We’ve all been there. That blind set up/Tinder match/person you flirted with briefly at the party shows up for your first official date and, lo and behold, they’re not at all who you think they were. They represented themselves so badly, so dishonestly, that when you met them you thought they were:
- a successful entrepreneur
- good looking
- sharp as a tack
In the light of day, they are:
- oddly racist
- trying to come up with “the next big app idea” out of their mom’s garage
In today’s dating world, most people do not represent themselves authentically. When you go on a dating site you see a resume of sorts, guiding you to the best (and sometimes most fabricated) qualities of your suitor. The thing is, we can’t really change how other people represent themselves in the dating world, but we should be able to present our most authentic selves when we enter into a romantic encounter.
I teach meditation (yes, that’s a real job). After my first book, The Buddha Walks into a Bar came out, I went on tour and was bombarded by questions about bringing mindfulness meditation into that big bar activity: dating. Luckily, it's totally doable.
Here are my suggestions as to how establishing a regular meditation practice can help you cultivate more authenticity and satisfaction in your dating life.
recognize the need for slow dating
Recently, I launched a workshop around it entitled, “Slow Dating.” It was a play on a recent phenomenon: the slow food movement. Because fast food has become so prevalent, starting in 1986 a number of people have joined in the idea that we can counter the unhealthy aspects of those fast food restaurants by preserving traditional cuisine based in local farming methods.
My idea was to counter the speed dating culture that has popped up in this last generation. Within traditional speed dating, you're given a very limited amount of time to sit down with a number of people and see if you want to go on a date with one another. In talking with friends who have gone to these sorts of events, they often felt flustered, that there wasn’t a lot of time to connect with the other person, and that they spent their time trying to sell themselves, presenting only the most attractive aspects of who they are.
These days, going to an actual event and meeting real people is rare. With the advent of Internet dating, things have gone even crazier. Apps like Tinder, where you literally look at someone’s picture for one minute then make a snap judgment about whether you want to flirt with them or not, has led to a speedy, chaotic, expectation fueled dating environment. Here's how meditation might help you slow the whole game down.
contemplate your reasons for dating in the first place
Slow dating is based in meditation practice, where we are physically and mentally slowing down and connecting to who we truly are. Try contemplating your intention for why you are looking for someone to date. Is it because you are lonely and desire companionship? Is it because you are trying to get over a broken heart? Is it because you want to genuinely connect with someone? As with all things, knowing why we want to engage in an activity helps us clarify how we approach it.
When you are slowed down you see yourself fully and can present all of who you are, as opposed to trying to offer your credentials for why someone should be attracted to you. It is not sitting down next to someone and telling them all about your important job, or name-dropping all sorts of minor celebrities you know. It is touching your basic sanity, and acting from that perspective.
how meditation helps
When we meditate regularly there is a shift in view that takes place. We begin to want to just be there with another person, and experience them for who they are, as opposed to projecting what we might want from them. At one point, the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron offered a very simple meditation instruction to a group of students: Be fully present. Feel your heart. And engage the next moment without an agenda. That is the practice of slow dating.
When you are truly present on a date, you can engage another person without an agenda. You may find that you are making an offering of yourself, just as you are. You are radiating confidence that comes from living with an open heart (which, as it turns out, is also pretty attractive). You are also acknowledging who they are without rushing to judge whether they are “the one” for you. You are able to listen to them and discover what you may have in common. Which brings us to...
Forming Genuine Connections
The more we meditate, the more we are able to form a genuine connection with anyone we encounter, because we are dropping our agenda and fixed views around what we think we need in a partner to be happy. We can deeply listen to whomever we meet, and take that as a practice where we are inquisitive about our own self and curious about others. We can bring ourselves fully to these simple conversations, and transform small talk with a big view.
When you are able to approach dating in this way you may find yourself meeting lots of people. People are attracted to someone who is genuinely who they are. When you are relaxed and genuinely appreciative of the other person, they will want to learn more about you as well. Of course, this advice is not just about dating — we can bring ourselves authentically to all aspects of our life. The more we make ourselves available through meditation, the more possibility we see exists in the world and the more magnetizing we are in all ways.
Images: Balint Földesi/Flickr; Giphy