Dating in today’s world can be complicated. With more and more dating sites and limited opportunities to meet someone on-the-go, the whole situation can feel a little overwhelming, even exhausting. With the ability to connect with so many different people on so many different platforms, it can feel easy to lose yourself in the process. Take a deep breath, slow down, and stay true to your values as you make new connections.
Practicing mindfulness is an important factor in the overall well-being of your mind, body, and soul. Extend those practices to your dating life to make the whole process more enjoyable. To help you step into a healthier and happier dating life, here are some do’s and don’ts for mindful dating:
Do: Check Your Energy
Your attitude directly affects your experience. If you’re feeling frustrated by the dating process, chances are you’re going to have a frustrating experience. Learn to bring positive energy to your dating life, and choose to believe there is purpose in the process. When you bring positivity to the table, you’re more likely to show up as your authentic self, allowing the other person to do the same. Be warm, open, and happy on your dates. Here are some pointers:
- Be complimentary. Find the good in everyone you meet, and use sincere compliments when in the company of someone new.
- Use your date's first name. It makes people feel seen and special.
- Smile. A warm smile can be more inviting than the perfect body or good looks.
- Be confident and upbeat. Everything is hard until it’s easy. Treat every encounter as practice for the real thing, and say yes more often. The more you date, the easier it becomes.
- Relax. You do not need to decide if this is your future spouse, so just enjoy yourself. Take the pressure off and be in the moment.
Do: Understand Your Communication Style
Your ability to have healthy, fulfilling, and happy relationships in your personal life depends largely upon your communication skills. Poor communication skills push people away and diminish opportunities for real connection. If you are unsure about how you show up, ask a friend or family member that you trust to give you constructive feedback. Listen openly and honestly to what they have to say. Here are some guidelines:
- Listen as much or more than you talk. Some people consider themselves skilled communicators because they can talk endlessly. This is not the path to making true connection; the ability to speak is only one part of the equation. The real beauty comes in listening actively to what the other person has to say.
- Ask questions. Be interested and sincerely listen when your date answers. The best communication occurs with an even and equal exchange between two people.
- Spark interesting conversation. Have two or three topics you are passionate about ready to go. Passionate people are incredibly compelling, regardless of what they’re passionate about.
Do: Define and Set Boundaries
Often you don’t recognize you have boundaries until someone repeatedly crosses them. You end up feeling angry, frustrated, or controlled, yet don’t understand exactly why. Be proactive in determining and setting your boundaries: what people can say to you, how you wish to be treated, and with whom you wish to spend time. Having strong boundaries reinforces self-esteem and emotional health. Remember, you teach people how to treat you. Here are some ideas:
- Keep it fairly short. One to two hours for a date is plenty. If it’s a great date, they will be excited to see you again.
- Know your limits. While it’s important to keep an open mind, if you clearly know that this person isn’t going to be a good fit for you, don’t try to force-fit anything. Simply enjoy the date for what it is and move forward. It’ll be better for you and them in the long run.
- Limit expectations. Go into a date with an open mind and with the expectation to have fun and make a new friend.
- Walk away if you are not being treated well. It demonstrates confidence and helps you to maintain self-respect in your dating life.
Do: Take Time to Reflect
After each date, take time to reflect on how you showed up, where you shined, how you made the other person feel, as well as areas where you can improve. If you don’t hear from the person again or if there’s not a second date, don’t take it personally. Not everyone you date will be a romantic connection. Look for any lessons you may have learned along the way:
- Actions speak louder than words. Watch patterns and behavior, not just what is verbally said.
- When people show you who they are, believe them.
- Speak your truth with honesty and sensitivity, and then move on. It’s a healthy practice.
Do: Put Yourself in Situations to Meet New, Like-Minded People
If you’re not meeting anyone date-worthy, take a look at where you spend your time. If you are looking for someone like-minded, with interests in spirituality, wellness, and yoga, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Here are some ideas:
- RSVP YES to invites: If you’re invited to dinner parties, birthday gatherings, art openings, new yoga classes or events, and dance classes, especially with new people, go! Too often we make excuses or get too busy, yet it’s common to meet someone special through mutual friends.
- Ask friends to set you up: Ask five people who know you well (and you trust!) to set you up with someone with similar interests.
- Sign up for MeetMindful: Sign up for MeetMindful, the new app that connects like-minded singles with others interested in mindfulness, health, and wellness.
Regardless of how hard dating can feel, there is no benefit in wallowing in your own self-pity. While there can be healthy amounts of processing the hardships you’re facing (or asking the Universe “Why?”), don’t let it become a regular practice, and especially not on a date. Negativity is a huge turn off. When you complain about the dating scene or say that you’ve had no luck in dating, this implies you are not interested in the person sitting across from you. Also, be mindful of what you are broadcasting to the Universe. You want to put good vibes out there.
Don’t: Reveal Too Much Too Soon
Transparency is a sign of a healthy relationship, but isn’t a must on a first date. Be honest, without laying all your cards on the table. When you reveal too much too soon, it can give a false sense of intimacy. In reality, premature or exaggerated revelations are due more to boundary issues, unresolved pain, or self-centeredness than true intimacy. A date is not the time to purge and vent, especially about an ex. Sharing war stories about your ex could imply that haven't let go or moved on. No matter how you feel in the moment, the first date is not the time to vent.
Don’t: Move Too Fast
Getting to know someone should be a slow and safe process. Some people are overeager to go too far, too fast—both physically and in conversation. There is plenty of time in the future to go deep, should the relationship evolve. In the beginning, make sure to:
- Be Cautious with Physical Intimacy: Building physical intimacy too quickly can create chemical reactions that make us think we’re in love, and confuse attraction with true love. Go slow and enjoy the process of getting to know someone on a physical level.
- Test the Waters on Sensitive Topics: Before diving deep into meaningful, political, religious, or otherwise potentially sensitive topics of conversation on the first date, find out if the other person is ready to discuss those things.
Don’t: Take It Personally
With dating comes rejection. Getting stressed or hurt if someone chooses not to go out with you again is not productive. Although it’s never fun accepting that someone didn’t choose you, often that discomfort comes from trying to understand what you did wrong or how you can fix it. There’s no need to change yourself just to influence someone else’s opinion. Accept that other people have a right to be authentic about their own feelings, even if those feelings aren’t romantic about you. After all, if everyone thinks they’re the perfect match for you, it won’t end up being as special when you do find your perfect fit.
On the flip side, if you decide to break it off with someone, there is no need to feel guilty. Although you may feel you are letting someone down, it will be better for them (and you) in the long run if you are upfront and honest with your feelings. That just wasn’t your person. The journey will flow when you learn not to take things personally.
When you’re mindful of how you show up and how others show up in your love life, you learn a lot more along the way and true spiritual growth can take place. Look for the spiritual web of connection between people and events—the patterns that reveal something deeper within you—they are always available if you choose to look for them. This is the way the Universe gently guides you toward your joy and purpose.
Practice embracing the dating journey and all the lessons it reveals to you … and always remember to love yourself in the process.