Tinder Fatigued? Try Conscious Dating Instead

Gwyneth would approve.

Remember when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin declared they were consciously uncoupling? The world collectively eye-rolled and quickly filed it under ‘standard Goop babble’, but the concept is, at its core, pretty sound: it’s about both parties mindfully working towards an amicable and respectful break-up.

Imagine, then, if we took the same approach to starting relationships. You know, going on dates with a sense of openness and curiosity, rather than suspicion and fear.

Ditching the ‘who texts first?’ games for genuine conversations and honesty... Woah. It sounds radical, yes, but like mermaid lattes and ginormous tote bags, conscious dating is a thing, and it’s the perfect antidote to Tinder fatigue.

“When you’re dating consciously (or mindfully), you’re making a choice to be more present, to be open, to be vulnerable, as well as taking responsibility for the ‘stuff’ or ‘baggage’ that you bring to a relationship,” explains Kaila Perusco, founder of Sydney’s Conscious Dating Co.

“You’re choosing to forgo the usual rules of dating – playing it cool, hiding your true self, playing games – and instead, deciding to be true to yourself.”

Kaila’s been introducing this wild concept to Sydney singles since 2016 and says it resonates because people are disillusioned by the soulless swiping of modern dating. “People are looking for more meaningful connections. We speak to a lot of people who are feeling ‘Tinder fatigue’ – they’re sick of swiping and having shallow, online chats that lead nowhere,” she says.

“There’s something about meeting someone in real life that just can’t be replaced by digital dating. The eye contact, the facial expressions, the way someone laughs... it’s those things that create ‘sparks’, that leave us wanting to get to know someone more.”

Attending an organised conscious dating event makes the concept easy – at Kaila’s mixers, singles shake off the jitters with a group activity like wine tasting or life drawing, and when it’s time for one-on-one convos, standard topics such as ‘what do you do for work?’ are off-limits. “We are all about skipping the small talk, and people love that,” Kaila notes.

Keen to try it out on your next date? There are a few guidelines to follow and while they sound simple, they may take some effort. First up, you’ll need to leave your checklist at home.

Instead, Kaila suggests looking for a genuine connection with your date rather than “someone to fill a certain role in your life or who can tick all of your boxes.” The good news? This mindset allows you to break stale or unhelpful dating patterns and consider a wider pool of potential partners.

Next, put your judgemental reflex on hold for the night. Conscious dating is about practising something psychologists call ‘unconditional positive regard’ – or in regular speak, being a nice human. In a dating context, it means not mentally drawing a big line through your date’s name when they admit they didn’t watch Bachelor In Paradise.

“Often we want to put people into boxes really quickly. Maybe you’re on a date and you’ve already written someone off because of the shoes they’re wearing, or some daggy music they’ve admitted to liking, but there might be so much more to that person that we’re not staying open to because we’ve judged too quickly,” explains Kaila.

Practising non-judgment and acceptance post-dinner and drinks can help with the whole fledgling relationship headache, too. “If you can accept that there are so many factors that might determine if someone messages you back or is interested in you, it takes that sting of rejection away,” says Kaila.

“Maybe that person is still dealing with feelings from a past relationship, maybe they aren’t in the right headspace for a new connection, maybe they’re scared of being vulnerable – we aren’t to know! Rejection is generally much less personal than we think it to be.”

But the biggest shift might be in letting go of the outcome. While Kaila says she’s seen plenty of new couples blossom after mindfully meeting at her events, the real aim of conscious dating is less about hunting down your soul mate and more about opening up to new experiences and growing as a person. Dating that fills your cup? Don’t mind if we do.

Feature image: Getty.