How To Take A More Mindful Approach To Dating

If you've ever found that dating makes you unhappy, you're not alone. It's easy to lose your footing. At some point you find that you're either dating the wrong people or just dating for the sake of dating. You're just not enjoying it anymore. And although there is always difficulties and stress in dating, it should, at its core, be fun and often downright silly. But if you lose sight of what you want and why you're doing it, then you can get overwhelmed and stop getting out if it what you were actually looking for.

So it's important to take a step back and be sure that you're actually choosing your own dating path, rather than being swept along, and that you keep checking in with yourself to make sure you're enjoying it and getting something from it. It's important to stay mindful.

I know that dating and mindfulness may not seem like natural bedfellows, but using some mindfulness techniques and applying them to your dating life can make sure that you're present. Especially with dating apps, you need to make sure you're actually engaged with what you're doing. "A mindful approach to life generally means doing one thing at a time and doing only that," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "Often when people use dating apps, they are ambivalent." But that ambivalence seems to be a part of modern dating generally, so don't be afraid to use mindfulness as a method to refocus and reconnect. Dating is an emotional process and you need to take care of yourself.

1. Make Sure You're In The Right Place To Be Dating

This is such an important foundation of dating — being in the right place for it. You need to be feeling balanced in yourself and your own life before you even begin to think of including someone else. Mindfulness can help you get there. "Mindfulness techniques such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, and mindful walks are known to decrease stress which will help regulate emotions," Kim Chronister, Psy.D., tells Bustle. If you have a better handle on your emotions, you're going to be so much better once you enter the dating scene.

2. Treat Others As You Would Want To Be Treated

Being mindful is all about being aware of our actions and this should genuinely always be a guiding principle. And we don't always do it, especially in 21st century dating. "Today's dating and communication has gotten so 'casual' that people do not always treat each other the way they themselves would like to be treated," Hartstein tells Bustle. Take a moment when you interact with someone — especially if you're breaking it off with them. Oh, and no ghosting allowed.

3. Be Mindful During Sex

Yup, you can certainly be mindful during sex, too. You'll improve your sex life tenfold if you focus on what your partner wants and tune yourself into how they respond, rather than just assuming they'll like something because your last partner did. “A great lover of any gender is enthusiastic, curious and fascinated by their partner’s responses," co-authors of Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships, Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels tell Bustle. "Great lovers are willing to experiment and try things that may be a turn-on; they’re able to listen to feedback, and have healthy sense of humor. When all partners approach sex with these attitudes, the results are exponential. Rather that a give and take, lovemaking can become a great adventure of mutually taking each other into higher states of ecstasy.” And if there's no orgasm, that's OK too. Mindfulness is all about enjoying the moment.

4. Check In With Yourself

This is the real bottom line. Almost everyone I've seen who isn't happy in their dating lives isn't taking enough to notice what they actually want and where they are— or at least, they're not willing to admit to it. If you've always thought you wanted a cookie-cutter relationship but are never happy, maybe you need to look at if that's what you actually want. If you are so focused on the dating that it's become joyless and an annoyance, pay attention to that. Ask yourself questions about what you want, what you need, and what you've learned — and pay attention to the answers.

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