A minimalist is someone who rids himself of unessential possessions in order to live a simple life. Proponents say living with less has allowed them to live more. The theory goes that by decluttering your environment, you declutter your mind, allowing space for the things that really matter in life – like moments, experiences, and relationships. The end result is more joy, productivity, and mental clarity. As a minimalist myself, I have to agree.
I started thinking, how can we apply minimalism to dating, and how would it be beneficial? In a world where dating is considered complicated, can we make it simple?
Consider the following five ways to simplify your dating life.
Date Like A Minimalist
Focus on only one person
The paradox of choice creates a real sense of anxiety for people looking to find a long-term partner. Many try to solve this problem by dating as many people as possible, as to not miss out on the chance of meeting “The One.” There’s two issues with this approach. First, the idea of finding “The One” is problematic in dating. The expectation that one person can satisfy our emotional, physical, and spiritual needs is unrealistic. Second, an overabundance of options can actually lead to anxiety, indecision, and dissatisfaction.
Maybe we can simplify our approach. Focus on dating one person at a time, and when we are dating this person, remove the added pressure that he or she has to tick all the boxes. Instead, focus on a person with whom we can imagine ourselves writing a story that entails edits and revisions. Remember, there are no perfect stories.
Achieve mental clarity
We have all been guilty of overanalyzing comments and situations in our relationships. Unfortunately, this only leads to creating stories not based on reality. These stories lead to doubt and confusion, and, without clear communication, awkwardness and ultimately relationship failure.
It’s easy to let the human mind wander into different scenarios for why he or she hasn’t called, or the hidden meaning behind a certain comment. If left uncontrolled, these thoughts can run on repeat in a mental playback loop. It’s a viscous cycle.
The key is to have a strategy for breaking the cycle. One way is to distract yourself from having these thoughts. Come up with 5 simple distraction techniques. Things that can be done quickly and easily, such as reading a book, calling a friend, or going for a walk. This technique allows you to redirect useless energy into something productive. This way, the next time you see your date, you will be in a positive mindset (rather than full of self-doubt and worry). If there is cause for concern, the reasonable action is to communicate, which is our next tip.
Clear, simple communication
Set a good example in the beginning of a relationship by having clear and direct communication. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and assume they do the same when they communicate.
Don’t misconstrue words to create a story just because you have hidden doubts and fears. When you possess this frame of mind, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary headaches. For example, I had a friend call me frantically, saying she regretted texting a guy she was dating. She proceeded to read me the conversation:
My friend: “Hey, how are you?”
Her date: “Hey, I’m sorry I can’t talk right now. I have to wake up really early tomorrow.”
She was devastated by his short reply and took it as a sign of disinterest. Before she could go any further, I asked, “Did you ever think that he really did have to wake up early and couldn’t stay awake texting all night? I’m sure he’ll text you tomorrow.” Sure enough, she called me saying how he responded the next day with an apologetic, “Hey, I'm so sorry I couldn’t talk last night. How are you?” They continued dating for months. The moral of this simple story is, don’t assume a certain comment or action means something, unless you have actual evidence.
Take your time
The speed and momentum in which a relationship grows is vital to its success. Personality, openness, communication, and time spent together are vital components to how quickly the relationship develops. For example, if both people are introverted and less communicative, the relationship may mature slowly. And that’s okay.
Singles have a tendency to allow thoughts to jump ahead of the maturity of the relationship. The last thing you want to do is add too much pressure and have the relationship collapse before it is strong enough to hold that pressure. In most cases, there is your perception of the relationship and then there is the reality of the relationship. Remember to frequently give yourself a reality check to make sure your viewpoint is in line with the relationship itself. If you're getting ahead of yourself, take a step back and redirect your focus.
Adapt a simple approach to handling disagreements
As the relationship progresses, there will be disagreements. Don’t allow little speed bumps to inhibit the growth of your relationship – view them as an opportunity to add depth. How you handle disagreements will be an excellent indicator of how the two of you will handle future hardships.
Adapt a simple approach to handling conflict Discuss only the topic at hand (all other issues are off limits) and use clear, simple communication. Allow each party to speak while the other respectfully listens with full attention.
Arguments normally occur because one person believes he or she isn’t receiving the care or respect he or she deserves. Ensure your partner you understand his or her viewpoint, and you are 100% dedicated to improving. Ideally, both partners should always be checking-in with each other to see how he or she can improve for the overall health of the relationship.
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