A lot of terms get thrown around in the modern dating world, and one that’s recently been going around is the concept of “dating with intention.” Whether you heard it referenced in a podcast or the term is entirely new to you, we’re here to unpack it all for you.
First, let’s start with the basics. What is the meaning of dating with intention? Intentional dating refers to going into the dating scene with a better understanding of who, how, and why you want to date. It involves reflecting on your wants and needs and being more mindful about the choices you make. Instead of just showing up and hoping your relationship will go a certain way, dating with purpose invites you to clarify your values and define the direction you want to take.
How exactly do you date with intention, though? We’re glad you asked. In our guide below, we provide some helpful tips for dating with purpose and being intentional in your relationships.
Figure Out What You Want (and Don’t Want)
The first step toward dating intentionally involves sorting out your own wants and needs. Take some time to reflect on what you truly want from life. Begin by removing any potential partners from the equation and simply focusing on yourself.
What makes you smile? What makes you radiate joy? And what motivates you to get out of bed each morning? As you explore the answers to these questions, think about how that factors into your life goals. And then, consider how those goals might play into your relationship or the kind of person you’d like to date.
For example, maybe you’re passionate about travel and want to spend your free time exploring five new countries every year. In this case, you may look for a partner who shares your love of travel and has a job that allows them to take time off (and afford) to jet set. In the same vein, you might determine you’d feel stifled or grounded by someone who never leaves their hometown because you’d be compromising your goal of traveling the world.
You see, the more you understand about yourself, the more mindful you’ll be of whether a potential partner enhances or hinders you. After all, you deserve to be with someone who expands you, allowing you to be the best version of yourself rather than holding you back.
Reflect on Your Core Values
What do you stand for? And what drives your decisions? Your core values are essentially your moral compass, helping you navigate through life and make decisions regarding every aspect of your life, from your career to your relationships. Understanding what values you prioritize can help you with dating with intention.
For instance, when it comes to your core values, you may emphasize trust, compassion, and reliability. You pride yourself on being true to those aspects, and you’ll therefore need a partner who appreciates and values those elements, too.
With this in mind, you can begin making relationship intentions, such as, “Because I value trust, I am seeking a partner who is honest and authentic,” or “I value compassion and need a partner who is empathic and sensitive to my needs,” or “I value reliability, so I am seeking a dependable partner who I can count on.”
Set Boundaries and Stick to Them
Setting boundaries help you determine what you’re willing (and not willing) to tolerate in a relationship. Boundaries give you the ability to say “no” and get you off the hook in certain situations, especially if you’re prone to people-pleasing. When you know your limits, you can show up more authentically in your relationships and focus on dating with intention.
For instance, your boundaries in relationships might revolve around some level of independence. In this case, in order for you to flourish in a relationship, you might need the freedom to have alone time, where you can reflect, relax, and recharge on your own. Because of this, someone who is smothering, obsessive, controlling, or clingy is going to very quickly test your limits. If you let your partner disregard your boundaries of independence, you’re not honoring or respecting yourself or the limitations you’ve set.
Another boundary could involve mutual respect, meaning you won’t tolerate a partner who speaks down to you, uses a degrading tone with you, or refuses to see you as an equal in the relationship. On the contrary, you need a partner who is kind, thoughtful, and considerate of you, your feelings, and your opinions.
Above all, it’s up to you to uphold and maintain your boundaries, but if they’re being crossed in your relationship, it may be time to reconsider whether that relationship is serving you. Because if you’ve lost control over your boundaries, you’ve probably set your intention aside.
Once you narrow down what you’re looking for in a partner and a relationship, be open and upfront about it. Remember, you’ve put all that time into figuring out what you want and need, so now’s not the time to shy away from proclaiming it.
If you’re on a first date, don’t be afraid to say you want kids, or if you’re chatting with someone on an online dating app, be honest about how you’re looking to settle down and get married. After all, what’s the sense of dating someone who doesn’t want to raise a family or who’s only looking for a summer fling if that goes against your intentions?
Instead, speak freely about what’s important to you in a relationship and encourage them to do the same.
Focus on Honest Communication
Part of being open and upfront involves honestly communicating with one another. And sometimes, this means having difficult conversations. Sure, talking about finances on the first date might be the sexiest of topics, but if that’s an important aspect of your relationship goals and intentions, then put it all out on the table.
Being intentional in a relationship means opening up about the stuff that could potentially impact your future together. Don’t interrogate your date, but consider asking some questions that will help determine if you’re compatible and on the same page.
Be True To Yourself
There’s a time and a place for compromise, but when it comes to being true to yourself, there’s no room for negotiation. Once you’ve determined the path you want to take, don’t falter or sway under pressure. Own who you are and be authentic regardless of how they may perceive you.
For example, maybe you’re noticing signs of chemistry between you and a guy who is hell-bent on being a forever bachelor while you’ve determined that getting married is actually really important to you. Just because he seems like a catch doesn’t mean you should throw away your dreams of getting hitched to date him. As difficult as it may be, a big part of intentional dating involves knowing when to give dating a chance and when to walk away.
That said, you’re allowed to change your mind and reconsider the intentions you’ve set for yourself, but be sure to do that on your own terms and not in spite of someone else.
Once you determine your relationship intentions, you may find that dating feels easier and more engaging. Instead of just diving blindly into a relationship, you’ll have a better grasp on the direction you want to take and the criteria that meets your needs. However, if you feel like you’re experiencing dating fatigue or no longer enjoying yourself, take a break, recalibrate, and then get back out there when you’re ready.