EPISODE 20: Mindfulness Meets Online Dating
Originally Aired: June 27, 2017
HOST Online dating used to be considered a sub-par way of finding a mate. However, since 2005, it has lost that stigma. According to Match.com’s recent Singles in America study, more than half of all singles in the US, have an online profile. Nearly half of all singles who’ve tried online dating said it led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage. Most Americans consider it a good way to meet people. There are dating sites for every kind of search whether you want a hookup or a hiking partner. From Match, to Bumble, to Tinder, you can look for love or a sexy lover.
HOST Amy Baglan is on a mission to evolve the dating industry. She stands at the intersection of technology and the explosion of mindfulness in mainstream culture.
AMY Here I am like doing my gratitude practice and here I am doing my meditation but how much of that work am I actually putting into my relationship and my dating life? And I thought that’s so weird because I don’t think it’s the same like level of intention and attention that goes into it and what if we shifted that?
HOST In 2012, she moved to Denver and founded YogaDates, which was nationally recognized as the first company ever to successfully combine yoga and dating events. It was the catalyst for her current venture MeetMindful. She started MeetMindful to provide a place for singles in personal development, mindfulness, social change, meditation, yoga and green living to meet like-minded people and discover how to have the best relationship possible.
MY NAME IS ANDY HORNING, AND THIS IS ELEPHANT TALK. IT’S ABOUT ALL THINGS RELATIONSHIP – THE SOULFUL, THE SILLY AND THE SEXY.
Amy Yeah. I went through couple’s therapy last year.
AH You did? And you went to couple’s therapy?
AH How did it go?
Amy Oh my God! We like…
AH He looked like such a nice guy.
Amy He’s a great guy.
AH But you broke up.
Amy Yeah, we broke up.
AH What happened?
Amy Is this recording?
AH So wait. Did you ask, “Is this recording?” Why? Why did you ask that?
Amy Because I don’t want say certain things publicly.
Amy Because I want to respect privacy.
AH And yet, I guarantee you, whatever you might share is felt universally. Wouldn’t agree on some level?
AH I know and you have choice around that.
Amy Yeah. And I think like a level up is what happened was like deep attachment wounds that like we couldn’t be each other’s primary. We were not willing to be to fit in and be each other’s primary partners for reasons that we like had deep wounding around and didn’t work with and weren’t willing to work with enough.
Amy Coincidentally, most people go through this.
AH Yeah, right. Most people go through this.
AH I heard you say, “We’re not willing to do the work around our attachment wounds with one another.”
AH Why not? It sounds like a conscious choice.
Amy Yeah. For me, it absolutely was.
AH Don’t you think that’s going to come up in the next relationship?
Amy Yes, absolutely.
Amy Annie Lalla and Annie is a conscious relationship coach and she specializes in conflict resolution.
Amy I was on the phone crying to her. I remember when we kind of like got past honeymoon stage and it was like fucking hard. And it was hard and it was like I was on the phone with her I remember and I was crying and I was like, “Oh my God! It’s just so much work. Why is it so much work?” And she was like, “Well, honey, there’s always going to be work. It’s just up to you who you want to do it with.”
Amy So when you say it’s a conscious choice like I consciously chose not to do it with him.
AH With him. Did he make a choice around that?
Amy Knowing that that was my choice, yeah. He made a choice. Yeah.
Amy I remember being like I want more and being told you’re not accepting me for who I am, like what I am is not enough and that really sucks and I’m happy to be more but if you’re telling me that what I am right now is not enough, then it doesn’t make me want to go be more because I’m always like swimming upstream.
AH Those were his words more or less?
Amy Yeah. Yeah. And so I felt terrible because I was like, “I can see that.” I would hate that feeling if somebody who’s like, you know, you’re 80% of the way there just do more and then you’ll be there and I’ll be happy.
Amy And I do feel like…
AH That’s my marriage.
AH Yes. I say want more and at times my wife has said, “I’m not enough,” and I spent too long skirting that issue and saying. “No, no, no, just be more of you and it will be enough.” And I think if I had to do it over again, I would have said, “Well, maybe you’re not.” Like I would have gone there with her probe and said, “Yeah, maybe you’re not.” And one of the things I realized is that I have a lot of energy. I mean I have high expectations for what intimate partnership can do. And I read the study once two years ago that said it’s not the high expectations that are problem or low expectations in intimate partnership. It’s the difference between the two.
Amy Yeah, I believe that.
Amy Yeah, absolutely.
AH And that if people just had similar expectations, they’d be more successful in their partnerships.
Amy I mean, I think there’s something interesting about being told I want more from you. I mean the first one that comes to mind to me is challenge, but that’s kind of like the surface part of it, right? Most of us want to be a greater like more version of ourselves, right? More powerful, like more connected, more authentic, deeper, more accomplished, and more giving. That’s a big one for me. And to be actually like pointblank told that by somebody else I think is very rare
Amy I recently reconnected with a former partner of mine from like three years ago and he’s amazing. And we’re trying to figure out what sort of container can we set up, right? And he kept saying to me like, I’m still trying to figure out what it is I get out of this because I want more and I don’t think I’m getting that from you.” And I was like, “Oh, well, what is it? Maybe I can do that.” It was like this really interesting like… my God, challenge comes up again, right? Because I’m curious because it’s a blind spot obviously for me, you know? And I geek out over that stuff because if I can actually like be shown the blind spot then I can do something with it.
AH Maybe he’s calling you forth to a place that in yourself that you didn’t know about.
Amy Yeah, exactly.
AH The first observation I have is noticing the different reactions. You say it to your old partner, he responds like, “Well, can’t you accept me for who I am?” Your current partner says it to you and you go, “Wait, oh, that’s kind of cool. Say more.”
Amy Yeah. Yeah. Isn’t that interesting?
AH I think the responses are more telling than anything else.
Amy Yeah, I agree.
AH I would say you want someone who goes the way you responded which is to get curious and not get defensive.
Amy Yeah, totally.
Amy And it’s that simple phrase of like it’s going to be work no matter who you’re with and it’s always going to be the same pattern too. So it’s up to you to choose who you want to do it with, huge mind blown moment.
AH I want to go there because that’s what you’re doing now in your life. And for me, I was reflecting recently that I’m a terrible, I’m much better in partnership than I am at choosing partners. And so you’re helping people choose partners. Will you talk a little bit about Yoga Dates and MeetMindful and how and why you came to this?
Amy So I’d always been in small companies and startups. I love building something from nothing. That’s what lights me up and apparently I’m good at it. So that’s awesome. Someone brought me to a yoga class and then I was like, “Oh my God! It was just that deep sense of like peace and connection to source. And I got super into yoga and meditation in that year. It was what I was looking for. It was a thing that gave me permission to let go of the patterns and the toxic relationships and like things that were in my life.
Amy I was like, “I’m done.” I’m going to go and travel and study and bought a one-way ticket to India and I traveled for a year. And every city I went to in my travels I ended up just dropping into a community of generally expats and everybody was doing their own thing. They all had this like thread that connected them and the best where I can come up with it is mindfulness, like some version of that showed up in their life and it was what connected them to the communities of people that we were hanging out with and super inspiring, super energized from being around people like this.
Amy I would go to yoga studios here and everyone would just like sit in silence and like not talk. And I thought, “Well, I want to meet some people.” I bet they do too. I had been like on MeetUp and OkCupid and it just felt a little like something was missing. I read something in a magazine talking a Valentine’s Day Partner Yoga Speed Dating and I was like, “What?” That’s brilliant.”
AH Partner Yoga Speed Dating?
Amy That’s so cool! Yeah. And my brain is like, “I know exactly how I would do that,” right? That night, I set up a meet-up group, I called it Yoga Dates. I went and started doing these events and I thought it was so much fun because I could change format. We would do like, you know, Yoga Speed Dating and Vinyasa and Vino and we would do movie nights. There was also this bigger thing happening where people would like call me and they would say, “I’m a Buddhist. I don’t do yoga, but I think these are my people. Can I come?” And I was like, “Sure. That’s ballsy of you. That’s awesome.”
Amy Everybody was like super, just turned on and attracted in a way that wasn’t like weird and sexual. I ended up exploring like what is a greater thing here? What is a bigger next step? Because there’s something different. There’s something here and I think I’m just scratching the surface of it
Amy There’s something bigger going on and then I learned about the LOHAS market lifestyles of health and sustainability. There’s market research around the audience size and I learned that this market is huge and it ranges from like how hardcore people are on the path, how engaged they are in this mindful lifestyle.
AH So you checked your market.
Amy Checked the market. And I was like, “This is huge and I want to go after it.” It’s something that I just couldn’t ignore, like I thought about doing other stuff, I thought about being like the online partner yoga person because no one is doing that either. And I thought, “Well, no, I think my calling is to do this bigger thing. That’s what brought me to start MeetMindful.
HOST IF YOU’RE JUST JOINING US, I’M TALKING WITH AMY BAGLAN. SHE FOUNDED THE ONLINE DATING SITE MEETMINDFUL.
THE UNIQUENESS OF THIS DATING SITE IS THAT IT PROVIDES A PLACE FOR SINGLES WHO ARE INTERESTED IN FINDING A PARTNER, AND WHO ALSO ARE INTERESTED IN PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL CHANGE, GREEN LIVING, YOGA AND OTHER MINDFUL LIVING PRACTICES.
WHETHER OR NOT YOU THINK MINDFULNESS HAS BECOME JUST ANOTHER SELF-HELP FAD, WHAT’S NOT A FAD IS WANTING TO FIND A LIKE-MINDED ROMANTIC PARTNER.
Amy I thought it was really interesting that people in this like kind of mindful conscious demographic like often times and here I am like doing my gratitude practice and here I am doing my meditation but how much of that work am I actually putting into my relationship and my dating life, whether it’s dating or relationship or whatever? And I thought that’s so weird because I don’t think it’s the same like level of intention and attention that goes into it and what if we shifted that? Over time we’ll be aggregating a lot of really cool, helpful content for people, both related to how they show up in dating relationships but also in their greater practice.
AH This idea of meeting someone, falling in love, choosing to commit together for a lifetime, that whole narrative, we get caught in this mythology of romantic love and everything else goes out the window. You’re bringing this thing that people do independently which is to have a practice of deepening their awareness in the world and who they are and you’re bringing that to relationships and even the beginning part of relationships. That’s fantastic.
Amy The bigger vision is to get to the point where we’re supporting people not only in the beginning stages of meeting somebody, but throughout the relationship and throughout their life.
AH In terms of what we’re doing here is conversation because oftentimes, you know, we don’t know how to have courageous conversation.
Amy You know, it’s interesting what we’re talking about reminds me of something we actually focus a lot in the company at MeetMindful. We’re 15 people now. And we get real nerdy about it, like everybody takes Myers-Briggs, everybody takes… we’re doing a big StrengthsFinder workshop next week. We’ve done Enneagram work.
AH And so for the sake of what? Why?
Amy My cofounder, we had a really hard time me and him like just butting heads constantly. We realized, in hindsight I can say is what we were so upset about is what ultimately now we recognize each other’s strengths except we just didn’t recognize it that way before and so we were upset at each other for it. So like one of his things is he’s really good at systems and everything is operationalized and like he needs that to feel secure in what he’s doing. I love that about him. I love it. But back then, I hated it because it was like stifling my creativity and all this stuff. And same thing for him, like me and the bigger ideas and like very little follow through. We work well together and now that we know this we work well together and we work with each other on those strengths that can show up as weaknesses in the moment. It’s not just romantic partnerships. It happens all the time.
AH You talk about this even though it is a business partnership. How are your strengths honored and his strengths honored? Oftentimes, I think these kinds of relationships are so complicated and so simple like both are true.
Amy So basic sounding. So complicated to get there, right? Because their ego just steps in like, “But he should this, but I should this.”
AH So tell me about MeetMindful and what do you notice about people’s dating habits, people’s interests? Is it working?
Amy We hear every day is success story from our customer success department and we get to read what they’ve said. They’re actively writing to us, sharing this. And it is so cool because first of all, if people are writing, say one a day, that means that there’s nine or ten others that are happening that we’re not hearing about. What I love about it is that people have this feeling of like finally, “finally there’s this person, my person is here and I found them here.” “Finally, I’m on a platform that I actually feel like safe on.”
There seems to be this degree of permission that people feel on MeetMindful to really like let the guard down and will they reveal who they are. I’ve come across people’s profiles on Bumble and MeetMindful and what they reveal about themselves on MeetMindful is so much more.
AH My experience is that the world is pretty superficial and it doesn’t support depth. And so it sounds like there is a place now for people in this very superficial thing at first which is who are and who am I and are we attracted to each other, you guys are bringing soul to that, you’re bringing depth to that.
Amy The question for us is, “What is the fine line? What is the appropriate amount of depth that we’re asking for without making it feel like this very complicated process of the past, right? And I think we do a pretty good job with that right now and people are answering questions in a deeper way and like getting to their passions, revealing imperfections that they’re working on or embracing. Like you say it is such a superficial culture that we’re in and it just is. It’s not like a bad thing. It’s just what’s up and to feel like it’s okay to show that part of you is rare.
AH Do you have a national participation across the country?
Amy We do. Yeah. Our greatest critical mass or our greatest concentration of people is in Denver and Boulder, and then LA and San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, like just the West Coast. And then other markets like Austin and South Florida, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and New York tri-state, like those are picking up really quickly. We are in a stage where we are shifting marketing efforts to a national campaign and we’re gearing up for a really big push in the fall.
AH When it comes to relationship, people will give advice around how to show up and yet people won’t reveal. How is this altered your own approach to dating?
Amy I am active right now on both MeetMindful and Bumble and it’s very interesting being on both platforms and feeling the differences. What I’m noticing about my approach this time around is it’s truly been awhile since I’ve been like an actual true consumer of my own app and dating, right?
AH And you’ve changed and you’re a little different than you were the last time you were out there.
Amy Very much so. One of the things that I’ve noticed is… well, I’ve been working a lot in the patterns of the men that I tend to attract and call in and I’m highly aware of that now. So like sexy, bad boy, like I don’t really go for it anymore even though I so want to, but I’m catching myself on that because I really feel connected to what I want, what I desire now, and I want to lead with that for sure what I’m really committed to. Another thing that I’m noticing has shifted a lot is the level of integrity that I aspire to and hold myself to.
Amy The integrity for me is showing up in a way that feels like I can be proud of how I showed up no matter who I showed up to. Before in the past, I might not have replied to a message or I may have just kind of just let something fizzle out or, so I am going against that natural inclination to just be fully transparent.
AH I talked to this colleague who said you should pay attention to the issue that arises when you’re dating someone or when you’re finding someone because that will be the issue that presents itself in your partnership should you settle down with that person. So it’s kind of what you’re talking about which is don’t ignore this emerging thing early on that might be getting in the way because that could become the larger thing that you’re navigating if you were to stay together.
Amy Yeah. And that’s so true. I mean, I’m just like doing a quick inventory in my head of the past experiences and yup, that nails it. Yeah.
Amy So Alison Armstrong runs a company called PAX Incorporated and PAX is the Latin word for peace and she is just amazing relationship teacher, expert and she teaches women curriculum called the Queen’s Code and the Queen’s Code is basically learning how as growing up as girls into women that we’ve been taught to emasculate men.
Amy The things that we do as women to subconsciously emasculate men to put you guys down so we feel less threatened is so fucked up and we do it so much and we don’t even know. So she illuminates this behavior that no one is like… and everyone is innocent in this. We just don’t know we’re doing it.
AH And it’s subtle because women are more subtle, right? Men are more aggressive. Part of what you’re saying is that the way women emasculate men is really subtle and yet powerful.
Amy Yeah, and we can see it in the body language, like I can say one thing and like you can cower in and it might because you were looking for directions to the place we were going and I was like, “Oh, you’re taking too long, just give me the phone.” And I think I’m helping out but in reality, I just like took away your ability to provide. She has a panel of men answer questions that women in the audience or in the course have asked. Every time the question usually is something like, “How do you know when she’s the one or how do you know it is someone you really want to commit to?” Right? Often it’s I don’t really know until we’ve had conflict and I see how she handles it and how we handle it together. Can we be a team or does it feel like that thing I felt in the past that’s just feels really shitty and doesn’t feel like it’s workable?” And I love hearing that. It actually makes me excited for that stuff to come up.
AH To appreciate the conflict that might be arising because there’s information there.
Amy Absolutely. I’ve shifted my behavior towards the men in my life to really make sure that I’m coming from a place of like empowering and not emasculating behavior. Oftentimes us women want to be independent and say, “No, no, no, no. I’m okay,” and we think we’re saving you the time, but you guys are like, “That sucks. I was really excited to do that.” And there’s a whole other thing about like how women are like very, you know, tribal, cavewomen that we all we want to do is connect, connect, connect, connect, right? And we do it so well with our girlfriends and when… one example I love that she gives, but when we’re in the car and like y’all are driving us somewhere and we’re trying to talk to you about something and connect about our day, but you’re like, “We must get hurry to restaurant. Let’s go.” And like you fade out for a second. You’re not paying attention because you’re trying to get us to the place and do the provider-protector thing and we’re like yapping about something because we’re trying to connect. And then when you’re not paying attention because you’re trying to provide for us but we don’t know that, we think you suck. Isn’t that sad?
AH Yeah, it is. It’s kind of tragic.
Amy And we can do something about it. To me, this is so amazing to have this knowledge to work with.
Amy Again, it’s like that playbook, like who am I working with and what makes them tick and what do they need and how can I support that?
AH What’s your wish for people dating out there?
Amy Always know what it is that you want like from your core before anything else.
Amy Because if you don’t, it’s like that Alice in Wonderland quote like, “Which road should I take?” “Where are you going?” “I don’t know.” Then it doesn’t really matter. If you don’t know what you want and what you’re after and what you’re up for and what you’re committed to, then there’s no way. How are you going to know when you find it? How are you going to know when you’re working with something that is not it? You know, we’re all just so wrapped up and like making him like me again, like having her call me back and like being in a committed partnership with somebody because it’s the next step, not because it’s what we want. And what’s the point? So being really connected to what it is that we truly desire and like being clear on that.
THANK YOU TO AMY BAGLAN. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MEETMINDFUL VISIT MEETMINDFUL.COM, AND OUR WEBSITE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND RESOURCES ABOUT ONLINE DATING.
IF YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE YOUR STORY SEND US COMMENTS, OR BECOME A SPONSOR, VISIT US AT ELEPHANTTALK.ORG. JOIN THE CONVERSATION.
OUR PRODUCERS ARE LISA GRAY AND KIM POLETTI. OUR THEME MUSIC IS BY ROB BURGER. ADDITIONAL MUSIC BY KAILA FLEXER, RUBEN VAN ROMPAEY, AND MONOM. AUDIO PRODUCTION ASSISTANCE PROVIDED BY LESLIE GASTON-BIRD AND JOSH KERN.
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THANK YOU FOR LISTENING. I’M YOUR HOST ANDY HORNING. THIS IS REAL LOVE. THIS IS ELEPHANT TALK.