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  • paulinethepsychologist

Dating, Mindfully

Dating doesn't have to give you stomach ulcers. It can be a genuine and connecting experience. Learn how below.

I have heard again and again from clients about how stressful dating can be. I have written more about that in the first blog of this dating series.

But there is another way – a way not to buy into dating being equivalent to being on a battleground choosing between striking or protecting oneself.

How? Here’s how:

1. Start where it matters – lean in with your heart, not just your head

Too many clients approach dating like they approach buying a car. This isn’t just about tallying up stats and comparing prices, this is about opening up to the experience of connecting to another human being. It’s important to start there. Make a wholehearted decision to be open and available. Put it out there – meaning, talk to friends about being ready to date, tell a family member you are open to connection. Telling others both keeps you supported (and accountable) as well as helps people think about you when they meet new people (meaning they might introduce you to someone special – which is great because the people you love already share some common values with you that could help the connection stick).

With the new technology available, its easy to think that we can now be in total control of the dating situation. We can decide, set up the perfect profile, use the app’s amazing algorithm, and viola, avoid any of the real emotions. Hate to break it to you, but the tech will not inhibit the real emotions from coming along and you don’t want them out of the picture. They will help you make a decision along with #2

2. Understand what you want – What are your intentions? What you are looking for in someone else? Write it down!

Knowing what you are trying to get out of it can help guide you. Are you trying to learn about yourself? Wonderful! Cast a wide net. Meet all sorts of people. Exposure can help you get a sense for what is important to you. Looking to find a long-term mate? It might be beneficial to have a narrower filter based on shared values and guiding principles. Writing it down helps you anchor yourself in what is important and true for you. It’s easier to “forget” when it’s an abstract idea.

Having a hard time figuring out who might be good for you? Many people when starting to write a list of important traits end up writing down traits similar to themselves rather than complementary. One way around that? Ask a handful of close and trusted friends and family who they think might be a good match for you – values and character-wise. It is likely that the common answers among them are a good bet.

3. Know yourself – Be honest with and accepting of yourself and your boundaries

They say that you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs to meet a prince? Really? No! You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t work for you. For some, sharing physical intimacy is an important part of getting to know someone. For others, waiting to know and trust someone is a necessary predecessor to anything physical. Do not get wrapped in what you think “should” be happening. Fully embody what feels right for YOU. Research shows that casual sex can be harmful when people go into these encounters unaware of or dismissive of their true limits and wishes.

So go back to #1. If a long-term match is what your heart is longing for – don’t be swayed. Use this as your compass for navigating this process. Also, this isn’t a one-time process. Sometimes, we think we want one thing only to feel like something else is more fitting. Keep checking in with yourself.

In the next blog, I will dish out a few more tips. Check back soon!

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