Have you ever caught yourself endlessly scrolling a dating app, kind of like it's a poker machine? Or getting wrapped up in future projections when first meeting someone? Or maybe you fancy that cute person on the train, but are too shy to approach them?
Bringing mindfulness to dating can make it a joy as well as an opportunity for deep inner growth. This is the promised land of better dates!
Simply put, mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. It encourages us to consciously look within, be curious and observe our inner world without judgment, let go of anxiety and what doesn’t serve, and look after yourself.
When we’re not mindful, we can be distracted by our own thoughts, worries and subconscious patterns, and fail to see and hear what other people are doing and saying. We can miss the joy and the potential of right now.
In the context of dating, mindfulness is a gamechanger. It means more connection, freedom, growth, spontaneity, joy and pleasure (and yes, that includes better sex). It means less anxiety, missed opportunities, confusion, staleness, stuckness and regrets.
Sounds good, doesn't it?
Well before matching with anyone, reflect on what you truly want in an intimate experience or relationship. It’s okay to want what you want and, in fact, those desires are your compass directions for your greatest expression in this life. Trust them.
Clarity about what you desire and honouring what you truly want makes all the difference when you’re in the process of matching. While you don’t have to cling to your five-year plan and share it on a first date, it’s an act of self-love to go for what you truly want and not compromise on that.
It’s also fair and respectful to the other person to be clear with them and means you’ll match with folks who are truly compatible. Plus it’ll save you the umming and arring if ‘this’ match is really the one for me.
Some reflective questions you can ask yourself are…
This matters to us at Lua and so our dating app has a great profile section where you can express this kind of thing and match with like-minded folks ✨
A big theme in mindfulness is taking a look at what’s happening in your mental and emotional landscape. What thoughts are passing by when you’re scrolling, swiping, or catching the eyes of the cute person on the train?
All this takes is choosing to pause and notice what are the thoughts that are passing through my mind right now? How am I feeling right now? It can take some time to form this habit, but this is where daily meditation comes in handy (even two minutes a day on Headspace is a game changer).
If you notice judgmental thoughts, self doubt, or intense emotional discomfort take note! This can be your subconscious showing you where you can soften, open, and trust more. Chances are there is a limiting belief at play — one you can let go of. Everyone experiences difficult thoughts and feelings from time to time, but the mission here is to uncover what’s there and let go of whatever isn’t really serving your greatest potential. There are many ways to get under the hood of our inner workings, for example, Tara Brach’s book, Radical Acceptance.
A mindful way to know if you’re really into someone is to notice how your body feels when you’re with them. Of course on first dates you might be filled with nerves and a sense of excitement or tension, but tune into the feeling in your body when you’re around them: does your body have a sense of opening and excitement? Or does it feel closed or flat?
The feeling of openness indicates a sense of flow, connection and YES.
The feeling of closedness indicates a sense of disconnection and NO.
Trust your body.
Have you heard that attention is the new currency?
When meeting your match for a date, give them your full attention. When the world is so full of distractions, your attention is a true gift and it is essential for genuine intimacy (into-me-you-see).
When someone is present with us, we feel special and like we matter. This makes us feel safe and willing to open up. This is amazing for intellectual and emotional intimacy, but it’s also essential for great erotic intimacy too. Without presence, our body becomes closed and orgasmic potential drops dramatically. So the more present you are, the better heart/mind/physical intimacy you have!
So, put down your phone, choose to focus your attention
Bonus if you can also avoid multitasking while chatting with matches online ;)
Studies show that the average person remembers just 25% of what someone has told them only a few minutes prior to being asked. Mindful listening means consciously choosing to pause your own inner dialogue or need to talk so you can hear the message your date is sharing with you. Active listening makes your date feel understood and builds trust (hello, great intimacy).
The opposite of active listening is distracted listening. That’s when you are physically present, but your mind is elsewhere. By being more interested in the noise of your own thoughts, you’re showing that you don’t value what they’re trying to say. (hello, flat intimacy).
So, how to practice active listening? Notice when you’re mentally drifting, judging or devising what to say next while your date is speaking. Instead focus your attention on what they’re sharing, totally.
Mindfulness involves noticing what’s happening within you. That’s great, but when you’ve clocked something that’s bubbled up within you, why keep it hidden there? If there’s something to share with your date and the time is right, share it! Maybe it feels vulnerable to do so, but again, this is what intimacy is made of.
Your date wants to see inside you! They want the real you, unfiltered. That’s hot.
Speaking honestly might mean sharing just how much you like them. It might mean saying thanks, but I don’t think I want to continue this. It might mean disclosing something quite personal about your life or feelings. It might mean telling a silly joke that made you laugh.
As Rumi says, if the words come out of the heart, they will enter the heart.
Humans are social creatures. We have an acute need to form relationships for our survival: friendships, romantic relationships, and communities through to tribes, cities, and nations. A huge part of maintaining relationships means being accepted by others. Our instinct strives for this and it can subconsciously feel like death when we don’t fit in.
Psychological studies actually show that rejection causes the brain’s pain receptors to respond as though the body had been physically injured. We register the ache of rejection as real pain!
Ghosting is also a form of rejection and has its own pains (we cultivate a no-ghosting culture on Lua).
How can mindfulness help?
If you have a mindfulness practice, you’re in luck. According to the results of a small study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience in 2018, people who practice mindfulness don’t feel the same distress or pain of rejection compared to those who don’t practice the same techniques. A practice of self-awareness and meditation equips you to self-regulate anger and other difficult emotions in tough times.
But even if you don’t have a solid mindfulness practice, take some cues from mindfulness:
1. Don’t minimize your pain and let yourself feel what you’re feeling. It’s okay to feel! All feelings pass.
2. Be curious about what comes up when you receive a rejection. Our limiting thoughts, feelings, beliefs can get activated when we receive a rejection. In a way, this is a goldmine for catching our subconscious patterns and choosing to let go of them. Now’s a good time to journal.
3. Be kind to yourself. Rather than judging and beating yourself up, actively say to yourself the things you need to hear right now.
And if you’re rejecting someone, remembering how tender the heart (and brain!) is, so do so compassionately. This includes taking the minute it takes to close a connection and avoid ghosting.
Lua is launching soon. Get matched with like-minded and mindful folks: apply for Lua now and get notified when the app is available in your area.
Caitlyn is an artist, writer, embodied spirituality and mindful sexuality practitioner, facilitator, and podcast host.
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