5 Signs You’re A Binge-Dater?
By Jessica Levith, M.A.
To binge is to indulge excessively in an activity. This could be any activity like eating until you’re sick, drinking until you pass out, or gambling away your home. In many cases, binging is an unhealthy, potentially dangerous behavior used to mask underlying anxious or depressive feelings. It can also be the hallmark of an addiction. So what is binge-dating? Binge-dating is pressing the fast forward button on a relationship, speeding up the process of
getting to know someone in an intimate way. Often, this
Binge-dating is surprisingly common and without proper intervention, it can lead to repeatedly setting partnerships up for failure. A desire for a partner or wanting to avoid uncomfortable feelings isn’t in and of itself pathological. These are often normal human impulses. Binge-daters, however, have gone most of their lives being partnered. They dread the notion of being alone, and go to great lengths to keep that from happening.
Below I’ve compiled a list of common binge-dating signs. This list is by no means exhaustive or intended to diagnose. Each person’s pattern for dating is based on one’s own unique life history. This is simply a guide meant to help you explore your dating experience. If this article resonates with you, you are not alone. Binge-dating has exploded in recent decades becoming a normalized way to partner up. It can be quite painful and incredibly hard to stop. If you identify with these signs, and desire further information or help, I recommend that you seek out a qualified Sex and Love Addiction therapist or look into the resources I’ve provided below.
5 Signs of Binge-Dating
1. Love At First Sight. Over and Over and Over...
I don’t refute the possibility of love at first sight. Anything is possible. However, binge-daters repeatedly find themselves in love at first sight, and I’d recommend for them to take a closer look at how they define love. Yes, there are many attractive people out there, but is a constant, instant attraction to others really about the other? For binge- daters, falling in love masks an overwhelming anxiety based in a need to be partnered. This anxiety may be further rooted in a fear of being forever single or lonely.
Try reality-testing your love. Make a list of qualities that you truly desire in a long- term relationship. Then have that list handy for the next time you find that next prospective partner. Does he or she match up to your wants?
2. Too Much Too Soon.
After a first date, binge-daters attempt immediate fusion with their new interest. There’s no steadfast rule on how much is too much communication in the beginning, but generally speaking, more than 2 texts or phone calls that next week may be pushing to enmesh. Enmeshing is emotionally entangling with a partner, losing sight of healthy emotional and physical boundaries. Constant communication may certainly lead to quick physical intimacy, but one can’t rush the time it takes to authentically get to know someone. Skipping over getting to know someone creates a false sense of intimacy, and binge-daters often find themselves in full-fledged relationships before they realize they have no idea who they’re partnered with.
A simple yet effective tool here is to go with one’s gut. If a binge-dater has a history of over-communicating and their gut is telling them to slow down, the gut is probably right on. They may want to check in with a close friend to make sure they’re not repeating old behaviors.
3. Friends Evaporate
Within a couple of weeks of meeting a new interest, binge-daters stop checking in with close friends and have little time for anyone or anything but that interest. Letting friends fall away is letting go of an important support network. Friends help us to see new love interests from an objective perspective, and
have our well-being in mind. Dropping away from them shrinks one’s life, identity, and autonomy. Decreasing this identity and autonomy increases the chance of dependence on a new partner for both that sense of self, and the emotional support those friends provided. This is when binge-daters may begin feeling needy.
Spending time with a new partner can feel really nice. But if you find that you’re slipping away from friends because of this relationship you might want to commit to calling an old friend once a day. It will help keep you grounded in your identity.
4. Separation Anxiety and Reconnection Relief
For binge-daters, separating from a new partner may bring up intense anxiety. Even from date number one the desire to extend time with a partner, not wanting to end the emotional high, may create panic. They may feel afraid that they’ve not locked in their partner’s interest. The longer they’re separated from the partner, the more heightened the anxiety.
On the flipside of this, reuniting with the new partner, whether one day or one week later, brings with it a huge sigh of relief. Now reunited, they once again have their partner’s full attention and can finish closing the deal on securing affection.
This intense anxiety and subsequent relief is one of the strongest indicators of binge-dating and can be extremely distressful. For this I would suggest implementing breathing exercises to regain physiological control, and then calling someone you trust to talk it through.
5. Short-Term Love or Cooking On All Burners
Short-lived but high intensity relationships are common with binge-daters. However, that level of infatuation can only sustain itself for so long. At some point, sooner more often than later, they or their partner (or both) begin to feel crowded by the dwindling of physical and emotional space. After this, one of them begins to pull away from the relationship while the other begins pushing to make the relationship work. This push-pull dynamic continues until someone eventually ends it.
With frequent short-term relationships comes the need to have “potentials” waiting in the wings. Cooking on all burners is how I like to describe it. Consciously or unconsciously, binge-daters are setting up other options, even while still in a relationship, to be called up for duty after a breakup. Potentials may be good friends suddenly found attractive, or someone that they’ve had feelings for in the past. These “unexpected” relational developments are common distractions used to avoid the sting of a recent breakup. Soon however, these potentials begin to feel as futile as the relationship that was just buried.
Sometimes relationships provide you with valuable lessons. Allow a chunk of time in between relationships, feeling the burn of the lesson, so as not to repeat it.
Is There Help For Binge-Dating?
Yes. As previously stated, these are only Cive signs of binge-dating. There are many others. If you feel that you’re relating to them, you are not alone. For some binge-dating feels comfortable, having no negative effects on any aspect of life. For others, binge-dating feels like a coin dropped into a funnel, circling round and down as the pattern repeats.
For those who struggle with this issue, the following are resources are a great place to start:
Jessica Levith’s Sex and Love Addiction Blog east-baytherapy.com
A Tumbler Page for Sex and Love Addiction http://sexandloveaddiction.tumblr.com The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health http://www.sash.net
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous http://www.slaafws.org/
“Out of the Shadows” by Patrick Carnes
“Love Addict: Sex, Romance, and Other Dangerous Drugs” by Ethlie Vare “Facing Love Addiction” by Pia Melody
Jessica Levith currently sees adults and young adults struggling with Sex and Love Addiction in her private practice in Oakland, CA. For more information or to set up an appointment, you can contact her at: 510.883.3074 or east-baytherapy.com.
Registered IMFT# 70860
Supervised by Karen Pernet LCSW# 23635
© 2013 by Jessica Levith, MA. All rights reserved.