“Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.”
Mindfulness master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us the simplest of truths. You just took a breath while reading that sentence. It passed without you noticing. Most of life passes without us noticing. We spend most of our time in the future and the past, yet the present is all that exists.
You didn’t come here for a lesson on mindfulness, although feel free to shave your head and move to Tibet if you feel so inspired.
Tinder and its ilk are very unmindful activities. We are always looking at the future – the next person to make us happy. Or, occasionally, the past in those awkward moments of seeing an ex online.
We chat, put on our best face, try to be funny, insightful, intelligent, fun, sensitive. We meet, do the same thing, and when that person isn’t perfect (and they never are) wonder who will show up next.
Breathing in, I am swiping right.
After ending a long relationship, it took me a while to work out what I wanted. To be blunt, I went on a date with any woman who seemed remotely eligible, just to see what worked for me. I learnt if your life revolves around Master Chef and drinking wine – and I was shocked how many women’s lives do – I’ll pass.
This set a bad pattern for me. Like many single people these days, dates became disposable. I was ideally after a serious relationship, but almost no first date can stand up to the scrutiny of “do I want to spend the next 20+ years with you?” I was too focussed on the future, at the expense of the present. The real irony? It was also at the expense of the future – focussing on an idealised future kept me from reaching it.
What I was really doing was living in the future, always hoping for something better. The jackpot never comes. But it might…
Breathing out, I am swiping left.
And the Record Goes To……
While my dating patterns haven’t been ideal, I have a friend, Debra who makes me look like a monk. The Guinness Book of Records needs to enter her for “Most Online Dates” – over 100 in a 3 month period. None of the 100 eventuated. She’s a lovely girl, smart, fun, engaging, and not hard on the eye. Logistics aside (how the hell do you have over 100 dates in 90 days? Apparently, up to 3 a day), there’s something wrong there. After 100 dates, not meeting someone worth at least a few months of your time seems very unlikely. Even now, she’s started seeing someone…. but not quite managed to delete Tinder off her phone.
The addiction from gambling isn’t from winning. It’s from the chance of winning. The next swipe might just be the person of your dreams. Just maybe. The dopamine rush of maybe meeting Mr or Ms Right is powerful. But it keeps us from living in the present. From looking at those who are in front of us, right here and right now, and seeing how we can make that work. Of living in the present moment.
Tinder and its ilk have a tendency to make us live in the future. That’s a dangerous thing. I’m sure somewhere in those 100+ people Debra saw, there must have been at least 2 or 3 worth some more of her time. But her relentless focus on the next person – swiping right to the perfect person – kept her from finding him. And it also kept him from finding her. If you think about it that way, disposable dating is really an anti-love story. Never giving someone the chance to be the special one. Not sure we’ll be seeing Tinder in any Disney movies any time soon.
The Year in Review – Dating Style
I sat down one day and reviewed every women I’d met in the last year. Those who hadn’t wanted to continue seeing me, that’s life. Those which I had decided not to see again, I asked myself, why? Did I make the right decision or was I placing too much pressure on my expectations of them? Was I over thinking the future or were there genuine reasons?
Since I’ve been through this process, I’ve changed. When I meet someone, I now ask: am I enjoying her company? Is this a positive experience? If the answer is yes, then I ask to see her again. Maybe we’ll end up together, maybe not, but I can enjoy the moment, and give her a chance to grow on me, to give a chance for those special moments that make me realise she’s the one.
I had a few dates recently with a girl who was lovely. Smart, creative, attractive and great fun to spend time with. Ok, and an above average kisser. There were some fundamental life goals we weren’t aligned on, she likely wasn’t Ms Right. But who knows? It didn’t go anywhere, but I had a few lovely dinners with her, we helped each other out on our journey a little, and both left as, hopefully, better people.
That was a positive and more mindful interaction. So, now instead of looking for Ms Right, I’m looking for Ms Right Now. Someone I can have a pleasant time with in the Now, the moment, and see how things progress. It’s changed my dating, I think, for the better.
Story by MB
Image via Aaron Burden