We all know that dating (like life) is full of ups, downs and rejection. My first book, Dating from the Inside Out, teaches singles to view dating as a spiritual journey. For this article, I thought it would be fun to apply some Zen Buddhist principles to the art of becoming a peaceful date. So, here are 10 of these principles as they apply to Zen dating!
1. Be Present: Don’t get ahead of yourself by thinking about whether you’ll get to the third date with someone. Just enjoy the moment and have fun the first few months. Be here now.
2. Accept What Is: Often when we see a date’s potential we overlook other red flags in the hope that we will change that person. We want them to be who we imagine they are. To be a Zen dater you must accept things as they are and learn to work with what is.
3. Learn from Suffering: When you notice that you are picking the same partner again and again (even if the package looks different) it’s an opportunity to learn about your unconscious dating pattern. You may be picking unavailable men or men who are overly critical. Learn your pattern to discover how you sabotage yourself and maintain your suffering through unconscious dating. You can do this by completing the exercises in my first book, Dating from the Inside Out.
4. Say, ‘Ah So,’ and Look for the Gift: There are many Zen Koans where seemingly terrible things happen to Zen Masters (like one where he’s falsely accused or his donkey dies) and the Zen Master just says, ‘Ah So.’ In the end, his centered and nonreactive approach pays off and all is well. In the meantime, he is not riled up by outer circumstances. So, the next time a date stands you up or isn’t your cup of tea, just say, ‘Ah So.’ In the bigger scheme of things it may turn out for the best.
5. Be Comfortable with Silence & Yourself: Don’t feel like you need to entertain your date to be specially interesting. Be comfortable in your own skin and like yourself enough, no matter what others do or say. You can practice meditation before your date to connect with your authentic true self so you can just ‘be’ on dates.
6. Don’t Be Attached to the Results: Dating is full of ups and downs. You can show up and be yourself but you can’t control who calls you back or whether it ends up in a relationship. Learn to go with the flow so you’ll be happy on a daily basis regardless of outcomes. This will make you more secure and attractive.
7. Lead a Balanced Life: When you start dating, you may like someone a lot and this can throw you off balance. You may want to spend every minute with him or be tempted to sit by the phone until he calls. Resist this notion. Continue your life, including time for friends, work, self-care, family etcetera. This will ground you so this new person can fit into your existing, full life. If it works out, this will be a spiritual relationship and if not, at least you’ve got those other things already going for you!
8. Practice Non-Judgment: One of the reasons that people hate dating is because it’s full of judgment. Resolve to love yourself as you are and to embrace others that way too. You may not be a match but you don’t waste your time and energy on judgment. Love attracts love so look at the energy you are being as a spiritual practice.
9. Have Compassion: Buddhists talk about not killing a bug because we are all connected. Resolve to be attuned to others pain and to be compassionate. Everyone has their own circumstances and story that make them the way they are. You are responsible for your dating karma so be kind. Even if you don’t want to continue dating them, give others the benefit of the doubt and wish them well.
10. Be Patient: Good things come to those who wait. Don’t expect to find your true love right away (even though it would be nice)! Slow down and do your due diligence by dating and showing up. It’s like, ‘Wax on, wax off.’ Eventually your effort will pay off. Trust in divine timing.
If you follow these principles, you can view dating as a spiritual path and this context will probably cause you less suffering and grant you more peace and joy.
I wish you the Best in Love,