Why Dating is a Path to Spiritual Enlightenment.

Via Rachel Scott
on Oct 26, 2012
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Photo courtesy of Flickr

It’s because of all the uncertainty. The rampant, horrible, delicious uncertainty.

After nearly nine years in the world of relationships, I have arrived on some incredibly fertile ground for spiritual evolution and self-development:


Just a few years shy of true cougarhood (insert sexy meow), this is the first time that I’ve had any real consciousness about “dating,” per se. In my twenties, relationships just sort of happened on the sidelines of my career pursuits. I’d wake from the heady, self-involved cloud of my ambition and notice the person beside me: “Oh, you’re here!” I’d say delightedly. “Marvelous!”

Then, in my thirties I became more serious about commitment, which led to a spectacular marriage failure that was almost Greek in its tragedy.

These relationships have been conduits for evolution and growth, no doubt. In a relationship, we have the opportunity to brush into our most tender places, confront our nastiest habits and—when we’re conscious—move beyond stale patterns and create new dynamics that better serve our vision for who we want to be.

Or perhaps we don’t, the relationship ends, and afterwards we smack our foreheads and say, “Oh. That’s what that was. Well. F*ck.”

But don’t despair, singletons. While relationships can be profound forums for self-work, dating is shaping up to be a pretty potent cauldron for spiritual fermentation.

It’s because of all the uncertainty. The rampant, horrible, delicious uncertainty.

Whenever we meet someone, some deep part of our psyche perks up and says, “I don’t know why, but this person that I just met is incredibly important and they could be the absolute key to my happiness and well-being for the rest of my life.” The endorphins kick in, the toes start to tingle and pretty soon we’ve imagined the relationship, the marriage, the kids and the divorce before the second date.

Because our mind is so uncomfortable existing in a state of uncertainty, it will restlessly ruminate and pick over the smallest scraps of information. Like:

Why did he text and not call?  or Why did he email and not text?  or Why did/didn’t he pay the bill? Arrrrrghhhh!, etc.

Or perhaps we’re on the other end of the spectrum and the self-protective part of the brain kicks in and puts a big Do Not Enter sign over our hearts. Being bruised before, we withdraw, shut down and lie in wait for someone who won’t feel quite as ‘dangerous.’ The uncertainty factor—not knowing if we can trust this new person—prompts us to find ways to undermine the relationship before it has even started.

Regardless of whichever end of the spectrum we find ourselves in or relate to, we can benefit from:

 Four Practices for Spiritual Dating:

1. Admit we don’t know.

In the ground between these two extremes lies an opportunity to rest in the uncertainty of the situation and come back to our deepest selves, where we can observe the exuberant chattering of the mind rather than trying to control the situation. (Yoga is the restraint of the fluctuations of the mind/Yogascittavrtti nirodhah from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras). When our mind starts telling stories, we can catch on, come back to the present moment and find an internal steadiness that can easily withstand the tempestuous winds of external uncertainty. 

2. Feel more. 

Dating can bring up some intense feelings. Use these sensations to become more deeply connected to yourself and the present moment—without attaching a story or narrative to them.

3. Practice courageous honesty.

As we become more centered, we can practice owning and articulating our own satya (truth). Whether that’s saying, “I really like you,” “This isn’t working for me,” or “I don’t know,” we can use this unusual landscape as an opportunity to practice being connected, brave and clear.

4. Trust.

Practicing honesty allows us to trust that everything is unfolding as it ought. Isvara pranidhana (surrender to God). To have a full understanding for the context that we are participating in, we must ride the waves-knowing that we can’t see the next one coming. We can either surf or fight the undertow. So take a deep breath, feel your body and dive in.

Ultimately, the water’s just fine.


A total nerd and generally cool chick, Rachel is the Director of Teachers’ College at YYoga, where she helps people to pursue their passion and potential. She manages her ongoing existential astonishment through relentless inquiry and a devilish sense of humour. www.rachelyoga.com




Editor: Jennifer Townsend

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About Rachel Scott

Rachel Scott is a Nerd. Artist. Educator. Relationship adventurer. Director of Teachers’ Development & College for YYoga. Manages ongoing existential astonishment with a devilish sense of humour. You can find her on her websiteFacebookTwitterVimeoLinkedIn and Instagram.


10 Responses to “Why Dating is a Path to Spiritual Enlightenment.”

  1. anonymous says:

    something in my brain perked up and said, 'the person who wrote this article, who has followed her passion in sharing art and yoga with so many others, could be the key to my happiness!"

  2. Out of my work with Radical Honesty I developed a list of reasons not to date me. At first it was just a top 10. Someone said “you should also have a top 10 list of reasons why you’re worth dating”. I thought about that but didn’t implement it. In most relationships people lead with their best and you get to find their baggage as the airlines show up to deliver it months or years later. I wanted to get it all out front. If there would be surprises later, then let them be the surprises of getting to know my good side.

    My list of 10 reasons not to date me became 17. I posted them on a dating site, leading with what I considered the most objectionable (herpes) so as to save people time reading the whole thing.

    I met someone I liked and I invited her to give me a list of reasons I shouldn’t date her. We talked about our lists and decided we didn’t have any deal breakers. Two years on now and we’ve moved across the country together and are having amazing adventures.

    I had a few other dates where I read my list of reasons. At one point I discovered a woman I was attracted to wasn’t suitable for me and I probably wouldn’t have learned it as quickly without reading my list. We had a great talk and became friends anyway.

    There’s something incredibly powerful about letting your shadow hang out, and being loved for it in return. A lot of people (maybe most) put their best face on in dating, and never know if they are really loved, or if it is only their nice guy/gal persona that is loved.

  3. shannon says:

    mike i admire your honesty..my initial thought when i started reading your post was – hmm, how would i have reacted reading your profile – would i think you tend focus on the negative vs the positive overall? then i continued reading.. and found my self thinking.. how refreshing the truth could be – not necessarily been shared in a negative light, not a love me if you dare/in spite of sort of way.. but more of a,…. here i am….. human, with all my faults laid out at your feet.. choose as you will if these are dealbreakers for you. nice…

  4. mich says:

    I love this article because it is so relatable. From wildly jumping to conclusions or shutting the door before it's even open, I have to say I've done both and feel overly worked up at either end of it. So thank you for the reminder that we can learn from the process.

  5. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Wonderful and dharmic article. So much of the buddhadharma also points to the uncertainty which is, in fact, most of our lives–even if we think we are secure. Anything can happen–accidents or auspicious connections that delight and derail our "plans". Seeing relationships as surprise keeps things delightful. Trying to project solidity onto the moment is usually earthquake, unless both individuals are envisioning the same future. I loved the article also for the great sense of humor–I actually laughed out loud! Bravo! So insightful!

  6. JulienneG says:

    Well said Rachel! #1 hits me right between the eyes (in a good way). I'll be linking it from my next article on the Saboteur archetype in dating cuz you nailed it in a big beautiful way. Thank you. Here is post on the hurt part of us in dating – let me know what you think: http://archetypist.com/2012/09/10/dating-survival

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  8. […] waste time in relationships with people who will never understand the beauty to be found in truly loving, trusting and living in partnership with another person. These people are at different places on their paths, or perhaps—let’s be honest—on totally […]

  9. Heather says:

    Love this!! Because it feels like I wrote it :)) Speaking your truth Rachel. Well done.

  10. Rachel says:

    Hi Julienne! I'm so sorry, I have literally just seen this! Thanks for kind words. Much belatedly, I love your article 🙂