Mambo no. 5
Updated: Sep 22
How long does a relationship need to be for it to really count? This is something Ian Winter, 23, believes is up for debate. Known as a serial monogamist with a skill for cut-throat break-ups, he wants to explain himself and show that it's not always about being inconsiderate. He said:
“I had just started university. From out of nowhere I got a call saying my flatmate had died on holiday. He was found in the bathroom… carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t best friends, but nobody teaches you how to react to something like that."
It was the autumn of 2015 and although Ian could give his friends and family a call, it did not replace the help he needed. That's why he latched onto the first person who gave him support.
“What people don’t realise is that I was looking for comfort and not a girlfriend, but when Jessica arrived and provided both, who was I to complain? It felt like the easiest way to deal with things. I probably should have got proper help but I didn’t want to at the time.”
He and Jessica lasted the best part of six months before parting ways. He was now in his second year of university, but was he any wiser on the relationship side of things?
“My second relationship was just a fresher’s experience that overstayed its welcome. It all turned out fine though, we’re still friends now, but I definitely learned not to sleep with people just because I could.”
Following on from this short stint with someone else, he went back to Jessica for round two. In hindsight, he has strong words of warning for this type of behaviour.
"Don’t ever go back, never ever go back. Jesus Christ, it’s such a bad idea, just break up and leave.”
After finishing it properly with Jessica he moved onto Daisy, his longest relationship to date. Even though this was years after his flatmate’s death, he was still struggling with it on occasion.
“Sometimes on nights out I would get upset about it, and eventually Daisy had enough and literally told me to 'f***ing get over it’. Weirdly enough, it worked, but then we also broke up not long after. I would’ve got over it myself eventually, but she was definitely the catalyst.”
This is where there is some overlap. The day Ian decided to break up with Daisy is not actually the day that they separated, he even managed to sleep with Rachel in the middle of the two occasions, which is something he's not proud of.
“I admit I jumped into the Rachel relationship completely blind, but it was because I felt guilty about sleeping with her while I was still with Daisy. I broke up with Daisy the morning after but still."
He wanted to make the relationship with Rachel work so much that he ignored any negatives and concentrated on just the positives. Numerous times his friends and family tried to give him advice but it took some time for him to listen.
“People always say don’t let your friends influence your relationship, but when everyone's questioning it and worried about you, it’s a sign to pay attention.”
The break-up with Rachel felt like ripping off a band-aid and Ian thinks this is the fairest thing to do.
“If you let it linger you’re hurting each other and it’s emotional torture. I understand having respect for someone but I don’t think it’s out of order at this age to completely cut contact with an ex in most cases.”
Ian agrees with the famous life coach, Stephan Speaks, that serial monogamy is a crutch and not a cure to someone's problems. However, he also thinks it is just another manifestation of commitmentphobia, as he would never get involved on a deeper level or stay around long enough.
“All my relationships were fairly short, and they all had their issues. I acknowledge that I have my flaws and that I was horrible to people near the end, but for the most part there were no complaints.”
With four exes down, it was time for Helena to arrive on the scene. He knew this time it would be different because he was different, and Helena was unlike anything he had gone for before. He no longer needed someone to look after him and was searching for actual compatibility.
“I wasn’t looking for comfort when I met Helena, I was looking for someone that I liked. In the nicest way possible, she’s not the most affectionate, she likes her own space and doesn’t smother me."
In his past relationships, Ian felt like a performer, as he would spend far too much time with his girlfriend, always doing what she wanted, which made all his other relationships suffer. This resulted in total burnout followed by a swift break-up.
On the contrary, he has never felt like a performer with Helena.
“The relationship should get easier as time passes and this has definitely happened with Helena. We can sit in a room happily without doing all this extravagant stuff. That’s why it’s so different, we love to see each other but it doesn’t need to be constant for us to feel secure."
As happy as he is right now, he’s not shouting from the rooftops about their wedding plans.
“I’m just taking each day as it comes. I'm in no rush. I’m at my best when I have a lot on and I think that’s the same in my relationships, when not much is happening they don’t seem to really work.”
It took Ian a few years to realise why he jumped from relationship to relationship, but once he figured it out and dealt with the underlying issues he managed to move on. Only time will tell if he has changed his ways for good, but from the way he speaks about Helena, it looks promising.