Dating is glamorized in movies as being fun and exciting (and then 90 minutes later everyone is married and happy), but it can really be fraught with stress.
Which app do you use? Do you just hope you meet through friends? Do you make the reservation? Do they? Will the date be terrible? How soon after the first date do you text? What if they text back “k”? What if they don’t text back at all? At what point are you allowed to ask where this is going? What if that’s the question they don’t text back to?
Meeting new people, putting yourself into potentially uncomfortable situations, and trying to determine who to spend your time with (let alone the rest of your life) can be very stressful. But there’s something that can help navigate the murky waters of love: mindfulness. Meditation can help keep things fun and exciting—and keep you from being frustrated. Here’s how:
It’s tempting to flash-forward to the future and think about what’s going to happen between you and the person you swiped right on. After all, you’re in control when you’re making them up in your head. Real life is a little more messy. But part of the beauty of meditation is allowing yourself to be in the present, and not focused on what may or may not happen in the future, or what happened in the past.
After a few dates, it’s natural to wonder what the other person thinks of you, and if you’ll be going on more dates. It’s also tempting to put meaning on everything and analyze what they say and do. “What does it mean if they say something and then run their hands through their hair? Clearly, it has to mean something!” It’s natural to think these things, but it might feel better to just be as present as you can when you’re around them, and not concern yourself with an imaginary future created in your mind.
As it was pointed out in a Headspace session I recently listened to: you can’t force yourself to fall asleep. If it were a matter of effort, there’d be a lot of insomniacs enjoying a long, uninterrupted night of sleep tonight. You also can’t force yourself not to think about things when you’re sitting down to meditate—you have to acknowledge your thought and go back to focusing on the breath.
There’s a good lesson here. It might be more helpful to let the relationship unfold naturally, and see where things take both of you. Especially in the beginning of a relationship before you’ve made it exclusive, there’s nothing more required of you than to just enjoy the other person’s company.
Texting is both an easy way to reach out to someone and an easy way to cause you so much stress you want to throw your phone in the largest body of water you can find. Some relationship experts might say that you shouldn’t reply to a text until you wait exactly three hours, ten minutes, and fifteen seconds. Those people seem to be overthinking things.
Instead of wondering why the other person hasn’t texted you back (especially when you know they’re looking at their phone since they just posted to Instagram), it might be better to put the phone down and do something else. And if you’re able to use the skills from your meditation practice, you’ll be able to focus on whatever activity you’ve chosen, and be present while doing something that doesn’t cause you nearly as much stress.
Worrying about the status of an intricate text relationship isn’t going to help the situation—and maybe hitting play on an SOS meditation session or two on Headspace when you get caught up in things wouldn’t hurt either.
Andy once said in a Headspace pack that we’re constantly telling stories about ourselves, and comparing our current experience to what happened to us previously, or how we expect things to go in the future. But all those stories are simply made up by our mind—what a sneaky little devil.
It’s understandable to compare whoever you’re dating with people you’ve previously dated. It might be more helpful to allow the person in front of you to be judged on their own merit, without the burden of comparing them to everyone you’ve ever dated.
The author of this post is an editorial contributor to Headspace. These are their views, experiences and results and theirs alone. This contributor was paid for their writing.