Intuitive Dating: Center Self-Care and Avoid Burnout
Using intuition and intention can help promote peace and pleasure in dating.
Posted October 28, 2019 | Reviewed by Hara Estroff Marano
The most common complaint I hear from clients about dating is that it’s exhausting. Whether people are spending hours scrolling through apps, writing unanswered messages, dealing with last-minute date cancellations, or experiencing the all-too-common phenomenon of ghosting, the effects are often frustration, fatigue, and even despair.
Part of this is because of the unprecedented amount of time and energy that people can now spend online dating. After all, when in the past could we spend hours a day sifting through potential partners? While dating apps are not the only way to meet people, their ubiquity has raised the appearance of abundance while also decreasing the likelihood that people will settle on a partner or partners.
One solution is to engage in intuitive dating. Like intuitive eating, the concept is simple but often requires large-scale internal and behavioral changes. However, the payoff is feeling more peace and pleasure in dating—as well as upping your chances to meet the best possible partner/s for you. Read on for five ways to engage in this practice.
- Set dating intentions. No matter what your ultimate dating goal is—finding one or more primary partners, looking for casual connections—it’s vital to set and hold that intention. While it may seem smart to sift through prospects and make decisions based on who or what is available, you’ll get more powerful results with a clear intention. This is not to say that you can’t change your mind. But if you do, check in with yourself and make sure you’re excited about the prospect instead of settling—and therefore taking time and energy away from your ultimate goal.
- Limit your time and take frequent breaks. In a similar vein, be intentional about the time and energy you spend on dating. Instead of scrolling while you watch TV or wait for a friend at a cafe, devote 15 or 20 minutes daily, and ideally integrate an opening and closing grounding meditation. (This could be as simple as taking a few deep breaths and remembering your dating intention before and after going on the app.) If you’re looking to meet people in person (say, at a bar or party), be intentional about those times. This is not to say that you can’t be open to someone who crosses your path, but it can be tiring to be constantly vigilant to “find” that person. If you’re taking a longer dating break, refocus intentions that previously may have included looking for dates. For example, if you’re going out dancing, focus on the enjoyment of seeing friends or connecting with your body.
- Focus on energy. Meeting people through dating apps can be difficult because we don’t get the same sense of a person on a screen that we would within a few minutes of talking to them. Still, it’s helpful to listen to your intuition as you exchange messages or plan a time to meet. If something feels off, or it’s difficult to pin someone down, that’s a good sign that it may not be worth pursuing. In person, if you’re actively open to meeting people, attempt to send out welcoming energy through body language. If people seem drawn in, take a few minutes to explore the connection and decide if you’re intrigued enough to learn more.
- Do your own (dating) work. Dating more intentionally is an excellent time to reflect on yourself, your dating history, and childhood wounds that might be affecting your current dating life. One book that helps with all these areas is Keeping the Love You Find, which leads readers through childhood developmental stages to pinpoint where their needs were unmet. Other forms of self-healing include therapy, bodywork, and dreamwork.
- Above all, take care of yourself. While doing your own dating work (#4) is an active process, you can also focus on allowing yourself to receive pleasure in its many forms. Many people unconsciously see dating as an excuse to treat both their partners and themselves well: nice meals, nights out, gifts, and more. But being single is an excellent opportunity to learn about how best to care for yourself, by treating yourself as kindly as your ideal partner would. Given that finding a partner/s does not end with happily ever after, this work will have long-lasting positive effects on your well-being. The added bonus is that this work will help you draw in the highest caliber person. People are attracted to those with similar values—so if you prioritize self-care, your future partner/s will, too.
I’d love to hear from you on this topic. Have you experienced dating burnout? What are your ideas for integrating more intuition, intention, and pleasure into your dating life?