Is Serial Monogamy Actually a Thing?


When it comes to romantic relationships in the modern world, two concepts are usually discussed – monogamy and polyamory. These are two extremes, two opposites, and different worlds. But few people think that there is a bridge between them – something that combines monogamous Puritanism and polyamorous freedom: this is serial monogamy. But what is its concept? Is serial monogamy actually a thing? Let’s go into the matter!

What is serial monogamy?

In some measure, the concept of serial monogamy (“monogamy” is a love relationship between one man and one woman) turns to traditional marriage, though at the same time, opposes it. In fact, serial monogamy is a compromise between traditional family values, when there is just one life partner, and a craving for free life and love not burdened with obligations. Serial monogamy is build on secure family life with all its nuances, including maintaining relations with a spouse’s parents, fidelity, common budget, household, leisure, etc. However, there are no long-lasting obligations. The partners do not have affairs or cheat on each other – they simply break up relations with a loved one to start everything with a clean slate but already with another person.

Serial monogamy in the modern era

Today, the average number of romantic partners of people from developed countries is from 5 to 7 during their lifetime. Moreover, the number of marriages in almost all OECD countries is rapidly falling, and the number of divorces is growing.

The fact is that, despite the sexual revolution and the establishment of the principle of freedom of relationships between people, polyamory and betrayals are still not welcomed by society. After all, people want fidelity in relationships. Thus, serial monogamy is becoming common practice for modern people: partners do not cheat on each other or chat single ladies, they simply end their relationship and begin a new life with someone else.

There is even a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. By nature, just 3-4 years of monogamy are quite enough for childbearing and giving birth. It is precisely such a “lifespan” of monogamy that has been confirmed by the studies of anthropologist Helen Fisher. She performed a brain MRI of people who were in a state of acute infatuation and those who were in a more prolonged relationship. It turned out that after 3-4 years, the work of the “reward system” of the brain that produces dopamine ceases to be so excited in response to the presence of the same partner.

Also, serial monogamy seems to be a logical mechanism in terms of evolution. On the one hand, it allows a woman to form stable couples during pregnancy and feeding a baby. On the other hand, it gives the woman an opportunity to get offspring from different men, and this provides genetic diversity.

From the point of view of biologists, monogamous relationships are utopia. But people are not only biology, hormones, and instincts. People are also mind, choice, and will. Although infatuation, as you already know, passes after about three years of relations, love still remains there – and this is a strong feeling that can hold relationships for years and decades. Although nowadays, serial monogamy is a thing, nobody knows how the situation will turn in the future. Well, as they say, everyone to his trade. The main thing is not to torment those with whom you build relationships and be honest in your feelings.