5 Tips for Mindful Online Dating

On a scale of 1-10, how sick are you of the current dating scene? Most of you will probably say 11. Talking heads on television rant about how our addiction to our phones and tablets are ruining society and while I won’t go that far, I do believe that they are having a negative effect on relationships.  We have allowed social media to infiltrate our lives and we can’t get enough. Dating apps, in particular, play on the popularity of the “hookup culture” as well as reducing human beings to statistics. How many times have you or your single friends deleted their dating apps in frustration only to download them again later? The companies behind these apps know how to hook you and keep you in the game. How can you stay “in the moment”  as you navigate this maze?

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1. Instagram stretches the truth. If you scroll through long enough, your idea of what real men and women are supposed to look like will (subconciously) change. Of course, you KNOW these “instagram influencers” are using lighting and editing effects, but the brain starts to see them as normal the more it is presented with the images over and over. Keep that in mind when you meet someone on the first date. Are you comparing their hair, nose, arms to an ideal image that isn’t even real?

2. Use your five senses. If you are on a first (or second, or third) date with a person and you find your mind wandering, bring it back by engaging your five senses. Recognize the feel of something you are touching, the smell of the restaurant, the sound of your date’s voice, the taste of your food/drink, and maybe actually looking at the color of your date’s eyes. Yes, your mind might be wandering because the person across the table is painfully boring, but they are still a person who has made time in their life to be here, just like you. They deserve your full attention, rather than half of it because you are wondering if that other guy/girl has messaged you back yet…

3. NO CELL PHONES DURING A DATE. Keep it in your purse or pocket. No putting it on the table. The temptation to check is too much. Put it on silent and leave it alone. “But, what if there is an emergency?” True emergency situations (threat of loss of life or loss of life) are rare. Your friend texting you a meme is not an emergency. An Amazon notification that your package has shipped is not an emergency. A new Snapchat story about what your friends are doing tonight is not an emergency. Your kid calling because he/she can’t find their shoe is not an emergency. If you see that your date has their phone out, say something like “ Do you think that we can spend this time together without our cell phones?” If they refuse, finish the date but don’t agree to a second. Obviously, engaging with and learning about you is not that high on his or her priority list.

4. Stay away from hookup sites (unless that’s what you want). I’m not going to say that dating just to have sex is wrong. If you really feel you can have sex with someone with absolutely no emotional attachment, be safe and go for it. But, don’t go on a site notorious for hookups and think you are going to find a quality, committed relationship. Take a second and think about what you are looking for and what you are not looking for and spell that out in your profile. You may not get as many hits than if you said “just looking for fun” but you will weed out the men/women who are just looking for something physical.

5. It’s ok to hate dating. Just know that you can’t change it with frustration. It takes around 10 years for a societal shift to happen, you throwing your phone across the couch and swearing off relationships isn’t going to change that. The only thing you can do is be mindful about how you want to be treated and how you treat other people.

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