Posted By: Kelly Seal Date: 03-26-2019 Comments: 0
The word “dating” can conjure up mixed emotions. Meeting someone you find attractive is exciting, but it can be equally disappointing if he tends to cancel plans at the last minute, or if he doesn’t live up to your expectations as you get to know him. Dating apps have complicated things, too. Bad behavior is pervasive, so we spend more time protecting ourselves from getting hurt rather than opening up and connecting.
When I talk to people who use dating apps, the terms ghosting and breadcrumbing come up a lot. Ghosting is the sudden, unexplained disappearance of someone you’ve been seeing or messaging. Maybe you had a growing connection, so it feels heart-wrenching like a break-up. In the case of breadcrumbing, your love interest pops up from time to time, hinting that he’d like to see you again but never actually follows through.
It’s hard not to get frustrated when people don’t treat us with respect, consideration or kindness. Sometimes it feels scary to try and connect with anyone, because people have become so disengaged and dismissive of others’ feelings. No harm, no foul – right?
What we seem to have forgotten is the art of compassion in dating.
Dating with compassion is crucial to building trust and connection. But we have become so accustomed to bad behavior that it’s easy to slip into it ourselves – maybe without realizing it. Can you honestly say you’ve never ghosted someone? Have you ever strung someone along as a Plan B, waiting for a better opportunity to present itself? Could you have been nicer to a date when you didn’t feel instant chemistry?
We are quick to judge our dates without thinking of the significant part we play in each of our interactions. It’s hard to admit that we might be behaving badly too.
Instead of feeling discouraged or dismissive of dating, let’s reframe the conversation. If you choose to treat your dates with more kindness, more compassion, you might find that behavior returned. The energy you put out is often the energy you start receiving. When you practice dating with compassion, you’ll change your experience, which means you’ll have a better time dating. And you’re more likely to meet people you connect with on a deeper level.
How to master the art of compassion in dating
Keep an open mind. This phrase has become a cliché, but in dating, it’s crucial. If you have a preconceived notion of your date, or if you judge him immediately based on what he’s wearing, the first thing he says, or the fact that you are frazzled from your work day, you’ll lose an opportunity. The best and kindest thing you can do for yourself and your date is to approach it with fresh eyes, and make NO assumptions. If you feel judged, you won’t connect, and it’s the same for your date. Give him/her the space to open up and be himself. Listen, and be curious about his thoughts, his perspective. This allows you both to relax and engage freely, and increases the potential to connect.
Think beyond chemistry. Chemistry doesn’t equal longevity in relationships – we’ve said this before – but far too often we make it the litmus test of whether or not we should go on a second date. Also, most of us have lists of what we desire in a partner, so if a date doesn’t meet those conditions, we don’t consider the relationship potential. This is a mistake. It’s impossible to know someone after only one date, so why dismiss them so quickly? It takes time to see if there’s potential. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and see whether you are more engaged, more attentive, more present.
Avoid trashing your dates with friends. I know it’s tempting to call your friends and complain, especially if you’ve been on a date with a jerk. There will be dates who ghost, who disappear, who stand you up, or who are just generally miserable people. There will also be dates that don’t look like their photos, have annoying quirks, or who bore you to tears. Instead of playing the blame game or making fun of your date with your group of friends, hold some compassion in your heart. Think of how you want to be treated. Does it ultimately make you feel better to complain, or could your time and energy be better spent doing something you love? Think of how differently you would feel cultivating more forgiveness not only for your dates, but for yourself. Instead of wasting energy on bashing, focus your time and attention on moving forward, nurturing yourself, and spending time on things that bring joy.
Realize your own weaknesses and limitations. It’s hard to scrutinize ourselves when we date, but this is necessary for our personal growth. Start by asking yourself questions. Have you ghosted someone, or been rude to a date, or perhaps didn’t care enough to text that you were running late? These are all behaviors that contribute to the lack of compassion in dating. Instead of trying to change others, the only person we have true control over is ourselves, so why not see where you might be making mistakes and try to do better? Make your experience with dating less stressful and more enjoyable by avoiding bad behaviors and cultivating more compassion for others.
When you focus on improving your own behavior and attitude, others will respond. When you master the art of compassion in dating, you will see how it transforms your experience.
Kelly Seal is a freelance writer, dating expert, and author of the book “Date Expectations: A Guide to Changing Your Dating Life and Finding Real Love.” She got her start in the dating industry by hosting speed dating events around southern California and offering advice and encouragement to attendees. She now lives in L.A. and spends her free time hiking in the Santa Monica mountains and blogging at www.kellyseal.com.