Mindfulness can be defined as the deliberate act of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It’s a concept that has sprouted from the self-help movement and has been used to combat all manner of problems from anxiety to eating disorders.
What Is Mindful Dating?
In the context of dating, mindfulness refers to approaching dating in a conscious and proactive manner. It means having a sense of what you are looking for and a sense of yourself. It refers to setting boundaries and being okay with rejection. It is also about sending out positive vibes that you hope will be reciprocated.
In contrast, many people engage in the opposite of mindful dating. You might log on to dating apps and scroll mindlessly. You complain about not being able to meet people but ignore good opportunities to do so. Or, you move through dating on autopilot without stopping to have a real conversation and listening to a person to learn more about him/her.
Tips for Mindful Dating
What can be done? There are plenty of strategies to help you become a more mindful dater. If you’re struggling with dating or feel that you’re not getting anywhere, see if you can recognize the “flip side” of each of these tips and if you need to focus more on mindfulness.
Set a Goal
What are you hoping to be the outcome of your dating experience? Being specific about what you are looking for will help you to be more mindful in your dating.
If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, you might not want to engage with some dating apps that are targeting more “casual” users. By the same token, if you do want to date casually, going on a blind date with someone who wants to get married and have kids as soon as possible is not the best idea.
Be mindful in how you find your dating prospects. Instead of looking absolutely everywhere, try to curate your prospects based on how well they align with the goals you have chosen.
Often, meeting someone through mutual friends can be the most successful method because you can find out more about the person beforehand. If the usual suspects in your dating scene are not working out, you might need to branch out and start spending time in places that reflect you.
For instance, if you going to the library, this might be a place you could meet someone with common interests. Or, if you love food, perhaps a specialty grocery store or food festival would be a place you could meet someone interesting.
In this day and age, you would be remiss not to include technology in your dating arsenal. There are several options specifically geared toward being more mindful when dating.
For instance, eHarmony uses comprehensive questions to match you with an ideal date, while the less well-known site called Sapio helps to connect you with a match by showing you answers to open-ended questions from a potential partner.
Most dating apps will also send you your best matches each day so that you don’t have to waste time hunting them down. Not having to mindlessly scroll through a dating app means more time to focus on what’s important.
It sounds simple, but when you are actually on a date, it’s important to have good vibes. If you’ve been dating unsuccessfully for a while, it can be easy to slide into negative thinking, which sends out a negative message to your date.
Instead, try to be warm, open, and happy—you should always keep an open mind and remain hopeful that the person you are on the date with has the potential to be a special person in your life. Try to find the good qualities in your date (within reason), and let your happy side shine through.
Even if you end up not being a good match, at least you will have enjoyed yourself.
Be a Good Listener
How often have you been on a date and noticed the other person wasn’t paying attention to what you were saying? Try to practice being an active listener on dates. Being mindful in this way will help both you and your date.
Your date will feel appreciated and that you are interested. This way you will also get a better sense as to whether you are a good match. Ask lots of questions, seek clarification when you aren’t sure about something, and avoid becoming distracted (by your phone and other things).
Part of mindful dating also involves setting boundaries for yourself. If you don’t have boundaries, you won’t have a framework from which to decide whether someone is right for you or not. Decide how you want to be treated and don’t accept anything less than that. Doing so will help to promote your well-being and self-esteem.
If someone repeatedly pushes through your boundaries, let them know that it’s not working out.
By the same token, have boundaries for yourself. Don’t get intimate too quickly (emotionally or physically), or you may find yourself attached to someone before you know them well enough to decide if they are a match. A first date is not a therapy session—talk to your friends about your problems, and to your first date about your hopes, dreams, passions, and plans for the future.
Similar to sending out good vibes, don’t complain when dating. Don’t engage in self-pity. Be mindful of the message you are sending on your dates. Are you showing interest in the person you are with or complaining about an ex?
Treat each date with respect and courtesy. Unless your date does something terribly wrong or offensive that you need to address, keep your complaints to yourself.
It’s easy to coast through dating without stopping to consider why things went right or wrong with each date. Take some time for reflection.
Were you being mindful of your goals? Did you adhere to your boundaries? Were you sending out good vibes and being a good listener? Did you sense a match? Was the other person respectful of you? Ask yourself a long list of questions after a date (you could even write down your answers in a journal).
Above all else, never feel guilty about having to say goodbye to someone. Not everyone will be a match for you, and that’s okay.
Be Mindful Together
When you finally meet someone you like, practice being mindful together. Go on hikes. Go to a meditation retreat together. Go on a mindful vacation where you have time and space to really be aware of your surroundings. If you carry mindfulness from your dating life to your relationship, the odds of being satisfied with each other will be higher.
It happens. There will be dates where you don’t hear anything back or the person doesn’t want to go out again. Try to be understanding about rejection and not take it personally.
Be mindful of the fact that not everyone will be a match, and that your date has a right to feeling that way about you. While rejection never feels good, if you can avoid taking it personally, you can view it as a stepping stone to someone who is actually a good match for you.
A Word From Verywell
Mindful dating means the chance to learn and grow as you search for potential mates. Try to embrace the journey of dating rather than fighting against it. Keep a solid sense of self through the ups and downs of dating by using your mindfulness. Approaching dating in this way will help to keep you level-headed and open to the right person when he or she comes along.