The New Year is a great time to slow down and become more mindful and intentional.
Father Mike Schmitz recently had a homily about the power of intention. In it, he discusses the Blessed Mother as a model for how we should act, especially regarding her contemplation and discernment. In the book of Luke, St. Luke explains that after the shepherds come to the Holy Family and tell them what they have heard and seen, it had been imprinted on her heart and she spent the rest of her life contemplating on this miracle.
Father Mike goes on to explain about the power of living mindfully and fully recognizing the present moment, as the Blessed Mother did. Otherwise, we may fall into temptation to live reflexively and not reflectively – moving on to the next event, not truly living, but just existing through life.
Through becoming more intentional and mindful, pondering and contemplating our experiences, we can fully appreciate and embrace the lesson before moving forward. Maybe it’s a new experience that we had, or a difficult lesson that we had to learn, or even a joyful occasion- if we stop and reflect on the meaning behind it, we can receive God’s message more fully as He calls us forward to another experience, and then another. What is He trying to teach you?
How can we apply this to dating and single life?
Oftentimes it is easy to move through the dating process, one date after another, without fully recognizing the lesson being taught to us. It is imperative to stop and reflect on the lesson before moving forward, so we can consciously move in a different direction if we need to. For example, maybe you are choosing the same kind of person to date repeatedly and it never seems to work out. By stopping and reflecting on each date, you are able to receive the message and move in another direction more intentionally, such as choosing to move forward and dating someone different.
This is particularly important for choosing the right partner. Without giving prayer, space, and reflection around making this decision, you could completely miss out on meeting him/her because you are lost in the moment. Or, you could choose someone who isn’t right for you because you haven’t fully discerned.
Inviting God to be part of the decision will give you the peace and clarity to move forward in the right direction, confidently. Through the Intentional Dating Process, you can move thoughtfully towards your perfect match.
#1. Intentional Listening
The most important part of communication is listening. Try not to evaluate or calculate what is happening in the conversation while you are in the conversation (this includes judging yourself or judging the other person: ie, would this person be a good match for me?)
Try to stay present during the entire conversation and avoid becoming distracted. This will help you stay focused, help you retain information and avoid the temptation to begin talking about serious topics and talking impulsively out of nervous energy. Intentionally listening will help you to enjoy the conversation more, as well as giving off a more peaceful, confident, and attractive energy.
Most of all, this will help you discern in the present moment, if your date is the right fit for you. God is only in the present moment and he might be trying to enlighten you or call your attention to something important during the date, so pay attention!
It is normal to feel nervous during a date so below are a few tips to help you feel calm and at ease so that you are able to intentionally listen and remain in the present moment, being fully grounded.
-Take three deep breaths before or during the conversation
-Try to focus on the present moment by counting in odd numbers 1, 4, 7 (this makes you concentrate more)
-Keep your feet planted on the floor
-Focus on your 5 senses
-Focus on inhaling and exhaling your breath during the entire conversation
-Pause before you speak
#2. Reflecting with Intention
Reflecting with intention will help clarify the dating process for you and empower you to make the best decisions for yourself. Be flexible but honest with yourself at the same time. Keep your heart, mind, and eyes wide open.
Below are a few questions to reflect on as you begin reflecting with intention.
- How do you want to feel when you are around them?
- How do they actually make you feel?
- Do they make your life better or worse?
- Do they make you closer to God?
- Notice their energy and actions. How do their actions affect others?
I also recommend taking notes after every date to give you a deeper reflection regarding who you are choosing to date, how they are making you feel, what is going well on the dates and what is not going so well on the dates. This will give you an introspective view into some of your dating patterns while encouraging you to make wiser decisions regarding what you truly need in a partner.
#3. Asking Intentional Questions
When it comes to Intentional Dating, it is crucial to understand yourself, and what you deeply desire and need in another person. This will help you to become your best, freest, and truest self while you are with him/her, strengthening your relationship and allowing for emotional intimacy to take form. This will also help you to choose the right spouse and prepare you for creating a joyful marriage and family life.
As you date, you should actively evaluate whether or not the person has those specific qualities that you are searching for.
For example: If you need to be with a man or woman who is non judgmental and accepting, you might want to evaluate and reflect over these questions: Are they asking you intrusive questions? Do they criticize you? Do they allow the past /present to be as is? Are they judgmental or critical toward others?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions to find out if they have the specific virtues you are looking for. Open ended questions are a great way to add substance in your conversation. Asking no more than 2-3 questions a date will help you to balance getting to know them while enjoying the conversation and having fun on your date.
This is an “unraveling” of the person. As you progress in your relationships, with time and patience, you can ask more in-depth questions to learn more about them and whether or not they are the right fit for you.
Observe. Observe. Observe.
Be patient, this is a process of getting to know the person in front of you. Don’t rush the process, it is not an interview and shouldn’t feel like one either.
Pray for direction and open your heart and mind to the Holy Spirit as you follow the process.
#4. Discerning with Intention
Below are some tips to invite God into this space to give you the peace and clarity you need to make the best decision for your relationship and future self.
-Pray over your feelings. St. Ignatius believed that the emotions of your heart often leads us to the path we are supposed to follow. Of course- this should be a balance of both logic and emotion.
-Journal. This is a great way to process your thoughts and emotions.
-Meditate. Attend adoration or say a prayer before hand and listen to the Holy Spirit and how He is guiding you.
-Contemplative prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you follow the right path.
Rest assured, if he/she is the right person, it will be easy, peaceful, and aligned to your deepest needs. In the mean time, Intentional Dating will empower you to make the most of your relationships while discerning God’s will for your life.