If you’ve never heard the term conscious dating before, let me explain—at its core, being conscious is about being aware, awake, and mindful. Unfortunately, when it comes dating, so many singles can be unaware, asleep, and thoughtless.
I call this unconscious dating—dating while being unaware of the positive dating habits and necessary relationship skills that can help you find and form a healthy relationship. Many unconscious daters date in a way that’s no better than trying to find love by throwing darts at a dartboard. Sure, some of them may hit a bullseye and actually find everlasting love, but the majority of people are throwing a lot of darts and putting a lot of holes in the wall.
We go to school to learn how to read, write, and do math (heck, we even have wood shop), but so few of us are ever taught anything about creating relationships with others. Even our parents, who often have such a large role in shaping our relationships, fail miserably at showing us the way to relate and connect with other human beings.
I will admit, I wasn’t always a conscious dater and I struggled with finding love. That being said, I did the work, learned how to develop dating skills, and today I’m a happily married woman.
If you’d like to learn from my mistakes and successes, and find a lasting love that you not only want, but deserve, here are five ways you can date more consciously:
1. Know Your Non-Negotiables
The key to a great relationship starts with clarity. That’s why knowing your non-negotiables is so important.
Non-negotiables are basically your dating deal-breakers, but they’re not surface-level things like, “He’s too tall,” or “She can’t be older than 30.” Rather, they’re core values such as, “He makes me a priority,” or “She’s family-oriented.”
And because they’re core values, not just traits or standards, they have to be met in any romantic relationship you enter into or that relationship will fail every time. If even one of your non-negotiables isn’t met, chances are your relationship won’t work in the long term. Why? Because you would be settling and missing something important that you require in that relationship to make you happy and secure. They’re just that powerful.
But the great thing about non-negotiables is that once you’re armed with your list (most people have about 10–15 non-negotiables), you gain so much confidence when it comes to assessing possible partners. You’ll have the ability to screen prospective dates, and know that you’re making the right decision for both of you to move forward or back off. As a result, you’ll be more intentional about your dating and stop second guessing your choices.
2. Communicate Your Non-negotiables at the Right Time
In the early stages of dating, the last thing you want to do is rattle off a long list of your non-negotiables and make your date uncomfortable. (A date shouldn’t feel like an interrogation.) Instead, it should be a time that you connect in a deeper way with your date.
Focus on the art of conversation. It should be free flowing, casual, and fun. Then sprinkle in some questions about your non-negotiables. Ask open-ended questions, hear their thoughts, and share some of yours. The key is to find out if your non-negotiables match with theirs. I usually recommend discussing about one or two of them each time you meet.
3. Be Your Best Self, Not Just Yourself
Have you ever received dating advice from someone where they told you to just be yourself? (UGH!) Sorry, I don’t believe this advice. In fact, I would argue more people are single because they decide to just be themselves instead of being their best selves. For over a decade, I was “being myself” and you know what it got me? A truckload of dating misery.
No, the best advice this relationship coach and woman-of-a-certain-age can give you is to be your best self. That means starting today, you should look in the mirror and say whatever you’re doing when it comes to dating may not be working because being yourself is just not cutting it.
So how do you become your best self? You need to do the work, study and learn important relationship skills, and look deep into your soul to find the drive to change things for the better. That’s what conscious dating is all about.
Let’s be clear—If you honestly look at yourself in this way, you may not always like what you see. But, I promise you, when you come out on the other side you won’t be disappointed.
4. Avoid the Blame Game.
I want to start this point, by asking you to think of three reasons why you’re single. Ready, go!
Ok, let me guess. You came up with things like men/women are jerks, all the good ones are taken, or I’m too… (insert old, overweight, shy, etc.)? Whatever reasons you came up with, I’m here to tell you that when you’re consciously dating, you take ownership of who you are and the world you’re in.
Being conscious means you don’t blame the situation. Instead, you accept that you’re not perfect and you’re accountable for the fact that you may not know everything there is to know about dating and relationships. The moment you stop blaming others for your place in life, more good opportunities will come your way. It’s truly liberating.
5. Lean into Discomfort.
Before I met my husband (on a dating site, by the way) I had a fairly limited idea of the type of man I should date. He had to be at least six feet tall, a max of four years older than me, have a good job, a degree, no drama, amazing chemistry, and oh yeah… be really fun.
It was a fairly solid list but, looking back, being so specific made me choose some bad candidates and lose some quality ones too. Then, after a bad breakup, I began to expand my search criteria by letting in many more types of men that didn’t fit the idea I had in my head of who I’d be good with. If I was going to find love it was the values of the man that mattered most, not the five to seven extra inches in height or the 10 to 20 extra pounds.
This meant I was open to dating men who were 5’6” and above, and expanded my age preference to up to 10 years older than me. Once I did this, a funny thing happened. Within literally months, I met my husband. For you, maybe getting out of your comfort zone involves going out with a different body type or ethnicity, or maybe it’s just signing up for a new type of dating app.
Whatever it is you’re willing to do that pushes you from today’s funk to tomorrow’s enthusiasm is a good thing. And not only because it can change your dating life, it can change your whole life.
Amie is a certified Master Relationship Coach and published author. Her mission is to help singles find lasting love by conscious dating. Her dedication has led Amie to be named one of LA’s “Best Dating Coaches” by DatingAdvice.com. Amie has been featured in a variety of media outlets including the CBS Network, Fox 5 News, People Entertainment Weekly, HelloGiggles TV, ATTN:, LiveStrong, and Martha Stewart Weddings. She invites you to grab her FREE copy of “5 Dating Traps” now!