Mindfulness is an approach to life that is gaining in popularity. In the context of dating, mindful practices involve prioritizing the present moment, making conscious decisions that align with your values, and cultivating self-love and empathy towards others. While meditation can aid in fostering mindfulness, it is not a requirement, and even a moment of intentional reflection can be transformative.
Simply put, being mindful means being present and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
What Is Mindful Dating?
Dating is a very vulnerable time. It’s typical to experience nervousness, fear, and insecurity while dating, which can lead to the desire to protect oneself from rejection by adopting a distant or indifferent attitude. However, this protective approach minimizes the possibility of achieving true intimacy and connection.
Mindfulness is the best remedy in this situation. Mindful dating requires being fully present, open, and authentic, even during moments of anxiety, insecurity, or excitement.
How Does Mindful Dating Differ from Regular Dating?
Mindful dating is about knowing what you want and understanding yourself, establishing healthy boundaries, and being willing to accept challenging emotions and rejection when they arise. It is also about practicing honesty and empathy when communicating your thoughts, feelings, and needs.
Unfortunately, today many people tend to engage in mindless behaviors while dating. They may aimlessly scroll through dating apps or overlook promising opportunities to meet potential partners. Some may keep dating without engaging in meaningful conversations or actively listening to their partners.
Chemistry Vs. Mindful Dating
When you first encounter the idea of mindful dating it might seem that there is no place for chemistry, passion, and “butterflies” when there is so much thinking. Yet, it’s not true.
Having chemistry with someone is a unique and meaningful experience, as it cannot be shared with just anyone. But having chemistry with someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re meant to be together. Pure chemistry can’t guarantee compatibility between two individuals. While it’s important to feel that spark in a relationship, it’s not the only thing that matters. It is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to finding a great partner.
Why Is Relying on Chemistry Alone a Bad Idea?
Chemistry can get too strong
When you feel intense chemistry with someone, it can be all-consuming and hard to focus on anything else. You might find yourself getting caught up in the excitement of what could be, and it can be challenging to take a step back and evaluate if the person is actually a good match for you. This can lead to difficulty in pacing yourself and making rational judgments about compatibility. As a result, it’s important to stay grounded and not let your emotions run away with you, especially if you’re hoping for a long-term relationship.
Chemistry often makes people rationalize red flags
Too much affection in the early stages of the relationship can easily make you close your eyes on bad signs. You can start to invent explanations for the inappropriate behavior of your partner. Or you may start to think that with time you will get used to each other and become more compatible than now.
You don’t know if your values match or not
When we like someone, we tend to think that this person is very similar to us. Yet, unless you ask directly you can have only your own fantasies about the person’s values. And if they are different, changing them is very hard and close to impossible. So, it is way better to learn about these things in advance.
Chemistry can be mistaken for anxiety
If this is not the first time you feel a strong chemistry with a person and then this person appears to be far from a good match, most likely you confuse chemistry with anxiety. “Butterflies” and excitement can be signs of inner fear that we misinterpret as love.
In all these cases, mindful dating is the best thing to avoid dating someone who is not the right partner for you.
What Problems of Online Dating Does Mindfulness Solve?
Though dating apps have transformed the way we meet and connect with potential partners, they also brought challenges to dating life. And practicing mindfulness can help navigate these obstacles for a more fulfilling romantic journey.
The swipe-centric nature of dating apps often encourages us to make snap judgments based on appearances and brief bios. This can lead to a superficial approach to dating, prioritizing looks and surface-level traits over getting to know someone on a deeper level. By practicing mindfulness, we can remind ourselves to look beyond the surface and take the time to genuinely connect with others, appreciating their unique qualities and personalities.
Too many options
Dating apps offer an abundance of potential matches, which can lead to decision paralysis and a constant search for something better. Mindfulness teaches us to focus on the present moment and appreciate the match in front of us, rather than constantly seeking something better.
Commodification of relationships
The consumer mentality is inadvertently promoted by dating apps. When we view potential partners as products to be evaluated and compared, we risk objectifying them and losing sight of the meaningful connections we seek. Mindful dating emphasizes treating others with genuine interest and fostering authentic connections.
Ghosting, or a sudden stopping of communication without explanation, can cause significant emotional distress. Unfortunately, the anonymity and detachment of dating apps make this behavior more common. By practicing mindfulness and focusing on open communication and mutual understanding, we can foster healthier and more respectful interactions.
The process of swiping and awaiting matches can breed anxiety, and the lack of matches or responses can trigger feelings of rejection and diminished self-esteem.
Fewer face-to-face interactions
Relying solely on digital communication can limit opportunities for face-to-face interaction, hindering the development of essential social and relationship-building skills. Actively seeking opportunities for in-person interaction allows us to develop a deeper understanding of potential partners and foster more meaningful connections.
Losing Focus on the Here and Now
Constantly checking dating apps and engaging in digital conversations can create a sense of detachment from the present moment.
By consciously practicing mindfulness in dating, we can navigate these obstacles and foster more meaningful connections. So, how to date mindfully?
What Do You Need to Know to Start Dating Mindfully?
Get to know your relationship needs, desires, values, strengths, weaknesses, and patterns in relationships. Introspection is necessary to form the foundation for a healthy and fulfilling relationship. If you understand yourself well, you will have adequate expectations from your partner and relationships. Here’s how you can apply this concept in dating:
Understand your values
Values serve as the compass that directs our behavior and choices. They include a wide range of principles, such as honesty, loyalty, kindness, and independence. When it comes to dating, it becomes crucial to seek a partner whose values are compatible with ours. You can check this guide to understand your values better.
Take note of your patterns
Have you noticed a recurring trend of being attracted to similar types of individuals, resulting in relationships that follow a predictable path? By acknowledging these patterns, you can equip yourself with valuable insights to make wiser and more nourishing decisions in your dating journey. Studying your attachment type can give you a lot of insights in this area.
Recognize your good and bad points
It’s essential to not only acknowledge your positive attributes and areas that need improvement but also comprehend how they influence your relationships. For instance, possessing a strong sense of independence (strength) could pose challenges in accepting assistance from others (area for growth). To understand these good and bad points, you need to comprehend your core values and patterns.
Know your and your partner’s MBTI type
MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) type compatibility implies that individuals who share similar preferences in the four dichotomies (Extraversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving) are more likely to establish a natural understanding and connection. Such individuals tend to have aligned communication styles, values, and decision-making approaches, fostering a sense of harmonious rapport and mutual comprehension. At the same time, people with some other types combinations can also get along well. Read more about MBTI compatibility in our guide.
Check your Enneagram type
The Enneagram is a personality system that can provide valuable insights into how individuals perceive and navigate the world, including their motivations, fears, and patterns of behavior. When both partners in a relationship understand their Enneagram types, it can contribute to relationship and dating success in several ways.
Firstly, it allows for a deeper understanding of one’s own personality patterns, including strengths and weaknesses. This self-awareness can promote personal growth and more effective communication. Secondly, recognizing potential areas of conflict or misunderstanding based on Enneagram types can help minimize quarrels and enhance harmony in the relationship.
By being aware of each other’s tendencies, partners can approach disagreements with empathy and find constructive resolutions. Overall, understanding Enneagram types can foster greater self-awareness, reduce conflicts, and contribute to a more successful and fulfilling relationship.
Learn to act mindfully
Creating a meaningful relationship requires more than just going on dates and chatting. It’s about being open and honest about what you want, your values, and your relationship goals. It is about letting go of any preconceived notions or judgments and allowing yourself to be authentic and true to who you are. Below, we suggest some effective strategies for mindful dating.
Pay more attention to how you feel while dating
We tend to believe our first impression. Say, you indeed liked the description of your match in the app, the photos are nice, and this person shows up on the date. Though all these things are important, don’t let the first impression trick you. Be attentive to how you feel near this person. And please don’t convince yourself that someone is better than they act in reality just based on what they wrote. Think about how you feel when this person is near. What exactly can provoke these feelings?
Be specific about your dating goals
Most people who fail in dating don’t have a clear vision of what they are looking for in a relationship. They hope to find an ideal partner who will make them happy. However, finding a partner for a long-term relationship takes a clear understanding of what you expect from your relationship and what kind of people suit this frame. Take time to better understand yourself and then you will be more specific in saying yes to particular dates. Your goals will also influence your app choice. Say, if you are looking for a meaningful long-term relationship, then it is better to choose an app more focused on compatibility. And vice versa, looking for casual dating, you probably won’t date a person looking for marriage.
Don’t be judgemental when it comes to your thoughts and feelings
Being too judgemental to yourself, in the end, makes you very judgemental to others. Instead, try being an observer and accept your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Don’t scold yourself for the traits you don’t like. Let everything appear and go. Using breathing techniques can be a nice method for that. Learning to accept yourself is crucial to becoming kinder, more patient, and more compassionate.
Get enough experience
Dating many people is like taking a crash course in human psychology. You will see different traits, values, personality types, and habits. And the more people you get to know, the better you will start to understand what you like in partners, what you can tolerate, and what is definitely unacceptable. Ask your friends to connect you to some people, go to events, or find people online.
Make your dates meaningful
While first dates are good for general questions, learning about hobbies, interests, and lifestyle, it makes sense to use later dates for more significant conversations. Ask your partner about values, upbringing, and relationships with relatives. A more sincere and deeper connection from the beginning will make all your later dates way better. However, be careful and don’t share intimate data that your partner didn’t ask for. In particular, don’t talk too much about your ex in a negative sense. Be honest and you will have more chances to find someone who is really compatible with you.
Stay in the present moment
Functioning on autopilot is very harmful to relationships. If you notice that you start to think and reply automatically while staying deep in your thoughts. Instead of focusing on stressful thoughts, give some attention to your partner through active listening. Focus on what is happening now – this moment will never come back.
Learn to be a good listener
Have you ever caught your partner on a date not listening to you? It’s an awful feeling, isn’t it? Train yourself to be a good listener, ask questions, and listen attentively to answers, clarify the things you didn’t get the first time. With some practice, you will notice that being a good listener makes you way more attractive to people and, besides, it gives you so much information about your potential partner.
Sometimes we get offended not because people want to offend us, but because we don’t show our boundaries from the very beginning. You need to understand what exactly you consider appropriate in a relationship with you, and then based on this you will decide if some people suit you or not. Mindfulness is also about setting boundaries and teaching people how to treat you well before they repeatedly cross the line and hurt you.
Be careful with your emotional state
When you go on the first date, and any date actually, it’s important to check your emotional state. If you are exhausted after work or numerous unsuccessful dates, you will tend to think negatively and maybe be even overcritical. As a mindful person, you can notice your negative mood and do some exercises to relax, feel happier, or even postpone the date if you can’t handle these emotions fast.
Don’t take everything personally
Sometimes people don’t want to go out with you one more time. Don’t take it too close to heart. It is always better to understand that the person doesn’t suit you earlier than later. For sure, rejection is never a nice experience, still, it doesn’t mean that you are not good enough or don’t deserve something. Rejection is only about a mismatch in your interests, goals, and values. Likewise, you shouldn’t punish yourself if you have to reject someone yourself. This way, you give a chance to both of you to find the right partner.
Spend some time on reflection after your date
Mindful dating is also about learning to ask and answer reflection questions. After each date, don’t focus entirely on your emotions and chemistry. Instead, think about your values, goals, and feelings during the date. Did you manage to communicate what was important for you and what was the reaction? Think about whether you were attentive enough and listened carefully. Did you notice a sense of connection between you?
Pay attention to actions
Some people can be very nice while talking, but act very differently in reality. While listening is important, also stay attentive to what the person does. How exactly does he or she behave with other people and personnel? Remember that any cruel, angry, disrespectful actions to other people will soon be directed at you as well. Pay attention to all changes, be they good or bad. Some people will change for the better, becoming more open when they develop trust in you. But if you notice that a person is getting more and more complaining and aggressive, those are red flags. Remember that, when people show their true selves, it is wise to believe them.
Support a positive mood
We all like positive people more than negative and complaining. Before you show up on a date, check what impression you make. Relax and stay yourself. If you feel a bit shy, just remember that any new acquaintance is your chance to practice self-confidence and an upbeat mood. A smile and a sincere compliment will be a good start for any conversation.
Learn to be a good communicator
Having great relationships in your personal life depends a lot on how well you communicate. If you’re not good at it, people might not want to hang out with you and it can be hard to really connect with anyone. So if you’re not sure how you’re doing, ask a friend or family member you trust to tell you honestly.
We can give you some good advice that will help you in any way. First, listen no less than you talk and ask questions. Communication that implies more or less equal exchange of ideas is usually more interesting. Second, you can check some good questions and topics to guide the conversation if you get stuck. Third, keep your phone aside, because your undivided attention will already make you a nice communicator. And finally, make eye contact. Yes, you might feel awkward at first, but accept this small challenge and teach yourself to stay open with an unknown person.
Take your time
Getting to know each other should be a safe and slow process. Going too fast to physical intimacy can make you confuse passion with love and physical attraction with real compatibility. Going slowly, you will understand your partner better.
So, What to Do First?
Learn to be authentic. In the end, you can find a truly compatible partner only if you know yourself and accept yourself the way you are. Don’t play roles. Show yourself from the very beginning. This way, you will attract people who like the real you, not the artificial image that you created.
Start dating mindfully, and you will notice very soon that the matches you get are way more compatible with you.