More PsychNotes: Mindfulness and Relaxation Methods
Mindful Dating: How Does Mindfulness Affect Satisfaction in Relationships?
by Monica A. Frank, PhD
Mindfulness is a state of being centered in the present. As such, it is not focused on fears of the future nor does it dwell on uncertainties of the past. This present awareness provides the mindful individual with a strong sense of self not easily influenced by outside concerns.
Recent research shows that individuals who have a high degree of mindfulness also report a greater degree of satisfaction in their dating relationships. The mindful attitude seems to provide a stable base from which the person can approach the relationship without being overly critical or demanding of the self or the other. In such a way, the mindful individual does not become entangled in the emotional ups and downs of the partner because he or she is able to define a personal distance (Khaddouma, et al., 2015).
As I write this it occurs to me that this description is very similar to what therapists do. People often ask me, “How can you listen to people's problems all day long and not become overwhelmed by them?” Generally, it is because the mindful attitude allows the therapist to care without worrying about the future or distressing about the past.
Such a focus, whether in the dating relationship, therapeutic relationship, or other types of relationships, allows the mindful person to make a distinction between themselves and the other person. In this way they do not become embroiled in or overwhelmed by stressful situations, can remain objective, and resolve problems without becoming ensnared by them.
Although this research examined people who naturally experienced a mindful attitude towards life, it is possible to develop a more mindful approach. My audios on Understanding Mindfulness
can be downloaded free (transcripts are also provided) if you want to learn how to develop a more mindful attitude.
Khaddouma, A., Gordon, K.C. and Bolden, J. (2015). Zen and the Art of Dating: Mindfulness, Differentiation of Self, and Satisfaction in Dating Relationships. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 4, 1–13. DOI: 10.1037/cfp0000035
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