A mindful approach to dating is very different from the hook up culture model where as long as there is some chemistry in the beginning, you give the person a shot until it ceases to be fun, and then you simply move on to the next adventure.  Conscious dating involves the following steps:

1. A self exploration process– This is where you look at past patterns and identify those negative behaviors you want to break.  Kick those bad habits, including any false assumptions you have made about having a specific “type” that is limiting you from expanding your options.  Recognize your attachment style and think about the qualities you want to find in a potential partner.

2. Set clear goals and intentions– Do you want a casual relationship or are you seeking a committed relationship?  What shared interests are important to you?  What are your deal breakers?  Know that if you want something more meaningful, this is going to take time and patience.

3. Pay attention– When you are getting to know someone, really listen to what they are saying and see if their actions match their words.  Are you at ease with this person, or do somethings make you feel uneasy?  Don’t ignore red flags or dismiss your concerns.  For example, if someone is spending money like it is going out of style, don’t tell yourself, “no biggie, we can just keep our money separate.”  When you are cohabitating or get married, your partners problems do become your problems.

4. Cut your losses– The sunken cost theory is a fallacy.  Don’t think about how much time, money or energy you have spent on a relationship that is broken.  While you can never get back what you previously put in, you can put a stop to the hemorrhaging and move on.

Here is a tv interview on the subject with Dr. Shari Pfeffer Burns, who is based in CA.  I recently interviewed her for an upcoming article on Splitopia & will post that soon!