WebMD BlogsRelationships

How to Spot a Serial Dater

Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistApril 22, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

If you’re looking for a serious relationship, getting involved with a serial dater can be a serious waste of time. What’s a serial dater? Simply put, it’s someone who dates many people, but manages to steer clear of long-term commitments. Serial daters can be charming and a lot of fun to be with, but they will probably leave you feeling alone and unhappy. You can recognize serial daters early on, before you get too involved, by knowing what they tend to avoid and what they tend to prioritize.

Serial daters avoid:

  • Getting to know you: They are happy to have lots of fun with you, but they don’t ask much about your personal thoughts, feelings, experiences, or life history.
  • Sharing personal details: They tend to keep it all light. They might tell a good story or even have rare moments of some personal revelation, but they don’t really open up. They avoid making themselves vulnerable.
  • Talking about your relationship: Couples who are developing an increasingly more intimate relationship will sometimes talk about that relationship. They check in with each other, ensuring that they are feeling similarly about each other. Serial daters don’t like to talk about their relationship. This would require a level of intimacy that they would prefer not to have. So, they refuse to talk about the relationship at all, hint at feelings they never directly express, or they remain vague with comments about not being sure how they feel or not being ready yet for any commitment.

Serial daters prioritize:

  • Being a bachelor or bachelorette: They send the message that they are happy being single. Fitting with this, they have a history of only brief relationships – the longest one being at most only a year or two (and if they share information about it, you’ll probably find that the intimacy in that relationship was strained). When serial daters do express a desire for a committed relationship, they are focused on finding nothing short of the perfect partner – which, of course, does not exist.
  • Social approval and material riches: Serial daters often focus on earning money, showing off success, or dating someone who can bring them such rewards. While embracing these priorities, they try to avoid the emotional entanglements that accompany intimate relationships.
  • Fun: Serial daters want to have fun while keeping the relationship “light”, without any emotional commitment.
  • Sex: Serial daters are more interested in pursuing sexual pleasure than in nurturing an emotional intimacy that includes sex.
  • Anything but relationship: While serial daters might at first seem to give your relationship a lot of attention, this will disappear after the initial excitement phase. They will fail to follow through on promises to call or arrange to get together – other people or activities always seem to be more important.

When you feel attracted to someone, keep these warning signs in mind. Then if you see that the person is a serial dater, smile politely and move on – even if you are feeling charmed and interested. Yes, you will probably be passing on some good times. But remind yourself that what you really want is a close, loving relationship; and remain true to that goal.

Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.

WebMD Blog
© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a well-respected psychologist, who is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of the book Insecure in Love.

More from the Relationships Blog

  • woman with magnifying glass

    Stop Focusing on Your Flaws

    Do you tend to see evidence of your inadequacies and flaws wherever you look? If you do, your brain is projecting those perceptions ...

  • sad woman illustration

    Stop Making the Same Relationship Mistakes

    Have you noticed how you leave one bad relationship only to find yourself repeating the same patterns in your next one? You’re not alone ...

View all posts on Relationships

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More