In a world that moves so quickly, where our time (especially our IRL time) is precious, in a society with extreme option overload, how does one date mindfully? That’s a question I’ve gotten more than a handful of times. To be honest I’m not 100% sure what it means and to be even more honest, just like the definition for the term dating differs from person to person, I’m sure what mindful dating looks like changes from one person to another.
Let’s break it down.
According to Greater Good Magazine, “Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”
Let’s outline what it mindfully dating isn’t first —
it’s not endlessly swiping on an app
it’s not texting//messaging for hours on end
it’s not changing your entire day or life to suit someone else’s, let alone someone you barely know
it’s not talking about the weather, your immediate physical surroundings or how many kids you want
it’s not drinking, hooking up, and sneaking out the door before your day starts
it’s not feeling anxious about letting someone know how you feel
it’s not waiting an hour to text someone back if they waited an hour to respond to you (NO GAMES PEOPLE)
it’s not pretending to be someone you’re not aka don’t try to fit the mold (you’re better than that)
Now that you’re thinking geez, I’ve done so many of those things, how do I jump into the dating world mindfully?? Here’s my definition —
MY DEFINITION OF MINDFUL DATING = being present and enjoying the person you’re with for who they are, what you’re doing, and how it all makes you feel (the person, the activity, the vibe) IN THE HERE AND NOW. It’s not about the kind of person you think maybe they could be, or the activity you could be doing or vacation you could be going on when you get the promotion you’re talking about, or the house you think you could live in after you get married (I know I’m not the only one who makes up the future tailspin stories before they even know a persons middle name). It’s about right here right now. If you’re not totally into what is currently happening, who the person next to you is, and how you feel RIGHT NOW when you’re around them — press the eject button.
This isn’t easy. It takes self work. It also takes the right partner. There will also be times you don’t want to mindfully date. Maybe you just want to go out, have fun, and hook up with someone. If that’s what your current needs are, honor them! You can’t fake a mindful date. Be real with yourself first. Because you will project what you want and what you’re worth whether you’re meaning to or not.
How to set your self up to date mindfully:
Understand what you want (hookup, boyfriend, long term partner, etc)
Feel confident in yourself and what you’re deserving of
Be real from the get go
Say what’s on your mind (don’t hold back) — if I've learned one thing, it’s that you can never say the wrong thing to the right person. Say bye to the days of asking your girlfriends to write your texts for you. If you’re speaking as you from your heart, soul, and spirit no matter how silly what you say may sound if the person is for you THEY WILL RESPOND. I swear, it’s like magic. If you say something less than fab and they (a) don’t laugh it off with you or (b) don’t respond, trust me, they’re not your person
No game playing - if they text you and you read it, text them back! Don’t be the person who sits on it for a day to not look overeager.
Before a first date, see if you have any mutual friends. Talk to them, feel the situation out! I would actually suggest not going out with a person just because you find them attractive. Find 3 non-physical things you like about them // pings that guide you towards them before saying yes. AN EXAMPLE FROM MY LIFE: they have hobbies I think are cool, we have a mutual friend who says yes go they’re amazing, they’re close with the women in their family, they exude a vibe I'm drawn towards (I’m a vibe kind of person, just like some people can see someones aura, I can feel it). Truth be told the guys I’ve gone out with purely from a physical attraction standpoint without fail always end up being duds or have an avoidant attachment style
Feel excited about it. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut feeling meh about first dates. It turns into a chore. THAT SAID, beyond a first date you should feel excited and happy about a date. If you’re not cancel it. Another note here on butterflies — truth be told, I’m not actually sure these are a good thing and I would tread carefully. My better dates and life experiences have been with people who make me feel comfortable, at ease, and at home with them. The butterflies lead to anxiety and there’s a reason I don’t feel settled around them
I hope that gives you some action steps! I think it also helps a lot to know your human design so you have a good understanding of how you function in the world and exchange energy with others.
NOWW onto mindful dates. News flash! A date doesn’t have to mean a drink or dinner and a drink, or a movie, etc. The best dates in my book are either experiences or something outdoors and totally free. Here are some ideas. I’ll bold the ones I've done so you can ask me questions about them if you want.
Date Ideas (beyond the first date)
a hike or beach walk (bonus points if neither of you have been on it)
acro or arial yoga // your favorite type of yoga, but I recommend something somewhat experimental vs. sweaty (I took a guy to restorative yoga aka adult nap time and he loved it — it’s a good option because it’s relaxing after a busy day and you don’t have to have experience or be physically flexible so it’s not intimidating)
foot massages or reflexology
rock climbing or bouldering
farm or winery tour // tasting
animal sanctuary visit (goatlandia in Santa Rosa is on my list)
apple // berry // pumpkin picking
cooking class (18 reasons is a great spot for this in SF)
crystal shop visit + tarot card reading (okay maybe this is too much, but you never know!)
day trip out of your town // city (would reserve this one for after the first date)
tantra class (for the experimental ones!)
festival day — be it a food, music, or yoga festival
5k and lunch
farmers market and home cooked meal
private pilates session
picnic in the park
have a bath (this is my current favorite date — #selfcare plus, good face time, the best kind of skin to skin time, and a foot rub if you’re lucky…amongst other things)
**anything side by side is nice because it allows you to dig deeper into conversation. It’s easier to share, but still feel close and emotionally supported by then when you’re side by side and actively doing something.
p.s. for when the date is over and things get spicy — be sure to check out my nontoxic condom roundup and snag the promo code for my new favorite brand.