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Confessions of a "Serial Dater"

by Maddie Wray

For the last four years, I’ve been a serial dater. I don’t need a therapist to diagnose me, believe me—I’m aware.

At the ripe age of 21, I’ve been in, drumroll please, six relationships. They range from overly-intense situationships to basically moved in, but they were relationships nonetheless.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m bragging—oh poor me, I’ve dated six people! I know, you’ve probably considered putting this down already. If you really think about it, though, having dated six people just means I’ve had five heartbreaks before my prefrontal cortex has even finished developing.

And boy, did those heartbreaks hurt. I’ve spent my fair share of time relentlessly creating playlists on Spotify dedicated to each new person who shattered me. I’ve also spent my fair share of time being jaded about love, telling everyone in my life that I’d sworn off dating forever-- only to be swept into another romance after a few months of single-hood.

Some might look at me and say, “She’s so insecure, she can’t be alone.” Or, “She’s addicted to dating—maybe even sex!” And I totally get it. From the outside, I seem like a feeble little lovergirl, or more likely, a manipulative temptress, always looking for the next unsuspecting victim to trap for six months, give or take.

I spent years fervently denying the label of “serial dater.” Years hating myself for ending up in relationships that just seem to fail every time. Years asking myself, “Why do I keep doing this?”

But somehow, I’ve now realized that it doesn’t matter.

Every relationship I’ve been in has taught me something about love, about myself, about who I am in this world. It would honestly make a great rom-com. But in all seriousness, there’s something to be said for “dating around.” I would not be the person I am today if not for those six special people, and for that, I’m grateful for the heartbreaks. I’m grateful for the ways those people taught me how to love. How to live.

I’ve learned that I love being surprised with flowers. I’ve learned that sometimes I need my alone time, no matter how much I love someone. I’ve learned that I need someone ready to commit, and that pretending it’s nothing is never worth it. I’ve learned to be careful. I’ve learned to be open. I’ve learned that it’s okay to love hard, even if it means taking a risk.

There is something powerful in having loved someone. Even if it ended in tears and angry, petty TikTok drafts, there is something powerful. I saw a post one time that said something along the lines of, we are all just tapestries made up of the bits and pieces of the people we have loved. And I couldn’t agree more. Thinking back on all of my relationships, the good, the bad, and the ugly, I can firmly say that I am a better person, a new person, because of them. Every new relationship is an opportunity to grow, and to find who you are, and to learn how you love. And god, am I lucky to have loved so many times.

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