The Recovering Serial Monogamist


“What are you doing Bomani? I’m a groupie!”

marriage-proposalShe was West African chocolate. She was raw and un-cut. Sweet as watermelon with sugar on top, but would bite you back when you tasted her.  It’s why I fell in love with her.  I fell way too far, too quickly in love with her.  She saw it, and slammed on the brakes for me.  Thanks.

You see, I am a recovering serial monogamist. Look it up in the dictionary, it’s a real thing:

Serial – adj affecting or producing a series of similar actions.  The police think a serial killer is responsible for five homicides in this city last month.

Monogamy – n 1. Marriage with only one person at a time. Compare bigamy polygamy 2. zoology. The practice of having only one mate. 3. the practice of marrying only once during life.

Just when I thought I was clever, and had come up with my own parlance for this condition, I found the definition for “serial monogamy” on my dictionary app.  Check it:

Serial monogamy – n 1. A form of monogamy characterized by several successive, short-term marriages over the course of a lifetime

I first I thought this definition popping up on my smartphone was just a side of effect of all the Google data mining and NSA spying on my phone records.  I type and say that phrase all the time and maybe they put a definition in because I said it.  But of course it’s not.  There are plenty of real life examples of men and women who love the idea of being in love, and in the course of a life time they fall eternally in love with one special person…over and over again.

I am not bragging, or crying, just trying to be honest with how I see sex and relationships.  This is not a virtue.  In many ways it’s worse then being “that guy” trying to get some tail.  “That guy”, doesn’t have any intentions of loving a woman.  If he’s honest he will tell her, if he’s a liar he can be smelled out with a little effort. When I am wooing a woman who is completely wrong for me, it feels real to her, because it is real to me.  Trust me, I’m aware of the “no-game-game”.  You know, the “no-game-game” where men (or women) use the appearance of naivety and emotional openness to appeal to potential suitors. This isn’t that either. This is an inability to have an intimate interaction with a woman without naming our future children, even if it’s only been one date.   It isn’t sweet and endearing.  It actually becomes the exact opposite.  It’s the Chinese water torture of love, where unrequited feelings drip on and on with no end in sight.  Just the promise of a future where you are relentlessly pelted with drops of what you think you need to survive, but not enough of a quantity to sustain you.

Miss Watermelon-with-Sugar-On-Top saw me struggling with where to take her, what to say.  I was stalking her emotionally, like a good serial monogamist.  I wanted to show the right amount of emotional investment.  You know, enough emotion to swap body fluids, but not enough to exchange apartment keys.  My marriage had just ended, this time for real, and I was determined to not fall in love like I always do.  I had just gone through my “youngest, oldest, tallest, shortest, biggest, smallest, whitest, blackest” phase (a dating phase where I broke all my unwritten dating rules, that’s a whole nova blog to come later).  I liked this woman, and by this time knew myself well enough to know I was going to leave a piece of myself with her. I was just hoping I wouldn’t leave all of me with her. Then again, somewhere deep inside, the serial monogamist in me saw exchanging apartment keys as inevitable. The truth is, I had an emotional investment in her.  I’ve only had truly unattached, emotionless sex twice.  Both times in college and both times because she was the aggressor.  If it was up to me it was never going to go down.

My girlfriend sophomore year asked me what I thought was an outlandish question for a 19 year old.  This was after months of self-imposed celibacy, and long before we officially “went together” in any world outside of my imagination.  With my manhood in her left hand while looking up at me she asked, “Why did this take so long. Don’t you think i’m sexy?” She was a Latoya Luckett look-a-like who taught me how to slow-wine in the reggae room at the Ritz. We were a mismatch. I was (and still am) a stone cold bamma, completely comfortable with my bamma-ness (bamma-mosity?).  More than one smart-ass store clerked had asked us “are you two together?” I was dumbfounded by her question. It took a second to respond, partly because there was an inadequate amount of blood in my brain, but mostly because I was confused. “I didn’t want you to think that sex was all I wanted from you”, is what I was finally fixed my lips to say.  That was the truth. I was a gentleman, even more then than I am now. But it was only part truth. I was intimidated. I was entering a new phase, where really pretty women were not only responding to me, but pursuing me, and deciphering which one was the one I would love wholly, truly and exclusively was my duty.  It was my solemn duty as a “good guy”. I didn’t know how to react. I was deathly afraid of rejection, even more afraid of disappointing.  And I just wanted to be the “good guy”.

I was obsessed with being the “good guy”. You remember the “good guy”, from every fairy tale and hero comic you’ve read.  The “good guy” recognizes his one true love, and goes to the end of the earth for her.  As much as psychologist and sociologist have broken down the affects of fairy tales on a young girls perspective on love and relationships, the same can be said for men. No, having overwhelming emotional attachment to a potential relationship isn’t an expression of a man’s “feminine side”.  We don’t have feminine sides, we just love and long for affection too.  There is no reason that isn’t a masculine urge; we’d probably live longer if we could recognize it in ourselves.

I’ve dreamed obsessively of being a one-woman man. Maybe internalized those Disney-esque movies that teach little girls to fawn over their prince. Somewhere out there is a woman, waiting for a man to love her right so she can reach her full potential.  Remember, no matter how indestructible and (by virtue of that strength) absolutely desirable Superman is, he only dates Lois Lane.  Period.

Being a superhero meant not being “that guy”.   Being a late bloomer and an avid listener put me in the friend-zone to more than one girl in high school and college.  One theme was trumpeted over and over again by some of the luckless ladies I lent my ear to.  Their guy couldn’t just be a “real man” and commit.  Cold feet weren’t a warning sign of a relationship destined to go wrong, they were just weakness.  This inability to love completely and exclusively was a lack of strength that can be cured through perseverance.

What my mom said to me, when my engagement at 22 lasted much longer than it probably should have, was prophetic.   She sensed my fear going into it, and told me “You don’t have to marry her, you’ll still be a ‘good guy’”.  That was my get out of jail free card.  I should have taken it and ran, but it also conflicted with the conviction I felt I must have for a woman, or I wasn’t a truly, genuine, “good guy”.  Maybe her advice conflicted too much with earlier advice she had given me.  She lovingly told me that I should have a timetable by which I planned to be married by. She also told me that I didn’t want to have many sex partners, because, “What if you can’t satisfy them? That would be embarrassing.” Just what a 15 year old needs to hear from his mom. Don’t have sex. You might suck at it, and not in a good way.

My sex and love conversations with the parents were few and far between. Fed a steady myth of “back in the day” you overheard from elders and family in the church, as if my generation had invented throw-away love, and out of wedlock babies.  While the bible people taught marriage morality, it actually contains no real love stories.  All the happily-ever-afters contained in its pages were based off of some kind of familial sense of responsibility and duty.  While that’s admirable, in a Superman kind of way, it’s not romantic love.  We don’t appreciate that the ability to search for and demand love in our long-term relationships is a First World luxury.  The glory days of marriage when people stayed together till they actually died, weren’t the same as now where people are expected to be friends, to have similar interest, to evolve and grow.  Even the more recent iteration of me can’t resist the urge to “work it out” as if every relationship is a series of painful reps that can be conquered with the right trainer yelling motivational platitudes in my ear.  To fail at this is being a traitor to love, a sell out of responsibility.  There must be something wrong if I can’t make this work.

I was faithful to one fling at a time.  “This awkward mismatch is just act one in some epic love story”, is what I would tell my self.  But I ended up being the bad guy. The guy who doesn’t recognize the incompatibilities with women, and stuck around, days, weeks, months and even years to long.  “Love conquering all” was a noble cause I was ready to fight for, even when it meant fighting myself.

Miss Watermelon with Sugar on top was saccharine sweet to me.  She didn’t put me on a psychologists couch, she just invited me to catch my breath. In hindsight, she was a recovering serial monogamist as well, that’s why she could recognize it in me.  She could be that though, because she was a woman.  What she couldn’t be, at least in the eyes of many in this patriarchal world, was a ship who just wanted her boat to rock.  Then for the hurricane to just dissipate into the wind like it’s always prone to do.

My mom did give me one piece of undeniably true and invaluable sex advice, “Never make love to someone you can’t see yourself with”. Really simply, no matter what you thought you were to a person, the 8 seconds of orgasm you enjoyed could turn into forever, for a myriad of reasons. It’s a power and potential that shouldn’t be taken lightly, even though it constantly is.  Even by me, the recovering serial monogamist.

15 thoughts on “The Recovering Serial Monogamist

  1. A good read. I smiled the whole way through, for several reasons. And as much as my history didnt seem it, I felt the way you feel several times.

  2. “No, having overwhelming emotional attachment to a potential relationship isn’t an expression of a man’s “feminine side”. We don’t have feminine sides, we just love and long for affection too. There is no reason that isn’t a masculine urge; we’d probably live longer if we could recognize it in ourselves.” __Right on point! More need to hear this!

  3. This was a difficult read for me. I’m a recovering Serial Monogamist, myself. The crux for me is to find a safe place to balance the morale of dating exclusively while NOT relapsing into a state of serial monogamy. I have failed, miserably. …but I’m getting better at mastering this circus act. Thanks for the read.

  4. I had a convo with a friend of mine (I consider him my brother) and a few years ago, he let me stay in his home when I had nowhere to go. Anyway, dude was a straight mack. He always had shorties coming thru, I wasnt like that becuase I felt a lot the way you do then. He once talked to me about how lucky I was to have a father (his died when he was two) and I looked him dead in the eye and said “growing up in a two parent home in the black community is not the norm. You have an understanding of women and how they operate because you have seen your mom date, guys try to get at your mom, and she even talks to you about how to get girls. I grew up in a sheltered environment lacking a serious life lesson, one that is getting taught by you.” See, mom and pops in the home is not what most of my black people have, I looked for that dynamic of “we” in women who have only been used to “I”. Unfortunately, I have had to adjust to survive.

  5. “We don’t appreciate that the ability to search for and demand love in our long-term relationships is a First World luxury.” So, so true! Thanks so much for this article. Was really trying to understand the serial monogamist in my family and this post really helped. You’re a great writer, keep it up!

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