January 18, 2015

When Dating is a Bore: 4 Ways to Make Dating Fun & the Neuroscience Behind It.

Dating is fun

Dating is supposed to be fun!

Meeting up with someone new, going to a cool spot, seeing if we click, maybe finding love. It sounds awesome (cue cartoon “wah-wah” sound here).

So, why isn’t it?

According to our research, the top reasons are:

  • Confusion and worry about what dating means and how our date perceives us
  • Anxiety about needing to find a soulmate
  • Relying on meeting people online
  • Taking it too seriously

Modern dating is often accompanied by feeling too “in the head,” a signifier that our left brain and ego are highly activated. The embodied, present and expansive part of ourselves becomes hijacked by our inner critic. We become worried, judgmental, people-pleasing, rushed, overwhelmed and without the love we seek.

Neuro-amorology is the term we use to describe the art and science of evolved dating. The processes below are based on this concept. Each was inspired by the latest research in neuroscience and psychology combined with timeless spiritual principles and dating practicalities. We think of them as an exploration rather than yet another to-do list for love, so edit them based on what works for you.

1. Get out of your head.

In other words, care about how you feel instead of worrying about how you or others conceptualize dating. If you’re totally clear on what you want from your dating life, go with that. But if thinking about what you want causes confusion or stress, then let it go. Many of our clients say they find themselves trying to mind-read potential partners or worrying about mainstream dating “rules.” Most of the time, mind-reading and worrying distracts us from our own experience.

Worry thoughts engage the sympathetic nervous system and put us in fight-or-flight mode. In this state, our minds mobilize us for survival rather than facilitate enjoyment of the moment. When all that energy is balled up in a relatively still body on a date, it feels overwhelming. Being more deliberate about noticing how we feel while dating—and maybe even intending to feel fun—encourages the growth of neural pathways that associate present moment connection with the feeling of fun. In neuroscience, what wires together fires together. And in love, what we feel will be reflected by the other person.

Try this: Use your imagination to change your experience of dating. Imagine what fun looks like. What’s the energy of fun? What does your body move like when things are fun? What sensations let you know that something’s fun? How are you speaking? What are you doing? Get all the details you can about fun-ness. Set a timer for 60 seconds and go through this imaginative process right before your next date. When old thought patterns sneak in during the date (like, “What does it mean that I’m on a date with this person?”), use them as an indicator to re-invoke that new thought pattern to bring fun back into the present moment.

2. Abandon your soulmate goal.

By focusing all our attention on finding a soulmate, we’re often more focused on the lack thereof. Focusing on what we don’t have just attracts more feelings of lack: what we pay attention to grows. If we’re on a date and fixated on the ways the person across from us is not our soulmate, half our attention will be in the present moment and half will be devising how we can slither out the door unnoticed.

Try this: Focus right now on the parts of your life that feel full and lush with love. Do you have a friend, family member or pet that naturally enlivens unconditional love in your body? Visualize that someone, and feel the specifics of that love. Remember what it’s like to feel completely free to be yourself. Focus on any sensations or ways the love in that relationship makes you want to move in your body. Do you feel light? Fun? Relaxed? Set a timer for 60 seconds and meditate with those feelings as your anchor. When your mind wanders, nudge your attention back to that feeling of love. Practice this right before or even during your next date.

3. Connect with people in the flesh.

We’re all out-and-about in the midst of other breathing humans at some point each day.  When we reframe those moments as opportunities to connect, we attract more love into our lives.

Two realities about online dating: Most messages are sent and received with no in-person contact; and, meeting someone face-to-face can leave us with a completely different impression than the virtual one. There’s no amount of online contact that can replace physical contact. While eHarmony et al are awesome resources, when we add the in-person component, we up our chances of finding lasting love.

Moreover, intentionally connecting live-in-the- moment can establish neural pathways so strongly that it becomes a natural skill that gets easier and easier with practice.

Try this: Make a point to connect with someone you experience in real life. If you’re going to the grocery store and the only interaction you have is a mindless, “Hi, how are you? Good. Thanks,” with the cashier, you could be missing out. Even if you speak with someone who is emotionally unavailable, at least you’re practicing love and actively welcoming it into your life. Just watch what comes your way.

4. Make fun of yourself and others.

When we act super seriously, judgment and closed off-ness often follow. Seriousness has a heavy, rigid energy. And, most of the time, it’s unneeded!

Our first step is recognizing when we’re being unnecessarily serious. Our second step is recognizing what there is to be light about. This takes the practice of being in the here-and-now. And then when we laugh, our brain produces dopamine, which makes us feel good and want more of whatever’s causing it.

Try this: On your next date, notice when one of your quirks leaks out. Call yourself on it. Usually this will bring some laughter, which can relax the “gotta impress” interview feeling. It can also remind your date that he/she is allowed to have quirks, too. We promise, the nuances that make you you are totally lovable, memorable and real. Give ‘em some air time, and you and your date will reap the benefits.

With each of these processes: practice makes progress. We’ve spent years grooving our present neural pathways. As we make changes, it will take time to groove new ones. As spiritual beings having human experiences, we’re all just in time to be and feel however we choose.

Why not choose fun right now?


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Author: Kendra Seoane and Chris DeCicco

Apprentice Editor: Caroline Beaton / Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Flickr 

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Kendra Seoane and Chris DeCicco