Hands up if you usually scroll through your favorite online dating app on your phone while watching TV. Do you find yourself agreeing to a date just because someone has asked you and you’re free on Thursday night? We’re probably all a bit guilty of approaching dating in a disengaged way – and feeling unfulfilled because of it. When we don’t spend time working on what we want from dating, it’s easy to just go with the flow and forget that we can choose our own path. The secret to avoiding mediocre chat and forgettable dates is really quite simple: it’s mindful dating.
Mindful dating is all about dating with purpose and intention. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a committed relationship, someone to hang out with, or a fun day out with someone new – being present and mindful helps you get the best out of your dating experience. So, you’re probably asking yourself, “how do I find your perfect match in a crazy world?” It’s easier than you think.
Mindful Dating Tip #1: Date with Intention
To really date mindfully, you need to figure out what you’re looking for in a potential partner. Are you all about relationship life? Or would you like to find something a bit more casual? Once you’ve established that, go into more detail: think about what qualities are really important to you in a partner and what your non-negotiables are. Maybe you’re looking for someone kind, someone who‘s open to having kids, or someone who understands that your career is a big part of your life. Having a checklist doesn’t make you boring, it just means you’re focusing your attention on the people who are best suited for you. Keep these things in mind when you’re on a date – and if the other person isn’t a good match romantically, chalk it up to experience and keep on moving.
Mindful Dating Tip #2: Really listen
As silly as it sounds, it’s actually very easy to forget to really listen to the other person when you’re on a date. When your date is talking, try not to spend time planning your response in your head because of nerves, or figuring out where to take the conversation next. Instead, really focus your attention on what your date is saying, and ask them questions about the details they’ve mentioned. It shows that you’ve heard them, and also makes sure that the conversation doesn’t dry up – a great bonus.
Mindful Dating Tip #3: Stay curious
Instead of entering into every date with the mindset that it’s going to end in a relationship, or just end – try to remember that dating is meant to be fun! It’s a chance to try new things and chat to an interesting person. Even if your date doesn’t turn out to be a match for you romantically, they could become a great friend, or, if they’re a hot-shot at DIY or an expert on the local area, someone you can ask for tips. Approach dates with a curious mindset and try to learn something new each time.
Mindful Dating Tip #4: Meet people online and in real life
If you’re from an older generation, you’re probably more inclined to meet people in person rather than wade into the unknown world of dating apps. But if you’re younger, the thought of striking up conversation with a stranger in person might be downright terrifying.
In truth, the best way to meet someone is to try a combination of the two. Sign up to some online dating services, and at the same time make an effort to be sociable and meet people in real life. If talking to strangers at a bar isn’t your thing, try taking up a new activity such as an exercise class or a book club.
Online dating apps can become a crutch for people who struggle with social interactions so try not to rely on them too heavily – you need to practise feeling comfortable around people in real life. It does get easier the more you do it.
Mindful Dating Tip #5: Check in with how you’re feeling regularly
It feels like there’s lots of pressure to date now and have a ‘hot girl summer’, but don’t forget you can say no to dates if you’re just not feeling it. You don’t need to come up with an elaborate excuse, just simply tell your match that you’re having some downtime and be honest about whether they’re likely to hear from you in the future. Being in tune with your emotions will put you in a better position once you do re-enter the dating scene, too.
Mindful Dating Tip #6: Know the signs of dating burnout
After such a mammoth year and a total change in routine, it might take you some time to get back into the swing of things, where dates are concerned. There’s no harm in testing the water with a couple of dates and pulling back if you’re not up to it. If you find yourself feeling a bit burnt out and want to give dating apps a break, then do it. Your wellbeing comes first.
Mindful Dating Tip #7: Recognize that rejection is redirection.
There are always going to be some dates that don’t go brilliantly, and some chats that go nowhere, but dating mindfully means that you’ll be equipped to deal with those experiences and move on, feelings intact. Being mindful looks like knowing that rejection is something that happens to all of us, and being compassionate towards yourself in spite of that. It may hurt at the time, but it’s pointing you in the direction of better things.
If you’re thinking of dipping your toe into the world of dating, try doing it mindfully and take it date by date. Chances are you’ll find your perfect match in this crazy world. You’ve got this!