What Is a Serial Dater?

What Is Serial Dating?

A “serial dater” is a person who has a large number of short term romantic, physical or sexual relationships, but seems unable to commit or remain in a romance relationship for any length of time.

Serial daters replace the comfort and intimacy of a “serious relationship” with a patchwork of relationships, often getting physical relations or intimacy, excitement or variety, friendship, and companionship from different people.

There’s some confusion between a serial dater and another type of person in the dating community, so let’s tackle that subject right off the bat.

Serial Dater or Player?

There is one difference in a “serial dater” and a “player”, though. The serial dater (ostensibly) has in mind establishing a serious relationship eventually, while the “player” has no such intention. The classic serial dater wants to be in a serious or long term relationship, but has a difficulty committing to a relationship, has intimacy issues, or has unrealistic standards in their love partners. Often, the serial dater is a romantic looking for “Mr. Right” or “Ms. Right”, but their dates continually come up short of this ideal.

Of course, there’s the chance that a person termed a serial dater is actually just a player, but for psychological or tactical reasons, chooses to identify themselves or portray themselves as something more like a serial dater.

Because many tv sitcoms depict serial daters for the sake of having a replenish-able source of comic situations, there’s a certain cultural charm and romance in the comic allure of the person who wants to settle down, but is unlucky in love, either because of their own quirks or the eccentricity of the people around them. Trying to have a dynamic social life is also a reason a person might become a serial dater, as they have their flavor of the week or flavor of the month.

The serial dater might be a person who is just perpetually in love, or “in love with the idea of being in love”. This is a centuries-old phenomenon, much like the Romeo character at the beginning of “Romeo & Juliet”. Some people enjoys the feeling of “falling in love”, only to have their high hopes, naive assumptions, or romantic illusions be disappointed upon getting to know the object of their affection a little better. As the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt.

Signs of a Serial Dater

Serial daters often use a number of different dating methods to attain their high level of social interaction with the opposite sex. In fact, any new type of dating technique is an opportunity to seek romance and companionship. Serial daters might use any of the following types of dating relationships, though these are not the only choices.

Serial Dating Options

  • Online Dating
  • Phone Dating
  • Traditional Bar Dating
  • One Night Stands
  • Friends with Benefits
  • Workplace Romances
  • Speed Dating
  • Blind Dating
  • Expiration Dating
  • Long Distance Relationships (Flirtations)

A few of these terms might need explanation. “Expiration dating” is when one of the people in the relationship will be moving on soon, such as moving away to college or a new job on the other side of the country, spending the summer (or vacation) in a separate location than where they live, doing a tour of duty in the military, and other such temporary residence situations (up to and including living with a terminal illness).

Long distance relationships can fill the role of the flirtation, friendship or romantic relationship, where the two maintain an intense online relationship or romance, but no physical contact. These relationships tend to involve the intimation of a more serious relationship at a later time, but truly have little chance of this ever happening.

Friends with benefits” is a case of a male and female who define themselves as friends having a casual sexual relationship with one another, but not a relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend. Sometimes called “more than friends”, this sexual relationship is supposed to involve “no emotions”. You might call it “friends by day and lovers by night”, but the term suggests that the petty jealousies related with many sexual or physical relationships do not exist. Often, this relationship sits on the fence between the friendship and the romantic relationship.

There can be different types of “friends with benefits”, from emotional/conversational flirtations, to making out that doesn’t go to the sexual level, to the (most common) full sexual relationship. In the former cases, these relationships might be called “friends with minor benefits”.

Serial Dater Psychology

It’s hard to pigeon-hole a whole group of people with one psychological profile, but we can look at various reasons why a person feels the need to date in volume.

One should not view the serial dater as fitting into just the “player in hiding” or the “lovable lover” archetypes. There might be longstanding psychological reasons or defense mechanisms at work that explain why a person is a serial dater. To begin with, men and women involved in serial dating tend to be gregarious personalities and extroverts who draw energy from time spent with other people, and who feel the need to have constant companionship and affirmation. On top of this, dating serially is likely to have other components.

  • No Danger of Being Alone – There is a pool of people out there you can social network with.
  • Romantic Challenges – “The Chase” is what drives them, needing the affirmation or challenge that coming from winning over an unattainable person.
  • Avoid Manipulation – Because they have one foot out the door, the person doesn’t have to contend with manipulative behavior.
  • Impatience – There’s no wasted time working on a serious relationship, because the serial dater can be involved in one (or more) physical relationships, while pursing a serious romance.

A Serial Dater Is…

Serial daters often fill their various needs from several parallel relationships, instead of inside one serious relationship. In the age of online dating, one can see how serial dating and Internet dating go hand-in-hand (in many cases). There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as both sides of the relationship are honest about their intentions, as well as about their past history of short term relationships.

In dating and relationships, sins of omission are often as serious as lies. Players tend to omit their life as a player, which is one of the definitions of being a player. So if you want to be a serial dater, let the people in your life know that serial dating is your lifestyle, or “problem”, or however it is you look at this part of your life. Otherwise, good luck finding what you’re searching for.


  1. mary sunshine says:

    match, chemistry, yahoo, CL they all hve the same serial daters on those sites. best to take your dog for a wlk and behappy in the moment.

  2. I am winding down a relationship with a serial dater. She even emails me and tells me who she is seeing, what they are like etc. Unfortunately she lies about these people and wants to ‘have her cake and eat it’. I have let her know that this is not possible. Good riddance I say.

  3. OMG I was really trying to find the terminology of the person that I just stopped dating and realize that this is him. I never dated a serial dater before because I don’t do the on-line dating thing too often. The reason I realized this was him was because he was adamant about giving me (from the very beginning) his online info to go into his acct to prove his loyalty to me. I refused at first and by his coaxing I went ahead and browsed his “in-box”. He must have forgotten that the day after our first date he reached out to a few other girls. The way that I finally reached out to him was because he hit me up a few times online and after a while and deciding to take my ad down, due to not meeting quality men and what I was looking for, I saw he reached out a few times and said “What the heck” and entertained him. Boy oh boy I wish I would have re-thought that or would have at least saw this article first. It would have saved me the heartache and stress. He came on SUPER STRONG and like I was the next best thing to sliced bread. Met the parents, some of the friends, the brothers, I got phone calls and texts day and night, the shout-outs on Facebook, I got the works!! Thru conversations tho red flags starting to come out and I was realizing that he had an abundance of female friends, many of whom he met online, but it just didn’t work out in that capacity but there still friends. There was the one girl he was trying to peg as crazy as hell that was consistently blowing up his phone and texting him when we first started dating. I didn’t buy into the crazy thing he was trying to say tho. I asked him what he may have done to make her feel this way. Did he promise her something, did they have sex, did he lead her on, what? Of course he denied it and watered it down as if they went out one time and she just wasn’t able to let go. Now that he’s “done” with me I now see that was a red flag and he did to her, I’m sure, exactly how he did me. You get mega attention until something VERY small happens, or regualr relationship woes, and he’s on to the next best thing on this online dating site. Its sad and scary. As I stated – I ran up on some info and saw just how busy he was behind the scenes and the things that he was saying in no way shape or fashion matched what he thought I didn’t know or would ever see what he was ACTUALLY doing. People that were just his friends, he was flirting with and things like that. Its like ok wow, for this girl not to be your type your text to her does not imply you’re not interested. Then a big blow up happened. He is the type that goes 110 at the beginning of everything it seems. Its sad I got caught up. He had another “friend” of his coming to my house for a week to get him so they could galivant around town while I was at work. By the middle of that week I let him know it was unnacceptable and disrespectful. He fought me tooth and nail saying I was insecure and that he was going to be there for his friend and it felt as tho I was making him choose between her and me. I told him this was not the case, it was just disrespectful and I’d never do that to him, and if the situation were reversed he knew good and well he wouldn’t like it. It got to the point where he was coming home AFTER me. Ok, I was being a fool. By the end of the week after an argument I basically told him that she could take him home. After that he flipped out and said he was DONE with me and pretty much has been ever since. I’ll admit I was hurt, confused, angry, felt used, the works! I did my research come to find out he’s on to the next on the website. So your article has really helped to bring me further clarity and to know what to stay away from. I felt as tho he threw it all away everything that HE said he wanted and built up and I responded he just threw it away like it was nothing. I now see that it actually wasn’t nothing. If one little thing goes wrong because he’s an online serial dater and has TONS of female friends, many of which he used to screw, he probably doesn’t feel very good about himself and has to keep women around to make himself feel a certain way. He came on super strong and now he’s coming on strong to the next unsuspecting victim. Damn! Thanks for the insight I will steer clear from these types in the future!!

  4. Aliceinblunderland says:

    Just went through this one too…all similar experiences…Be aware of the “no photos” possibly being a reason, rushes a commitment from you about loyalty and then jokes “I can do whatever I want though” Has a lot (I mean a lot) of women who are just “friends” on fb. If you look and see they all live in different cities and have jobs that a guy in his profession wouldn’t normally have contact with, that is because you probably live in a different city also..and you are the next one. He tells you they are all just dying to meet you too. Puts the pressure that he is loyal to his friends so don’t even question this stuff. Besides he only cares about you. He has an impressive profession and he uses it to attract women. He makes promises that sound great but, they never quite follow through. He gets a lot of texts and every past girlfriend was crazy, possesive or jealous. He has trouble with money yet, he makes good money. He starts displaying more personal problems, medication, lack of sleep amd needs “space” from you even though you are miles away. In my case he was constantly attracting and helping friends where everything was so imperative and dramatic…. .he was their hero….he thrived on it….Yeesh I could write a book….look out ladies, I am sure he is not the only one.

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