationship even when his single friends are painting the town red and sowing wild oats and his married friends are running around with younglings behind their wives' backs.
The man who will prick his eye with a stick before he cheats on his partner but should that relationship end, he will quickly move onto the next serious one. He is a serial monogamist.
Urban dictionary describes the serial monogamist as someone who jumps from one relationship immediately into another one. The serial monogamist is different from the serial dater who dates several people at the same time but will not be tied down to anyone of them.
While the serial dater will take you on numerous dates, spend money on you, warm your bed but if you ask him, "What are we?", he will run for the hills, the serial monogamist gets serious with you only.
While the serial monogamist is unlikely to make the ultimate commitment of marriage, he is not afraid of relationship titles and when he gets with you, he is faithful, attentive, and maybe even romantic.
In a society where cheating is seen as a normal part of a relationship, and every second man hitting on a woman has a wife and child at home, one might wonder what could be wrong with having a man who looks at only you. Lots. Women who have been with a serial monogamist say that it's not all roses and chocolates.
"I should have caught a red flag when he told me that he couldn't have casual sex," 31-year-old Nelly Reji speaks about a man she broke up with about six months ago. At the time, she thought it cute that while most of the other men who looked her way were only after physical intimacy, here was a man who wanted a more meaningful connection.
Everything happened fast. One day they were having their first date and barely three weeks later, she had met some of his family members and he was talking about a future together.
"In a few days, we jumped from hello to the six months' stage where we were in a committed relationship," she says. She says there is truth in the phrase that you need to thrive as an individual before you can grow together as a couple.
This, she learnt about six months into the relationship when she realised that their relationship was his whole identity. As a result, he struggled with insecurity and became very possessive of her to the point of obsession. He would randomly drop by her clothes shop in the Nairobi CBD, sometimes more than once a day just to 'check-in'.
"At first, it was great knowing that he would not stray but then he also expected too much from me and I began seeing why his string of committed relationships hadn't worked despite him having many good qualities. Towards the end, his possessiveness turned physical and I left," she says.
In retrospect, she says, "I think he was obsessed with the idea of being in this happy, functioning relationship, not with me," she says.
Addiction or dedication?
At the top of the list of every woman who is seeking to be in a relationship is the requirement that the man who sets his sights on her be only hers.
According to Jennifer Kuria, 34, it ceases being too attractive when he has had this deep connection with every woman he has been with. Jennifer was in a relationship with a serial monogamist for a year in 2017 and part of 2018.
"I was happy that he had only seriously dated four women before me but I had mixed feelings about the fact that he had lived with all of them. I told myself that maybe he was just a man who liked commitment," she recalls the earlier days of that relationship.
The cracks began showing pretty fast. Right from the beginning, he kept talking about and comparing her to his immediate ex which she found annoying.
"I came to learn that they'd broken up the same week we met meaning the two relationships had overlapped and he hadn't had time to process the breakup. It's like he had been searching for his ex's replacement while still in the relationship."
She admits there were good days when he was present, attentive, and affectionate. It's however the baggage from his former relationships that finally did them in.
"When you live with someone for more than a year, you carry baggage with you when you leave. Now imagine having lived with four women. We would go to family gatherings and relatives who were meeting me for the first time would ask him if he was finally going to marry this one. I could tell they had seen all of this before. I knew what was going to happen but I wasn't going to stick around to find out how it would end."
A month after their breakup, she heard that he was in another serious relationship. Today, two years since they broke up, he lives with another woman.
What is wrong with him?
A study by researchers from the University of London found that while women are happiest when they settle with their first love, men are happiest when they are serial monogamists. When they have a series of exclusive sexual relationships where they are faithful, but never making the ultimate commitment of marriage. If these findings are anything to go by, it means that serial monogamy is more common than we think.
It means that contrary to popular belief, our dating scene is littered with men who are most comfortable when in an exclusive, long-term relationship.
Men who, if a woman dumps him, his first reaction will be to try and get into another relationship. And if he initiates a breakup, he makes sure to have another woman lined up so that he will not be single.
The idea of sexual exclusivity is appealing to the average woman but dating the serial monogamist comes with its unique set of challenges. The fact that he is constantly searching for a soul mate means that this man might be reckless with his heart and might love irresponsibly meaning he is likely to come with emotional scars.
Also, every end of a relationship is like a death that needs to be mourned, so how does a man who scouts for a new relationship so he can leave his current one to heal? He doesn't.
The psychology behind him
The assumption is that the player, the man who runs at the mention of the word 'exclusive' is the only one with commitment issues but apparently not. According to Mr. Bernard Ndung'u, a Nairobi based psychologist, even the serial monogamist has commitment issues.
"A man like this is committed to the idea of being in love. He will be more comfortable while in a relationship but will be subconsciously terrified at the idea that this could happen only once in a lifetime."
He could also be a perfectionist; he will be a perfect partner while in a relationship but will be unable to commit to just one person for a lifetime so he moves from one committed relationship to the other leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake.
In comparison with a relationship with a player, he reckons that being with a serial monogamist can be fulfilling while it lasts.
"This man is afraid of being alone meaning he is more accommodating, maybe more attentive and his first reaction to a fight will not be to walk out. Unfortunately, his relationship patterns will keep him from committing in the long-term," he says.
Consulting anthropologist Bernard Moseti on the other hand thinks that our increased life expectancy may have something to do with the rise of this dating trend.
"We are now living for longer meaning that if you commit to one partner for a lifetime then it's for a longer time. This can scare some people," he explains.
Is it all bad?
So would you rather be in a relationship with a player who dates several women at once or one who commits to a string of monogamous relationships? I pose to 35-year-old Wangu Muchoki. Wangu who is now happily married offers that she prefers the player. This is how she sees it, "The player doesn't commit as much as the serial monogamist meaning that while both relationships end up in a breakup, a break up with the player will be less personal and easier to handle."
So what is the woman who finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance with a man who is in love with being in love left to do? According to the psychologist, like most harmful human behaviors, change for the serial monogamist can only come from within and it happens more effectively when he is self-aware.