Mindfulness is a way of approaching and experiencing the world, being present and aware, making decisions and life choices, and being in a relationship with yourself and others. You don’t have to meditate to be mindful (although, you certainly can), and you can access a mindful mentality in a quick second.
Jon Zabat-Zinn, Mindfulness Expert and Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Basically, being mindful is about being present and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Research finds numerous physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness, and being mindful can do wonders for your love life.
As dating tends to bring up nerves and insecurities, it’s common to seek protection from rejection by not actually being open and present and, instead, act distant or indifferent. Being in protective mode hinders availability for true intimacy and connection, which is where mindfulness comes in. Mindful dating involves being completely present, available, and authentic throughout the highs and lows of dating, even when anxious, insecure, or excited.
In this article, I’ll take you through five ways to apply a mindful approach to your dating life as well as four mindful dating websites you can use to stick with this new mentality.
5 Ways to Adopt a Mindful Dating Approach
A mindful approach to dating extends deeper than going through the motions by responding to online dating messages and saying yes to dates. It’s about openness and understanding that simply showing up for a date and participating in small talk is not enough. It’s about getting clear on what you’re looking for and taking deliberate action that’s in line with your values and goals. It’s about going on dates with appropriate matches and not playing games. It’s about letting go of judgment and gaining comfort in being yourself.
1. Deepen Your Understanding of Dating
You should also deepen your understanding of how you feel in the presence of potential matches. Understand that finding a partner is not about checking off boxes, finding someone who looks good on paper, or just showing up to a date. It is about connecting in the present moment through being vulnerable, taking the time to get to know someone, and exploring how you feel around them (without judgment, of course).
Once you understand yourself and what you want out of dating, the whole process becomes easier. You just need to have that ah-ha moment.
Tune in to how you feel around someone new instead of convincing yourself to like or not like someone based on how they appear on paper or what other people in your life will think. Ask yourself “How do I feel around this person? How do I feel after spending time with this person? Do I like who I am around this person? What does this person bring out in me? What feelings were provoked?” Use the answers to the above questions as emotional clues to determine how you feel and let go of any shoulds or supposed-tos.
2. Get Clear On Your Dating Desires and Goals
Start by considering the type of partner you want to attract and reflecting on what is important to you in a relationship. Spend time fine-tuning who you’re looking for, examining the type of relationship you hope to gain, and digging deep into your values.
Think of dating as you would anything else — you need to go into it prepared if you want to have success.
Then be deliberate about who you ask out or say yes to dates with. Remember being mindful is the opposite of dating without a purpose, playing games with potential partners, and keeping score.
3. Take On a Mindful, Non-Judgmental Approach to Your Thoughts and Feelings
Be aware of your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, projections, assumptions, and history as these all affect how you relate to others. Be an observer to your thoughts and feelings and take an objective approach. Don’t judge yourself for how you feel. Instead, let your emotions come and go without attachment.
Don’t let negative thoughts hinder you — practice breathing exercises to let those feelings flow right out of your mind. Photo source: Fox2Detroit.com.
Use your breath as an anchor and let go of urges for rumination and obsessive thinking. Understand your thoughts are simply thoughts (and are not necessarily accurate) and you don’t have to buy into them or investigate them. Imagine your thoughts and feelings passing, changing, and shifting like clouds in the sky.
4. Be Present and Stay in the Moment
All too often we function on autopilot, which significantly blocks connection in our relationships. Notice yourself zoning out or getting caught up in your thoughts and utilize your five senses to get back into the moment.
We’re all busy, but try to be present when you’re online dating or on a date instead of wanting to quickly move to the next thing.
For example, if you notice yourself getting caught up in anxious thoughts on a date, redirect yourself to the present by truly tasting your food or drink, listening actively, observing what is around you, etc. Also, be aware that getting ahead of yourself and moving too quickly can also result in dating challenges and lack of success. Remind yourself to slow down. For example, if it’s July and you’ve been on three dates with someone, don’t plan to spend Thanksgiving together. Bring yourself back to what is happening now and growing your connection in this moment.
5. Date With Intention and Be Conscious of the Energy You’re Putting Out
Think about who you want to be and be that person during the inevitable challenges dating brings. Have compassion, be kind, and be patient. Practice being less reactive in high-stress situations or when things don’t go your way by pausing and checking in with yourself before acting.
Instead of letting quickfire reactions take over, take time to analyze every dating situation and the best way to handle it. Photo source: TinyBuddha.com.
Get centered by focusing on your breathing and being mindful of your breath. Stay present and aligned with yourself to attract a good match and make dating a calmer, more enjoyable experience.
BE MINDFUL WHEN DATING!! MAKE A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO LEARN EVERYTHING YOU CAN ABOUT SOMEONE – AN OPEN MIND IS LIKE AN OPEN DOOR – IT ALLOWS LOVE IN!