Dating with “Beginner’s Mind”

The term “Beginner’s Mind” comes from Zen Buddhism. It means having an open mind, an eagerness and a lack of preconceptions when learning about a topic or activity, even when you aren’t a novice.

Midlife dating can be difficult to approach with a childlike wonder because you’ve dated in the past and/or been in long-term relationships. You feel you are at the graduate level, not a newbie. You think you know a lot about the other gender, even if you’ve had difficulty in many of your past relationships.

The key element of this approach is that in the Beginner’s Mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

Here’s a story that illustrates this concept.

A learned man went to visit a famous Zen master under the auspices of wanting to learn more about Zen from the master. As the master quietly prepared tea, the man pontificated about Zen. On and on he went arrogantly sharing what was “right” and “wrong” with the philosophy. When the master poured the visitor’s tea, he continued pouring past the brim. The man watched the overflowing cup, yelling at the master, “Stop! It’s overfull! No more will go in!” The master looked at him calmly.”You are like this cup. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”

So it can be with dating. If we think we are so advanced that we know all there is to know about ourselves, men and relationships, there is no room for new information. We pontificate: “All men want is sex,” “Men are jerks,” “All the good men are taken.” There is no room in our world view to see that men want more than just sex, there are lots of wonderful, available, non-jerk midlife men wanting to find a great woman like you.

So how do we approach dating with Beginner’s Mind? The first step is to be aware of what preconceptions are in our mind already and be willing to let go of the beliefs that keep us attracting men that aren’t a match and repelling men that are. When we release old beliefs that no longer serve us, there is room for messages that will get us what we want: a loving, interesting, honest, loyal man.

When you hear yourself thinking a negative stereotypical thought, actively work to say, “I am open to believing a different interpretation.” For example, you hear of a man cheating on his girlfriend, you think, “All men are players, cheaters and pigs.” Consciously change that to, “A few men are cheaters, but I know that the majority of men are loyal, honest and caring. That is the kind of man who is attracted to be with me.”

What makes it difficult for you to approach dating with a Beginner’s Mind? What negative tapes keep playing in your head that you think limit you from approaching dating with enthusiasm and wonder?


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5 responses to “Dating with “Beginner’s Mind””

  1. Rhea Avatar

    I never thought I would get to be jaded, but I think I am. I try to be open and excited to meet someone new, but I have been disappointed many times, so it’s hard to muster that excitement.

  2. Mitsy Avatar

    Same here. My guy and I have been apart since the first of Nov. this past year. He has some issues he needs to sort out, but I do still care about him, and I also hope that someday we might be together again. But, I can’t count on that. I’ve thought a lot about my online dating days and just don’t have the gumption to go there again. I don’t have the thick skin it takes to deal with rejection and disappointment. I often felt like there was something wrong with me when I had such a hard time trying to figure out why a guy would act interested and then string me along with no intention of following through with more dates or a real relationship. Yeah, it does jade you. You have a negative outlook because, quite frankly, it’s hard to be positive when there’s so much game playing with online dating. For now, I’m trying to be content with just myself and do some things that I haven’t had the chance to do at home. Eventually, maybe I’ll be ready to date again, but not for a long while.

  3. Jack Avatar

    Great advice DG. I’ve had some major disappointments but I never say No to an invitation or a friend who wants to introduce me to meet some of her friends. This is good advice for all aspects of life. I am the student and all around me are my teachers.

  4. Liz Avatar

    Meeting men, I look at it as an adventure. I am not so worried if they like me as much as do I like them. I never put too much effort into it in the beginning. If we do not meet within a reasonable period of time, then I lose interest. When we do meet, one hour of my time meeting them face to face for the first time is nothing in the whole scheme of things. If there is a connection, fine. If not, that is fine, too. Because I ALWAYS know that if there is no connection there is a reason for that. BOTH WAYS. At my age I know what I want and definitely know what I don’t want.

  5. Arlene Avatar

    good advice!
    I am not so sure how easy it is to empty ones cup but half empty is better than full, for sure.