mindful dating

Mindful Dating

Natalie Buchwald, LMHCHealthy Relationships

By Natalie Buchwald, LMHC | Last Updated: June 14th, 2023
Reviewed by Steven Buchwald

Scrolling through dating apps has become a cornerstone of modern dating, but that doesn’t mean finding the perfect partner is always easy.

Perhaps you’re spending time on dating apps, matching with a lot of people but not meeting anyone you can really see yourself having a relationship with, or you’re stuck meeting the same type of people over and over.

Perhaps when you do meet someone you connect with, there’s too much game-playing for the relationship to grow and move forward.

The pitfalls of modern dating—especially dating on apps—are all too common. They often lead to unhealthy relationships that can’t last.

Playing games where neither of you is being your authentic self can make it especially hard to form a meaningful bond.

Past trauma or pain you haven’t fully healed can make it even harder to connect and grow.

For many, the antidote to a dating life that feels like it’s going around in circles is a new approach. Mindful dating can make dating on the apps more meaningful, more productive and lead to better relationships.

What Is Mindful Dating?

When you date mindfully, you’re applying the principles of mindfulness—like being aware of your emotions and being in the moment without judgment—to the dating process, from screening potential matches to handling rejection to building a relationship.

Mindfulness can improve your dating in a number of ways, including:

  • Helping you be true to yourself
  • Bringing clarity about who you are and who you’re looking for
  • Helping you pay attention to how you’re connecting with potential partners

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How to Date Mindfully

Here are a few ideas for making your dating more mindful:

Know Yourself

Take the time to get to know yourself. To know who you are, what you want out of a relationship, and what brings you joy in relationships.

Looking back at your previous relationships, when were you happiest? What are the features of your friend and past lovers that bring the best in you?

Figure Out What You’re Looking For

Are you looking for someone to spend time with casually, a committed relationship, or something else? What traits and experiences do you need your partner to bring to the table?

What Do You Bring to the Table?

What are your strengths? What past patterns of behavior or any trauma are you still working through? Be clear with yourself about who you are and what you’re bringing to a relationship, in every dimension.

It might be hard to look at yourself objectively. Ask your friends and family and even others that don’t know you so well and pay attention to the consensus that comes about. Perhaps they all agree that you have a very dependable emotionally intelligent individual. Whatever it is. There is much to learn about yourself and what your strength in a relationship might be by asking others how they perceive you. After all, relationships depend on the wellbeing of both partners so asking how you come across might be instructive.

When you have the answers to these questions and others like them, you can be more intentional about the people you form relationships with.

During the Date, Pay Attention to How You Feel

It’s easy to get carried away by physical chemistry or fun experiences, but it’s also important to be aware of your emotional experience when you’re around someone else. Do you feel energized, curious, or interested? Or does it feel stressful or boring?

Do you feel like you can be your whole self around this person? Is there any part of you that you don’t feel comfortable bringing out around this person? If you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone better to be sure they accept and love you fully as you are. If you feel like major parts of yourself need to be kept in the shadows to please them, this is a red flag.

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Ask the Important Questions — and Really Listen to the Answers

When you’re getting to know someone, it’s important to find out about their core values, past experiences, and outlook on life. Be sure you’re asking about the things that matter to you, and listen to the answers you get.

Be Aware of How You React to Potential Partners — and How they React to You

Be conscious of your emotional response, especially during times of conflict or heightened emotion. If someone triggers in you an unhealthy emotional response, try to find out the reason.

Conversely, remember that when you date someone, you’re dating their inner child as well. Evaluate how they react when they’re upset about something you say or do.

Do they have the skills to respond appropriately when they’re upset, or do they lash out or react in an unhealthy way? These factors are important to consider as you start on the path toward a relationship.

Accept Rejection as Part of the Process

Finding the right partner takes time and tends to involve a certain amount of rejection. Remind yourself that rejection on the apps isn’t a statement about your value as a person. It’s just part of the process, and it brings you one step closer to finding your person.

Dating mindfully can help you better understand yourself and find the right partner who can truly understand you. But it’s not always easy. If you need help working through anxiety or past trauma, or learning how act mindfully, contact Manhattan Mental Health at 212-960-8626. Our trained and knowledgeable counselors can help you navigate the difficult process of dating and better understand yourself. We offer in-person and online sessions to help you work through trauma, relationship questions, or any other issues you’re dealing with.