How To Do Mindful Dating: 10 Tips

Mindful dating is now a thing! Here’s why, and how to do it

By Diane Small

Dating these days can be, well, pretty depressing. Dating apps make human beings seem like a commodity you can shop for online. And some apps, like Tinder or Grindr can make you feel like nothing more than a piece of meat. Is it any wonder more and more of us are feeling isolated and lonely? 

Luckily, there is a solution for the lovelorn: mindful dating.

What is mindful dating?

Mindful dating can be summed up as this: the process of being consciously aware whilst you’re on a date. It’s all about acknowledging how your feel with this new person, and to reflect on what your core values and necessities are. In short, it’s about being present and aware when you’re trying to find a partner.

And the results? Well, you’re more likely to find love. As opposed to a one night stand, or settling for someone who’s not quite right for you.

Ready to learn more about how to do mindful dating? Read on!

10 Tips for mindful dating

How To Do Mindful Dating: 10 Tips

1. Use dating apps mindfully

Our first tip for mindful dating is perhaps the most important one: use dating apps mindfully!

Technology has made dating easier… and more complicated. Although dating apps can help you find more singles in your area, they can also make you feel pretty crap about yourself if you don’t get the response you desire.

They can also lead you to believe that there’s no need to form lasting relationships with people, since there are so many ‘fish’ in the sea. And even if you find a partner, dating apps can give you a sense of FOMO. Is there someone better out there for you? That’s a question that can never be answered. It leads to deep dissatisfaction and a lack of gratitude and appreciation for what you might be taking for granted.

Using a dating app mindfully may mean not using it compulsively. Here’s how to set boundaries:

  • Occasionally, take a break. Put your phone aside and disable notifications.
  • Remember: using apps isn’t the only or best way to meet people. Make space for real life, too. Get out and meet real people, be they in bars, classes, through friends, or at work.

2. Ensure you’re ready

Are you actually ready for a relationship? Or are you just looking to meet new friends? Are you depending on these strangers to fill a void in your life that you need to work on?
Mindful dating is all about recognising your own needs. Sure, we all crave companionship, intimacy and love. So it can be tempting to cling to anyone that pays attention to us. But a good relationship won’t thrive until you’re in a good relationship with yourself, first. 
If you’re dating just to fill a void in your life, to avoid spending time alone, or because you’re absolutely desperate to find a partner to marry and have kids with, well, that’s not mindful dating at all. Be sure that you’re in a good place with yourself, and that you’re ready, willing and able to be a good partner to someone, if that’s what you’re aiming for.

3. Know what you’re looking for

Another aspect of mindful dating (mentioned above) is knowing what you’re looking for.

It’s impossible to date mindfully if you don’t know what you want from a partner. For example: are you contemplating a new job in a new town? Are you craving a year off to travel? Are you looking for someone that might be flexible enough to travel with you? Or have a long distance relationship for awhile? Or, are your working hours crazy? Do you not have much time to spend on a serious relationship? Let your date know about your lifestyle currently, and how to hope to spend the next few years.

Additionally, do you adore animals and have lots of pets? Make sure you avoid anyone who hates our furry friends. Is getting married and having kids a priority for you right now? Ensure you’re dating someone on the same page. These are all important points! You get the idea.

4. Read body language cues 

Body language is always important to help you read how another person feels. Sure, words are important, but it’s harder to hide how you really feel with body language. So, mindful dating is all about being conscious about what the other person is ‘saying’ – both linguistically, and through body language.

Is your date crossing his arms and leaning back? He might feel defensive. Is he mirroring your body language? That’s a good sign! Is his eye contact not great? Maybe he’s not really interested. Or, he could just be shy. Notice all of these signals, and try to interpret them accordingly.

5. Trust your intuition

A date with a stranger can be an exciting – or unnerving! – experience. You may notice different sensations arise as soon as you meet your date. Take note!

What does your immediate intuition tell you about this person? How do you feel after your date? Was your initial intuition correct?

For mindful dating, it’s important to pay attention to your intuition, and note how this person really makes you feel. If anything feels ‘off’ – trust your gut, and move on!

6. Be realistic

Most long-term relationships don’t start with a blinding passion. In fact, some of the most solid relationships often start off platonically. Mindful dating means regarding a person objectively rather than projecting unrealistic expectations on them. Expectations like: I like this guy, but I’m not feeling those butterflies in my stomach…. Or: Sure, he’s kind and handsome, but he doesn’t make loads of money….

Take it easy, and be patient. You might be surprised to find that a few months down the road, you’re still thinking about that person you rejected for not making your heart skip a beat every time he called, or for living up to what your image of the ‘ideal’ man is.

Mindful dating isn’t about being passionate about someone. It’s about truly getting to know the other person really well. So, if you just feel ‘good’ about a person you’ve been on a date with, well, that’s a hopeful sign!

7. Ask the right questions

An important practice of mindful dating is not being self-centred. To avoid that, ask good questions to your dates. Specifically, aim to ask questions surrounding the topic of compatibility. Sure, it’s more common to ask superficial questions about people’s general interests, hobbies, and daily life. And while those themes can work for the first hour or so on first dates, beyond that, you should go in for a deeper dive. 

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What’s your mom/dad like? How do you get on with them?
  • Did you have a happy childhood?
  • What are some of your most wonderful childhood memories?
  • How do you feel about your job these days?
  • Who’s your best friend? What do you love about them?
  • What have you learned from your past relationships?
  • What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
  • If you won the lottery, what would you do?

8. Don’t complain, don’t brag

Mindful dating is about knowing your boundaries. You’ve just met this person – don’t unload every complaint you have this week about work, your bestie, and your mom on them.

And though you want to make a good impression, don’t go off on a long brag about that time you met David Beckham, or how much your bonus was last year.

We often share TMI because we want people to like us. Sure, answer questions that your date asks, and do so honestly. However, don’t overshare. For example, if your date hasn’t asked about past relationships, don’t go there. Also, notice any patterns in the types of questions your date asks. This can help you understand the type of conversation they want to have. If you’ve been asked something that makes you feel uncomfortable answering, be sure to say so! A simple: “Hm, I don’t really want to answer that right now” is fine!

Also, never feel that you have to change who you are for the other person. Be aware if you’re feeling any pressure to present a new ‘persona’ to your date. That’s not good! It’s a cliche, but just be yourself, and allow your date to know who you really are.

9. Be kind

Obviously, not every date is going to present your dream partner. And some dates may be downright boring for you. But don’t say you’re going to the bathroom and escape through the window! Have a plan. For example, do go to the bathroom, and call a friend. Tell her to ring you in 15 minutes with an ’emergency’ you need to attend to, if you really want to get away.

In any event, be sure that when you’re letting someone down, you do so mindfully. Even if that person made you feel uncomfortable, remember that they’re still a human being with feelings like anyone else. Embrace that some people have different values and life experiences that make them who they are. And that no one is perfect!

Additionally, mindful dating means never ending a relationship via text or email. Be honest and kind about why you don’t want to pursue the relationship.

On the other hand, don’t be too upset if you’re rejected yourself. Ultimately, it’s a good thing: you’re growing closer to finding the right partner for you! Eventually, you’ll find him, and you’ll be so grateful for the rejection that hurt you previously.

10. Give yourself kudos

Mindful dating can help you become more aware of yourself and your own needs. It can also help you ensure that you’re dating a person you’re compatible with. By dating more mindfully, you will learn how to avoid the mistakes you’ve made in past relationships. And you’re more likely to find someone that makes you happy.

So, in short, you should give yourself a little pat on the back, for doing something that’s ultimately going to make your life a bit better!

Do you have any tips of your own for mindful dating? Let us know in the comments, below!

Diane Small
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