3 Ways to Be Mindful During Cuffing Season

Cuffing season has arrived! The season shifts away from the bustling summer months and the singles of the world start seeking a partner to cuddle up with as the cold approaches. In a nutshell, cuffing season is the time of year where singles are highly motivated to couple. Dating apps see a spike in activity while singles are rushing to find someone to binge watch Game of Thrones with. While dating and meeting new people can be exciting, it can also lead to burnout and a sense of mindlessness as we are swipe swipe swiping. And because we are so engaged with technology these days, it’d be beneficial to integrate some healthy dating practices into your day to remain true to what you are looking for and avoid dating burnout. Here are three ways to be mindful while dating during cuffing season:

  1. Designate a time of day to be present with your dating app. When we feel the mounting pressure to couple during this time of year, that may mean we find ourselves constantly checking our apps or dating sites. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider setting 30 minutes aside every day to mindfully engage with your app. By setting this boundary, you are making an active choice to be present with what you are actually looking for in a partner as opposed to mindlessly swiping as you wait in line for your coffee. By practicing this, you can stay present with yourself and the people around you during your day, instead of having your attention focused on reading another profile about how someone likes to travel, laugh and have fun. *Insert side eye.* To make this a healthy and rewarding ritual, find a comfortable space in your home, turn off all other distractions, and take your time to read profiles. Once your 30 minutes has passed (I encourage you to set a timer), put your app away until the next day. If you are feeling the pressure to chat with people throughout the day, consider setting aside time in the evening to answer messages or start conversations. Maintaining this boundary will hopefully leave you feeling more excited and present with your dating experience as opposed to overwhelmed.  

  2. Focus on one love prospect at a time. I get it. There are so many options out there!  It’s easy to develop dating “FOMO” and feel reluctant to focus on one person. When you are engaging with one person at a time, as opposed to 10 at a time (we’ve all been there) it can help you focus on how you actually feel around someone. With this in practice, you are going on one date a week, deciding whether or not you want to see that person again, and then moving forward with a second date or moving on to another potential partner (and no ghosting)! By integrating this, you will be able to focus on what kind of partner you are seeking while staying present with the person who is also setting aside their time to meet with you.

  3. Get offline and be mindful with your surroundings. This. Is. Big. It’s super easy to get caught up in the convenience of the dating supermarket you have in your pocket. Stop swiping while you wait in line at Trader Joes while there are literally single people within feet of where you are standing! So, what would it be like to make an active decision to put your phone back in your pocket and engage with the world around you? Go ahead and make some eye contact. Maybe even spark up a conversation with the barista. You know, practice your human skills. And don’t stop there! There are endless ways to engage with the world that do not require your cell phone. Taking the class you’ve been meaning to sign up for, joining an intramural sports league or hosting a board game night are just a few of the ways to do something different and meaningful with your time. Connecting to your interests and engaging in the world in an active and mindful way means you are putting yourself in situations with likeminded people. This sets you up not only to meet potential love interests, but also new friends. All while doing something you enjoy and have actively chosen to be present in.

These are just a few of the countless ways to stay mindful with your dating experience. By implementing these boundaries into your love life, I’m confident your connection to dating can change in a positive and meaningful way.   

~ Michelle Herzog, LMFT, CST

On Being a Sex Therapist

I was recently at an event in Chicago where I was mingling and meeting new folks while taking in the city views. In the typical back and forth of new people conversation, an inquiry of what I do for a living came up. This is where the conversation can get interesting. You see, I’m a Certified Sex Therapist. I work with people in the greater Chicago area who are struggling in their emotional and physical relationships. Pretty normal stuff for someone like me. Not so normal for someone who has never met a sex therapist or even heard about sex therapy before. Once that cat is out of the bag, I typically experience the conversation going one of two ways. While some people might be a little intimated by what that means (which I totally respect and understand), others are naturally curious and will start asking a lot of questions. And I get really excited when people ask questions.

So why do I tell complete strangers what I do for a living? Because I understand that at some point, they may need a therapist like me. A specialist who can work with their deeply personal issues in an informed and non-judgmental space. Someone who has the specific qualifications to work with them so they can feel confident and fulfilled again.

Here’s the thing, relationships are hard work. They demand consistent efforts towards intimacy building, self-awareness and vulnerability. And when people run into issues in their relationships, they typically experience issues with their sex lives. For a lot of people, sexual intimacy problems can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and a whole lot of other stuff. So, when I tell people about my job, I want them to know that this kind of resource is available to them, if and when it’s ever a need.

There are multiple reasons why someone may seek sex therapy. The most common issues I see in my practice are mismatched desires between partners (i.e. one partner wants to have more sex than the other), sexual dysfunction, low sexual self-awareness and sex after trauma or illness. Other issues range from sexual communication issues to painful intercourse. I love educating people about their sexualities, breaking down not-so-correct social constructs and creating a space for a new and healthy narrative. I value my job and the people I work with.  Every day, I am impressed by the work my clients undertake to improve their lives. I will continue to spread the word about sex therapy because there’s no other profession I’d rather be in. 

~ Michelle Herzog, LMFT, CST

Sex therapists are trained to work with a variety of relationship configurations and sexuality preferences and problems. There are a number of wonderful helping professionals out there in the sex therapy community. If you are looking for a qualified professional in your area, please visit the professional directory page at the American Association for Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).