Fairytale or pilit-tale? Experts spill why men rush into marriage after long-term relationships

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2021 10:35 PM | Updated as of Jun 24 2021 01:47 PM

MANILA - PBA star Scottie Thompson's whirlwind marriage to a flight attendant has left basketball fans and netizens stunned on the heels of the pro-baller's break up with his college sweetheart.

The 28-year-old baller reportedly married Jinky Serrano earlier this month after ending his 8-year relationship with Pau Fajardo in April.

But psychologists say that the tendency of some men to jump into marriage after exiting a long-term relationship has been common.

"When you're with someone for a long time, there are a lot of rough edges... Then, you meet someone who kind of was able to deflect that pretty well. You feel that click," said psychologist AJ Sunglao.

"In a long-term relationship there is gravitas. There is a responsibility and a history that has built it... While anything new is a shiny, new thing that can look fun, that can look nice," he said.


American sexologist and best-selling author Dr. Joe Beam calls this euphoric feeling in new relationships "limerence," a term coined in 1970 that refers to "the feeling or sensation of being madly in love."

"It's an intense longing for reciprocal love from a person... It is this feeling that, 'I will only be fulfilled if you are in my life and you love me just as much as I love you,'" Beam said in an explainer.

People in limerence "don't see any flaw" in their object of limerence which is why it leads to having "fantasies about us living together, the things we'll do together, the things we'll enjoy."

If a person is in a committed relationship and ends up in limerence with another individual, limerence is "going to pull you out of that committed relationship," Beam said.

"You'll give up this person to be with that person and in intense levels of limerence, you will even vilify the person you are leaving," he said.

"You'll make him or her into a villain. You'll find whatever bad aspects of them that exist and you will magnify that... so you can justify in your mind leaving this person for this new one... so you don't feel guilty when you leave," he said.


Feelings of guilt or toxic shame is another possible reason why people jump into marriage, said Dr. Ali Gui, a relational life coach and psychologist.

"Pupuwedeng buntis ako so nandiyan 'yung shame ng family nila, nandiyan 'yung expectations ng family nila," she said told ABS-CBN News.

(It maybe because the new girl is pregnant so the shame of the family, the expectations of the family is there.)

Marriage is also a convenient way to divert the attention away from this feeling of shamefulness, Gui said.

"It (Whirlwind marriages) starts quickly and moves very, very fast. It's what you call total infatuation," she said.

"They put more attention to their feelings so out of sight out of mind sila [about other issues]," she said.


There is nothing wrong in having a whirlwind marriage as long as the couple is aware of its consequences, Gui said.

A relationship usually starts with the euphoric or early attachment stage and must survive crises before it could proceed with the deep-attachment stage, she said.

"They need to have a power struggle first so they learn to grow and make their relationship stable, and say na, 'Ito yung makakasama ko through thick and thin,'" she said.

(This is who I'll be with through thick and thin.)

"If you're now in passionate love pa lang [and decide to get married], how will you learn about each other and how committed the person is to you?" she said.

"Hindi 'yan magiging easy (It will not be easy) because you did not go through the proper stages of a relationship."


Among the consequences is the possible need to be more "performative" in public and on social media, Sunglao said.

"Anything that feels rushed is questioned. No one will question any couple who took 10 years before getting married," he said.

"If you go into it (marriage) too soon, it is easier for it to be criticized so it can become a pressure point na, 'O sige, pakita natin sa mga tao na we are happy together,'" he said.

(Okay, let's show the world that we are happy together.)

"You're now creating a narrative and you're putting such pressure in a person, you're putting them in a stencil that they might not necessarily fit into," he said.

Allowing the relationship to undergo a "stress test" before tying the knot reduces the chances that it would end in a failed marriage, Sunglao said.

"Ang laki ng gina-gamble mo (You are gambling something big). Even if you know someone for 10 years, there is still no complete assurance that it will work out," he said.

"There are certain issues that you might not see eye to eye with and those things might only come out when you stress test in the long-term," he said.

Beam suggests waiting for the limerence stage to end before making big life decisions.

"Limerence always ends... It has a time span, it has a shelf life, even though you think right now it's not going to," the American sexologist said.

"Sometimes, people wind up making decisions thinking, 'I'm gonna feel this amazing sensation for the rest of my life'... You're making a decision based on what you are feeling right now thinking you're gonna feel this for the rest of your life," he said.

"When it finally goes away, you will start looking around thinking, 'What did it cost me in terms of relationships?' And it's a pretty big price to pay, even what does it cost me in terms of my own self respect," he said.


There is no data on the number of successful rushed marriages in the Philippines, but "whirlwind relationships sometimes work," Gui said.

Among notable whirlwind romances in the Philippines are the marriages of former President Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos, and late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and Vice President Leni Robredo.

"When you are in a long-term relationship, it could have started when you are young and now you're more mature and ready to commit," she said, referring to the PBA star's case.

The number of years together does not guarantee a relationship's success, she said.

"Being together for years and years is not a guarantee for a relationship to end in happily ever after. They are just numbers," she said.

"If from the very beginning the commitment is not really there, balewala 'yun lahat (it amounts to nothing)," she said.

Sunglao agreed, saying the quality of communication within a relationship is a more telling variable if a couple would end up together.

"People change so communication, relationship building, seeing the person for what they are are important because the person you're dating 5 or 10 years ago might not be the same as they are now," he said.

"Just make sure you are falling in love with the actual person, not just the with the idea of someone."