Mindfulness is a way of approaching and experiencing the world, being present and aware, making decisions and life choices, and being in a relationship with yourself and others. You don’t have to meditate to be mindful (although, you certainly can), and you can access a mindful mentality in a quick second.
Jon Zabat-Zinn, Mindfulness Expert and Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Basically, being mindful is about being present and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Research finds numerous physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness, and being mindful can do wonders for your love life.
As dating tends to bring up nerves and insecurities, it’s common to seek protection from rejection by not actually being open and present and, instead, act distant or indifferent. Being in protective mode hinders availability for true intimacy and connection, which is where mindfulness comes in. Mindful dating involves being completely present, available, and authentic throughout the highs and lows of dating, even when anxious, insecure, or excited.
In this article, I’ll take you through five ways to apply a mindful approach to your dating life as well as four mindful dating websites you can use to stick with this new mentality.
5 Ways to Adopt a Mindful Dating Approach
A mindful approach to dating extends deeper than going through the motions by responding to online dating messages and saying yes to dates. It’s about openness and understanding that simply showing up for a date and participating in small talk is not enough. It’s about getting clear on what you’re looking for and taking deliberate action that’s in line with your values and goals. It’s about going on dates with appropriate matches and not playing games. It’s about letting go of judgment and gaining comfort in being yourself.
1. Deepen Your Understanding of Dating
You should also deepen your understanding of how you feel in the presence of potential matches. Understand that finding a partner is not about checking off boxes, finding someone who looks good on paper, or just showing up to a date. It is about connecting in the present moment through being vulnerable, taking the time to get to know someone, and exploring how you feel around them (without judgment, of course).
Tune in to how you feel around someone new instead of convincing yourself to like or not like someone based on how they appear on paper or what other people in your life will think. Ask yourself “How do I feel around this person? How do I feel after spending time with this person? Do I like who I am around this person? What does this person bring out in me? What feelings were provoked?” Use the answers to the above questions as emotional clues to determine how you feel and let go of any shoulds or supposed-tos.
2. Get Clear On Your Dating Desires and Goals
Start by considering the type of partner you want to attract and reflecting on what is important to you in a relationship. Spend time fine-tuning who you’re looking for, examining the type of relationship you hope to gain, and digging deep into your values.
Then be deliberate about who you ask out or say yes to dates with. Remember being mindful is the opposite of dating without a purpose, playing games with potential partners, and keeping score.
3. Take On a Mindful, Non-Judgmental Approach to Your Thoughts and Feelings
Be aware of your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, projections, assumptions, and history as these all affect how you relate to others. Be an observer to your thoughts and feelings and take an objective approach. Don’t judge yourself for how you feel. Instead, let your emotions come and go without attachment.
Use your breath as an anchor and let go of urges for rumination and obsessive thinking. Understand your thoughts are simply thoughts (and are not necessarily accurate) and you don’t have to buy into them or investigate them. Imagine your thoughts and feelings passing, changing, and shifting like clouds in the sky.
4. Be Present and Stay in the Moment
All too often we function on autopilot, which significantly blocks connection in our relationships. Notice yourself zoning out or getting caught up in your thoughts and utilize your five senses to get back into the moment.
For example, if you notice yourself getting caught up in anxious thoughts on a date, redirect yourself to the present by truly tasting your food or drink, listening actively, observing what is around you, etc. Also, be aware that getting ahead of yourself and moving too quickly can also result in dating challenges and lack of success. Remind yourself to slow down. For example, if it’s July and you’ve been on three dates with someone, don’t plan to spend Thanksgiving together. Bring yourself back to what is happening now and growing your connection in this moment.
5. Date With Intention and Be Conscious of the Energy You’re Putting Out
Think about who you want to be and be that person during the inevitable challenges dating brings. Have compassion, be kind, and be patient. Practice being less reactive in high-stress situations or when things don’t go your way by pausing and checking in with yourself before acting.
Get centered by focusing on your breathing and being mindful of your breath. Stay present and aligned with yourself to attract a good match and make dating a calmer, more enjoyable experience.
Mindful Dating Sites to Try
Mindful dating isn’t limited to your interpersonal thoughts and in-person interactions with others — the tips above also apply to your online dating life. Below are four dating websites that are not only great options for finding a match but also for maintaining a mindful mentality.
Match is the most well-established and respected dating site on the web. It was launched in 1995 before any other, and it has created more romantic connections than any other. Strictly for dates, relationships, and marriages, Match is a go-to for mindful daters.
Relationships: Friends, Dates, and Relationships
Match System: Browse by zip, age, appearance, more
Our Experts Say: “Match has facilitated the most dates and relationships of any dating site, and its large audience and high success rate make it our top review...” Full Review »
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|Gender Ratio||M: 49% | F: 51%*|
In addition to its reputation, Match has the numbers to back it up — more than 30 million members and 13.5 million visitors every month. And with numerous search features, you won’t have any trouble finding someone who has a similar mindful mindset.
2. Elite Singles
Your chances of meeting mindful men and women on Elite Singles are very high — over 2,500 members a month find love through the site. Another priority to its members is education, as 82% hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree. If that’s a priority for you as well, give Elite Singles a try.
Relationships: Serious Relationships
Match System: Search, Receive Partner Suggestions
Our Experts Say: “Elite Singles is a leading dating site just for busy, single professionals. More than 80% of members have earned a college degree, and most are looking for a serious commitment...” Full Review »
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|Gender Ratio||M: 43% | F: 57%*|
The site offers a free membership that never expires, so you can test drive everything it has to offer and fully commit only when you’re ready.
Thanks to its backing by psychologist Dr. Neil Clark Warren and an in-depth personality and matching questionnaire, eHarmony is a fantastic choice for mindful singles, as it’s straightforward, game-free atmosphere will lead them to their ideal partner.
Relationships: Casual Dates, Deep Relationships
Match System: Personality test suggests matches
Our Experts Say: “Accounting for 2% of U.S. marriages, eharmony's compatibility-based system and commitment-minded user base are ideal for those seeking a serious relationship...” Full Review »
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|Gender Ratio||M: 48% | F: 52%*|
Something else you might like about eHarmony is how easy it is to use. Once you fill out your profile and take the test (which could take as few as 10 minutes to as long as an hour), the site will do the rest for you. Compatible match suggestions will appear in your inbox every day, and eHarmony even helps with the communication process if you’re nervous about breaking the ice.
It’s in the name itself — MeetMindful.com is dedicated to daters with a cognizant outlook on every aspect of life. “Where mindful living meets online dating,” MeetMindful was created around 2013 and has been encouraging people to form meaningful bonds ever since.
You can take MeetMindful when you’re on the go as well — just download it on the App Store. It’s free to do so, and the app is compatible on phones and tablets.
Being a Mindful Dater Starts With Being Mindful in Life
Remember mindfulness is always available to you. You can practice mindfulness everywhere and through everything life brings. By engaging in a mindful perspective to dating, you will date with more intention and focus, be more open to appropriate matches, be less likely to judge yourself and others, and be available for greater connection and, in turn, increased dating success.