The Serial Dater

Hi Toni--

I am a thirty something, professional, financially successful male. While I have an extensive dating background, I have never had a long term, committed relationship. My pattern has been to ask out a woman I find attractive, go out a few times and then find something wrong with her and basically make myself unavailable when she calls and/or emails. I see this behavior as immature and believe that I have really begun to outgrow it. I actually think about how nice it would be to meet a great girl and settle down. The problem? I never seem to meet girls that live up to my expectations or have all the qualities I'm looking for. I think I'm a pretty good catch and all my friends agree. Can you offer me any advice to help me find the woman of my dreams? --Guy With High Standards

Dear Guy With High Standards--

I think the answer to your question lies in your comment " I never seem to meet girls that live up to my expectations." I think it's very possible that you BELIEVE you want commitment and marriage, however I have to question if this is true.

You appear to be a classic "serial dater." This is a man or woman who fears commitment and can be very creative in how they go about avoiding entanglements. There is no one type of SD. The symptoms can vary from person to person, so knowing if you are one can only be determined by your dating history and behavior. For instance, you are a 30 something year old man who has never had a long-term relationship (red flag). You say that you WANT to settle down but can't find anyone who meets your criteria. With all the great women out there, you haven't met anyone? (Red flag). You get my drift.

My first piece of advice is to work on you before attempting serious dating. It's fine to date for fun, but be aware that someone may get hurt if you tell the women you are going out with that you are looking for Ms Right. During your dating for fun period, you should do some work on relationship readiness. This involves assessing your desire for, and ability to build and maintain a healthy, long-term relationship. In order to do this you will need to examine your beliefs and attitudes about relationships and marriage, and take a deep look at how they have shaped your values and goals. I suspect that you will find some issues there that will require coaching or counseling or both.

You will never meet and marry a perfect woman, for no such person exists. The fact that you have told yourself this is a realistic goal tells me that you have set the bar very high so that no one will ever cross it. When you really want love and marriage, Ms Right will come with many flaws that you will view as charming characteristics that make her uniquely her and just right for you.

(from August 2005)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"He Pays, She Pays- A New Dating Norm?"
List of more
"Help With Dating"

"Always the girl friend, Never the Girlfriend"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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