A serial monogamist is a person who has many sexual partners in his or her lifetime, but only one at a time. He or she will seemingly form what looks like a lasting commitment to one person, but the commitment is usually only superficial. Some such people are incapable of commitment for a long period of time. The partnership can either be through marriage or a more casual relationship.
Usually, the serial monogamist is aware of the pattern that he or she follows, and each relationship may be entered into with a how long will this one last? frame of mind. This does not mean that he or she does not try to commit, but it seems that commitment is not something the person feels comfortable with. In comparison, true monogamy is a state in which one person stays with another for his or her entire life.
In the Western world, true monogamy is perhaps becoming less and less common, as more marriages than ever split up within three years. Since a serial monogamist might stay with a partner for that length of time or even longer, he or she might be annoyed by the label. His or her relationship might, after all, last longer than some marriages.
Fear of commitment and perfectionism play a large part in the thinking of this type of person. Childhood influences typically also a play a large part, and bad role models may give them an inherent fear of commitment. They are unable to cope with the pressure of the family unit for long periods of time and eventually seek their independence once again. If the partnership begins to show problems similar to those witnessed in childhood, then it will no longer mirror the ideal the serial monogamist has in his or her head.
Many people think that they can be the one to change the serial monogamist's way of thinking, but this is sometimes a futile effort. The relationship pattern is often so established that the person can even predict the month or year that the break up will occur. It's rare that someone seeks to end a relationship willingly if there are no problems, but for some serial monogamists, the fear of commitment is beyond their control.
Some people hold that this type of behavior is a psychological problem. They believe that the only way to deal with such a state of mind is with psychological help. Other people think that the term is a cop-out that can be used as a way for people to give weight to their incapability of sustaining a relationship. Whether it is a psychological problem or not, it is usually not a state of mind most people are happy to live with forever.