Mindfulness: Awareness turned inward toward present felt experience. (Psychology Today)
Mindlessness: An inactive state of mind that is characterized by reliance on distinctions drawn in the past. (Psychology)
Mindless Dating: To pursue a romantic relationship without having any clue what your intentions are.
I shamelessly admit: I love love.
Don’t get me wrong - I also love embracing my independence as a single twenty-something woman in LA, but I just as deeply crave intimacy, security, comfort, and sex.
With dating apps like Bumble and Hinge (my most recent home screen add-ons), endless and seemingly meaningless relationships present themselves, sending single folk into a vortex of first dates. You start to dread the “so what do you do?”-type questions and try to remind yourself why the h*ll you’re doing it anyways!
But the thing is, we all probably have a similar why — unless you just broke up with your boyfriend of 8 years and are shoving some-guy-Stephen’s face into your chest at 1OAK… nothing like a motorboat to get you moving forward - get it gurl. Anyways, we walk into the most impressively casual Yelp-found bar with a glimmer of hope that this will be the one, and although our minds remind us that the odds are slim, we feel the risk is always worth taking.
I flirt, swipe, and “❤” people too often for comfort. But the real uneasiness sets in when I consider people who I typically wouldn’t and mold them into a picture I didn’t envision in the first place! It goes something like “Eh, he didn’t make me laugh much and the date was whatever, but we held a conversation - that’s good, right?” Not feeling that spark and natural energy, but pushing forward anyway, has stumbled me into short-term relationships that repeatedly teach me what I already know: you can’t force this.
So there I was at my dinner table last Thursday, passing and liking people based on 5 meh-quality pictures, 3 poorly thought-out sentences, and our location distances. I was expending valuable energy on something that… felt kinda useless. Studies and leaders have proven that limiting the amount of decisions you make helps avoid “decision fatigue”… yet, as mindlessly as I scroll through my Insta-feed, I was considering person, after person, after person, and again. By the time my roommate had gone and come back from brushing her teeth, I had tapped through all the following fellas:
Alex, Jr, Jonathan, Ry, Tuong, Jake (❤), Flaviu, Chandler, Blake, Brendan (❤), Tanner, Larken, Danny (❤), Joel, Bashir, Hank, Andrew, Tim, Aaron, Zachary, Zack, Noah, Andrew, Eli (❤ because he mentioned frozen grapes and I love talking about fruit), Sandy, Wesley, Michael, Robbie, Alex, Alex, Billy, Steven, Ryan, James, Stratton.
When I reopened Hinge the next evening (Friday), I had gotten 6 responses including a couple from a previous batch of men I’d tapped through. They each went through another round of judgment, and I ultimately responded to one. One. Did I really just dedicate that time to Hinge, only to slim everything down to one candidate? Should I have used that energy to read a freakin’ book instead? Where was my brain? And even if I had responded to more than one, my Bumble era taught me that juggling conversations between the firefighter, strategist, and financial analyst leaves me feeling miffed too.
So I met up with the winner that same evening. We’ll call him John. I appreciated how he asked me to meet him somewhere first thing instead of forcing a conversation over messages. Have you ever tried to get to know someone like that? Brutal! Half of loving someone is seeing them and feeling their energy (and yep — sometimes body). The only info you gather from an online chit-chat is if they have good or s… grammar.
John, who I’d learned through his profile was an actor, competitive and playfully sarcastic, invited me to a bar up in North Hollywood — an unintentionally LA date. Truth be told, he ended up being an amazing soul with a sweet smile and genuine demeanor. We played Connect 4, danced through crowds, sat to chat… and then he asked… what are you looking for on Hinge?
What am I looking for? I ended a relationship 2 months ago, and I certainly don’t want to date anyone right now. Perhaps we go on these dates because we try to appease our desire to meet the one. We seek fire, passion, that start-of-a-relationship obsession. That giddiness where friends at work comment on your extra pep and goofy smile… ‘cause that feels freaking great.
Yeah, I want that. So I date mindlessly in the process, placing myself into the start of an unlikely pattern time and time again, in hopes of getting an imagined result. Here’s the thought process:
Meet someone > Get to know each other > Fall deep > Fall in love > Have a lifelong partner, supporter, kids, and security.
While this pattern has a million different variations, it’s sort of the same result. Love.
We love love. And this whole dating thing will forever be an imperfect process, no matter how it’s discovered, experienced, enjoyed and hated.
So as a twenty-something single LA-localite / extreme non-professional, here are my thoughts:
Be Considerate. Dating typically involves another person’s emotions in addition to yours. Be transparent if you don’t want to go on the second date instead of ghosting them and/or leading them on. It may be uncomfortable for you, but odds are, they’ll appreciate it, and you’ll be stoked you sent the message.
Feel Free to Say No. If you didn’t feel that coffee meetup very much, but she/he is already reaching out for a hike-hangout, know you’re able to kindly decline the invitation. There’s no need to expend anyone’s energy on something that’s already shaky. Here’s a message, all yours for the taking: “Hey John! Sorry about the late response. So after some thought, I’d really like to keep us at friend level. I had a reeeally really good time with you nonetheless and am stoked to have shared a few drinks with you.” Boom.
Enjoy the Experience. This is a ride we’re able to enjoy — so let’s! As long as we aren’t hurting others or ourselves in the process, enjoy the waves of the single life. While sometimes I get annoyed at the mindless flings, I find pleasure in them. And at this point in my young life, I’m doing what feels right.
So yep, ride the waves… if you want. Remember: pleasure. Nothing less. If you find your date to be a drag, don’t hang out with her/him. If you find your true lover, then major freaking win. You have my full support to embrace this crazy life either way.