As I write this, singer Taylor Swift has just broken up with another boyfriend. By the time I actually press the “publish” button on this blog, she may have broken up with another. While the comeuppance of these breakups will likely make for some awesome hit songs, Swift’s patterns have got me thinking – about serial dating.
I’ve noticed over the past few years that young Tay-Tay has dated one guy after another. There are always lots of photos (mostly on the beach, in some exotic locale and on the rocks – foreshadowing perhaps?). It’s like the same picture but with a different guy photo shopped in. While some people live and breathe by the romantic ramblings of Swift, I just find it sad. And I think about my children all the while. Here’s why…
Swift is a serial dater. Not that one needs to (or should) settle down in their early 20’s, but she doesn’t even date casually. Dates on that level mean a weekend on the Amalfi Coast! And when she gets really close to a guy, she buys a mansion nearby – which must make for very awkward trips to the mailbox post-breakup! Swift seems to throw her whole heart into every relationship she has, building her world around the guy du jour until it ends (usually on her terms). One after another after another. So what’s so bad about this?
You have to consider the reasons behind serial dating, which can be many, but usually have to do with a fear of being alone, facing one’s own personality or reality. Or it can have to do with insecurity (even celebrities), in which they need someone on the outside telling them they are wonderful/beautiful/sexy/worthwhile. The problem is, when you look outward, away from yourself for your self-worth, you’ll always be disappointed. No one can love you like you can love you.
This is precisely why I’ve advised my children (both the girls and the boys), to get to know who they are, all on their own, without anyone else: What do they like? What are their opinions? While these change over time, at least they’ll have a sense of who they are before their “I” gets morphed into “we.” And I’ve suggested they take time between relationships to rekindle their relationship with themselves, get their balance again before diving into another relationship. I’ve given this advice to my kids even when they were in elementary school (toned down a bit to their level) because I’ve seen little kids in a constant rotation of romance-lettes, which just sets them up for a bad pattern later on. We all know adults who are never without someone in their life – it has probably been a pattern all their lives. Date yourself, Taylor Swift. Get to know you before the next “him” sweeps you off your feet, into the sunset and onto the rocks.
I agree and disagree with my wife. I believe people should date around before settling down. Getting to know a variety of people helps you know with more certainty what you do want in a life partner. But I do agree that too many people are afraid to be without a romantic partner in their lives. It’s so important to be comfortable with who you are as an individual (“individual being the operative word). That way, you go through life, looking at it through your lens, one that is based on your values, opinions and tastes instead of becoming a permeable membrane, morphing into someone else. Sure, date, have fun, get to know lots of people. But make sure, along the way, that your first love is yourself.