"She caught him cheating, but he wasn't the first." My friend started to think she was the problem.

Kelly E.

Sometimes you need to find a new way to date

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Danielle had been in a series of terrible relationships. Her last one ended a few years ago when she discovered he was cheating on her. I’ve known Danielle a long time and she’s an intelligent, thoughtful woman. She thinks carefully about her choices and is mindful in every area of her life, except in her relationships.

Danielle falls in love quickly — often at first sight — and lets her heart rather than her head make all the decisions in love. But after the cheater, she’d had enough. She decided it was time to apply mindfulness to her love life too.

You can be mindful in love just like any other area of your life. Falling in love and choosing a partner can be a decision you make with both your heart and your mind. Mindfulness is just a term for being aware; noticing your thoughts, feelings, body, and what’s going on in the present moment.

Here are 6 things to help you slow down and mindfully decide if the person you’re dating is the one you want to invest in long-term.

1. It’s not infatuation.

It’s hard to see your relationship clearly until you pass the infatuation stage.

Danielle often started to talk about marriage in the first few months of her relationships. I tried to be non-judgmental every time she announced, “This is the one! He’s moving in next week!”

When she met Blake she turned him down for weeks. She wanted to take it slowly this time. They went out with friends rather than on their own initially. Danielle wanted to make sure she enjoyed his company, not just found him attractive.

Mindfully choosing means recognizing the infatuation stage as what it is — attraction not love — and taking things slowly.

2. It’s not perfect.

No relationship is perfect, even with the one!

At the beginning of her relationships, Danielle talked about each new boyfriend as if they were gods. They were flawless! As she started to change the way she dated, I saw a shift in how she talked. When she discussed her new man Blake, she openly shared his flaws. “He’s a bit of a bloke. He struggles when it comes to anything about feelings,” she told me one day. They were working through it, but she could see his flaws and I was relieved to hear it.

Mindfully choosing your partner means not expecting perfection. You can get locked into the idea that your soul mate will be perfect. You can even convince yourself they are. But you’re not perfect — why would you expect them to be? See their flaws, acknowledge them, and decide if they’re flaws you can live with, or even learn to love.

3. It’s carefully considered.

Carefully considering the strengths and weaknesses of a relationship is important after a few months of dating. You need to know how you deal with conflict together. You need to take a hard look at whether things are heading in a positive direction.

Do you feel like you can be yourself around each other? Can you talk honestly? What happens if you disagree?

Relationships all have their weak areas no matter how great they are. You want to know what they are and be able to discuss them together. If you know you both tend to shy away from conflict, figure out if that’s something you can work out together. If you argue a lot, think about why that is. One of you may have issues you need to work through, such as insecurity, or it might be an unfixable clash of personalities.

Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses will help you decide if there’s enough to build on long-term.

4. It’s based in reality.

Finding the one is not about waiting for some magical soul mate or astrologically-matched phenomenon. You can believe they’re the one all you like. You can check their horoscope and list every way you’re compatible, but if they’re giving you signs they’re not as interested in you — reality check: they aren’t the one.

If you’ve been dating a few months, take an honest look at your relationship. Are they not committing to you? Do they make excuses not to see you? Are they hot and cold, never talk about the future, or don’t introduce you to their friends and family? They’re saying loud and clear you aren’t the one.

People usually tell us the truth, if not with their words then with their actions. Listen. Be mindful of what’s actually going on.

5. It’s good for you.

Being with them makes you feel good. They make you smile. They lift you up and make you feel supported in your dreams and goals. They want the best for you and you want that for them too. Being with them leaves you feeling better, calmer, happier. You feel like a better person with them.

Danielle chose relationships that left her feeling drained. She fell into the role of “support person” where she ran around after them as a constant cheerleader, counselor, and well… anything they needed. She made every effort to keep them happy, but it wasn’t reciprocal. In her new relationship with Blake, they both put in effort. They make each other laugh and prioritize kindness. They’re friends first.

When deciding if this person is the one for you, be mindful of your feelings. Are they good for you?

6. You’re not relying on chemistry.

Often in dating we look for people we have a lot of chemistry with. But chemistry isn’t a reliable sign of a good relationship.

Danielle felt strong chemistry with a certain type of man. They were strong, confident, assertive, and masculine. Each time she felt this strong chemistry she was sure she’d found her hero. Each time they turned out to be villains instead. Danielle took a break from dating and invested a lot of work into herself. With the help of a therapist, she examined and healed the reasons she’d been attracted to dangerous men.

High chemistry can be a warning sign if you’ve had a pattern of being attracted to the wrong people. The people we feel excited by and attracted to aren’t always a good match for us.

Mindful dating means being aware that chemistry isn’t necessarily a sign of a good relationship.

Danielle and Blake have now been happily together for over 6 years. The work she put in to herself, the slow start, and the mindful dating paid off.

Dating isn’t a race. Take your time to carefully consider your relationship before you take it to the next level. Notice your feelings, thoughts, and what’s really happening when you’re with your partner. Use your head as well as your heart to make sure you’re seeing things clearly. You don’t want to live in a fantasy of what you wish your relationship was.

Slow down and make sure you’re seeing your partner and your relationship clearly. That’s what it means to mindfully choose them as “the one”.

Photo by miss_ty @Freepik.com

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For your uplifting local news. Bringing positivity back to the media. Viral online and magazine writer, bylines in Apple News Spotlight, Mamamia, Natural Parent, Thought Catalog and more.

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