If you live for making visual boards on Pinterest or can't go a day without repeating daily affirmations, you may already know the power of setting intentions. Whether you bullet journal by yourself in bed or like to talk about your plans with your friends — setting goals can be a great way to learn about yourself and start living the best life for you. Of course, when it comes to finding fulfillment in your love life, it's natural to wonder: Does setting an intention for dating help you in the long run?
Although setting intentions for your career or personal health may look like establishing measurable goals (think: "I want a 5% raise by next May" or "I'm going to drink two water bottles everyday") according to relationship experts, setting dating intentions can mean adapting a more mindful approach or emotional awareness to how you date, rather than setting strict time limits or rules on finding love. "Setting an intention for dating implies that you plan to be mindful about dating in a way that perhaps you have not in the past," licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson tells Elite Daily. "Setting an intention can be particularly impactful if you feel as though you would like to make different choices in future relationships."
Rather than pressuring yourself to find a partner before wedding season or not texting your crush first (even when you want to), setting a dating intention can simply be a plan to listen to your heart more as you meet new people. "Often times, people set so many boundaries around how they want their dating lives to look, there is no space for organic connections," Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Elite Daily. "When you set an intention, you’re creating more awareness (actually 'seeing what happens'), which will open up new possibilities of organic connections." According to Edwards, setting intentions while dating doesn't mean forcing your ideal love story on others, but getting clear on your own values and beliefs on love and sex, which can ultimately help you find the right people for you. "When you’re setting an intention, you’re declaring a plan that really speaks to how you want to show up in your dating life," Edwards says. "The clearer you are, the stronger your beliefs, actions, and decisions become — making dating much a simpler process for you in the wake of others who may not be in alignment with your intentions."
According to Susan Winter, NYC-based relationship expert and love coach, setting dating intentions or having emotional clarity on what matters to you in love, can bring you closer to the types of relationships you're looking for, and importantly, away from the types of relationships you're not looking for. "Setting an intention alerts your unconscious mind to notice a potential connection that's in alignment with your goals," Winter tells Elite Daily. "It's your heart and your body. You need to know how you want to be treated, and be able to articulate what's OK and what's not OK." As Winter says, another benefit to having dating intentions is getting clear on what you want from relationships before they become something you weren't really looking for. "If you don't know what you want, they'll be the one setting the rules and the direction in which they guide you may not be the direction you want to go," Winter says. "But instead of understanding why you're upset, you'll simply be confused."
If you know that family is super important to you or you're looking for someone to travel with, hearing that your date is super close with their siblings or just got back from an insane trip may help you both connect deeper. And if they spend the whole date talking about how they never want to get married or don't like to leave the city, you may realize you're better off as friends (or just as two people in the world that went on one date once) before getting into something that doesn't feel right for either of you.
As Richardson says, setting intentions when dating is less about curating your love life or restricting yourself when a cutie wants to buy you a drink, and more about knowing yourself better. "Setting intention(s) has nothing to do with limiting options. It has everything to do with going in with eyes wide open and feeling clear about what you are/aren't ready for," Richardson says. "What is going to happen will happen anyway. Setting an intention can just help you rethink or approach the 'same 'ole situation' with a different mindset. It helps you feel more clear and confident in your own decision making." If you've been on too many bad first dates to count or you always find yourself a couple months into a "casual relationship" that's not feeling super casual anymore, having dating intentions can help you break the dating patterns that you've created in your life.
According to the experts, setting intentions in your dating life can help you make more meaningful connections with people who are looking for similar things as you. Being clear on how you want to conduct yourself on a first date, what matters to you in a partner, and what type of relationships you are open to, can open the door for love to find you — even in unexpected places. Though dating inevitably comes with highs and lows, having an intention can help you stay true to your heart the whole way through.