The modern rhetoric around dating is bleak at best. Apps that facilitate a never-ending buffet of human choices, #couplegoals that are based on nothing but a filtered photograph on Instagram. In our current age of perma-connection, it can be difficult to slow down enough to be truly open and present with the people that we meet. But if we want to build real, healthy connections, that's exactly what we have to do. Dating doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t!) be a nightmare. Here are 5 tips for mindful dating.
1. Know what you want.
I think it’s a great exercise to make a list of what you’re looking for in a partner, but I think it’s an even better practice to make a list of deal breakers. We’ve all had that experience, right? You meet someone new, there’s an exciting connection forming, and then something comes up that alerts your intuitive defense system. Don’t ignore these signals. When you receive intuitive guidance away from someone and you do not honor that, you are communicating to yourself and to the universe that connection with the wrong person is more important than honoring yourself. A few years into a relationship, this often transforms into a serious lack of self-trust, as well as resentment of yourself and/or your partner.
2. Know your worth.
Once you have your list of deal-breakers, honor it at all costs. No exceptions. If you are a recovering addict and you meet someone who checks all of your boxes, but they drink more than is comfortable for you- this is not your person. Dating mindfully requires a solid foundation of self love, because it is going to require you to walk away from a lot of lovely people. Everyone is worthy of love, but it is up to you to know the difference between where you should and should not invest your energy.
3. Acknowledge the worth of everyone you date.
You are going on dates with thinking, feeling, precious humans. If you are treating the people you meet like experiments, distractions, or collateral damage for your growth- there’s a problem. And you will likely attract people who are going to treat you the same way. Even if someone is not in their own power, if you are in yours then you have a responsibility to guide yourself away from people that you are not aligned with. Similarly, if someone is clear with you about what they are looking for, and you are not it- honor that. If you expect others to treat you with respect and honesty, you must do them the same courtesy.
4. Connect with the real person in front of you, not the story your ego creates about them.
Love doesn’t have to make you blind, but ego-driven narratives always will. When mindfulness is absent from our dating experiences, we often end up crafting stories about the people we meet, instead of seeing them as they are presenting themselves to us. Respond to the way your dates treat your now, not how you expect or want them to treat you in the future. Another layer of this is to check your pedestals at the dating door. No one is flawless or without their unique blend of fears, insecurities, and baggage. If you are looking for a partner who will accept all of you, you must be willing to do the same.
5. Don’t take things personally.
I know it can be scary, but the only way to build real connections with other people is to show them your brightest, unhindered self. Be open about what you want, be authentic about who you are, and be honest about what feels right. Reframe rejections and “missed opportunities” as guidance. Trust that if you are operating from your highest good, you are being guided toward those that are aligned with you, and away from those that are not.
If you’re going about it mindfully, dating should be fun. It is a beautiful way to connect with people, to learn about other walks of life, and to hone in on what you really want your world to look like.