Are you sick of swiping left? Done responding to messages that begin and end with “Hey”? Have profiles started to blur together into one generic guy who looks eerily like every Bachelorette contestant ever? Is that really another eggplant emoji?
For better or worse, technology has revolutionized the dating landscape. Apps like Tinder have literally made looking for love into a game, with users racking up matches like Pac-Man points. But what about those who genuinely want to find a partner and start a healthy relationship? The answer might be: be more mindful.
Yes, this buzz-y term can apply to your love life (not just to your yoga class or that meditation app you downloaded but never used). The idea behind mindful dating is to be more present and thoughtful in how you approach finding a partner—not that you’re not putting thought into this, but maybe you’re not directing those thoughts in the most effective places. So, to help you tackle dating from a fresh perspective, here are some mindful dating tips to consider:
1. Figure out what you want in a partner.
Before you even open up an app or log into a dating site, take some time to think about what you want in a mate, focusing on their character and personality and not so much on their physical traits. Think about it: Does he really need to be over six foot? Probably not. But is it essential for you that he cares about starting a family? Yes, probably.
Also, think about what type of relationship you want. Are you looking for something long term that leads to marriage? Or something more short term? And don’t be afraid to be honest about what you’re looking for on your profile. The more you reflect on what you want, the easier it will be to spot among that sea full of fish.
2. Ask thoughtful questions.
And avoid those yes/no questions. You want to get a better sense of the person behind the profile, so ask questions that are thought-provoking (who is the kindest person you know?) or maybe silly (what’s your favorite smell?) or even a twist of a tired trope (what’s your favorite bad movie?). Try not to be rude or intrusive, of course, but feel free to ask interesting questions beyond the usual chitchat you’ve stuck to before. This rule applies to first-date convos, too. If you’re passionate about a topic and looking for a like-minded mate, make sure to ask about it over drinks.
3. Check in with yourself.
Sometimes we’re so worried about impressing the person sitting across from us that we lose sight of how we really feel. Do you even like this person? Or are you consumed with the idea of them liking you? This might not be clear until after the date, so it’s a good idea to check in with yourself and really consider how you feel. Are you experiencing butterflies because you’re into him or because he makes you feel anxious? Learn how to spot the difference because how you feel should decide how you spend your time.
4. Be honest with yourself and your date.
Not into a date and feeling the urge to ghost her? It’s the easiest way to stop this thing, right? Well, not really. If you’re not interested in moving forward, be OK letting her know, “Hey, I had a great time with you, but I’m not feeling a romantic connection.” As a mindful dater, this isn’t about cutting corners or saving face, this is about finding a real, honest connection. Burning bridges on the road to love only make things more complicated. What if you run into her at the grocery store? You left that door ajar because you could hide behind your phone and now, IRL, you’re avoiding her in the canned foods aisle instead of saying hi, or—who knows!—learning she actually has a great person in mind for you.
OK, and if you are on the other side of ghosting—hey, it happens—try not to take it personally. Easier said than done—so, if your feelings are hurt, let them linger for 24 hours and then move on. This is just some feedback on your journey. Thanks to technology, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mindless dating, but you can learn to use it to your advantage.
Here are some apps that are geared toward more mindful dating:
Meetmindful: Designed for folks who are into yoga, meditation, an eco-friendly lifestyle and Brené Brown, Meetmindful helps connect these types of like-minded individuals, perhaps sparking some romance over green juice.
Sapio: Ever stumble across a dating profile in which the person lists themselves as a sapiosexual? Or maybe you’re that person? Basically, it means you find smarts to be sexy. Sapio claims to surface potential matches according to “both brains and looks” and help users find folks by matching them based on answers to open-ended questions. You’re able to see the answers but only after you've answered the same questions yourself.
Coffee Meets Bagel: Although this app is part of the Tinder generation, it’s considered a little more serious than the hook-up app. Women receive six matches, known as “bagels,” a day based on an algorithm, so you won’t have to swipe mindlessly 24/7. Plus, it prompts you with personalized icebreakers to make striking up conversation a little easier.
Her: This relatively newish dating platform aims to be a safe space for a multitude of genders and sexual identities such as lesbian, femme, trans and fluid. The diverse app also hosts online communities and IRL events, encouraging real-life meetups in a comfortable setting.
eHarmony: Geared toward serious daters who are looking for love and a relationship, this dating site is like a weed-out course in college: Only the truly dedicated will survive. That’s because users need to answer hundreds of questions from the start in order to determine compatibility with other users. The site then does the work for you by narrowing down prospects into a select group.