10 Ways To Practice Mindfulness In Romantic Relationships

Mindfulness is more than yoga classes and meditation sessions. You can practice it anytime, anywhere, including in your relationships. It might even be the secret to having a healthy and thriving romantic relationship. Become more mindful in your love life with these 10 tips and exercises.

  1. Practice solo mindfulness. Okay, so this is where yoga and meditation might be required after all. To practice mindfulness in your relationship, it first helps to practice it on your own. Doing a relaxing yoga flow, going on a mind-clearing walk, or starting a gratitude journal are all ways to become more mindful by yourself. The key is to disconnect from your thoughts, observing them yet remaining detached. Learning this one mindfulness skill can make a major difference, especially if you struggle with insecurities and anxiety in your relationship.
  2. Pause during arguments. Disagreements are a part of every relationship, but how you handle them can make or break your bond with your partner. Before getting swept up in anger and defensiveness, take a timeout. Walk away from the argument until your body’s stress response cools down (it’s best to wait at least an hour), and during that time, go on a walk or listen to some easygoing music. That way, you can create space between yourself and the thoughts swirling around in your head. Return to the conversation only when you’ve had a chance to regulate your emotions and feel ready to talk again.
  3. Hold a weekly meeting. Mindfulness doesn’t mean brushing off relationship problems like they’re no big deal. If something matters to you, it matters—period. Have regular “meetings,” intentional and scheduled conversations where you and your partner can discuss issues and concerns. During these talks, remain open to feedback, and be willing to admit any mistakes. This is a chance to become more aware and mindful of areas that need improvement, without letting your relationship slip into autopilot.
  4. Pay attention to your body. Often before we even identify which emotions we’re experiencing and why we feel that way, our body has its own physiological response. And this response can provide valuable information, as well as some warning signs. For example, if your partner asks you to do something and you notice a slight tightness in your chest or momentary shortness of breath, your body is signaling that that request is stressful and may not really align with what you’re comfortable with. If you fail to pay attention to these signs, you might say yes, only realizing your resentment once it’s too late.
  5. Put your phone away. This is one of the best ways to practice mindfulness. The quickest way to escape the present moment is to whip out your phone and start scrolling. While regularly checking your phone may sound harmless, it can be a major source of distraction, halting connection and communication with your partner. When going on dates or spending quality time together, turn your phone off or leave it in another room.
  6. Do a hobby together. Many hobbies require mindfulness, from creative pastimes like painting to physical activities like bouldering. Sharing a hobby with your partner puts you both in the present moment, enjoying the sights and sensations together. Plus, doing a hobby together makes for great bonding time, away from stress and distraction.
  7. Become a better listener. To be a great communicator, you need to be a great listener first. Truly listening to your partner, without rushing to respond, boosts mindfulness and boosts your relationship. Become a better listener by paraphrasing (repeating, in your own words, what you think the other person said), asking questions, and disconnecting from the judgments or assumptions you have while the other person speaks.
  8. Show appreciation. Your partner probably shows their love in a variety of ways, but do you notice? When you become more mindful in relationships, you learn to recognize acts of kindness and express gratitude for them. If you don’t already, try regularly showing your appreciation. Make a note or set a reminder to thank your partner for at least one thing every day, until it becomes more and more natural. If you want to practice mindfulness in your relationship, this is one of the best ways to do so.
  9. Lead with empathy. Every time you have a knee-jerk response to defend yourself and find fault in others, you’re not being mindful. Instead, you’re reacting out of fear, likely rooted in an experience from your past. To return to the present moment again, imagine what the other person is feeling from their perspective. What do they really need? What are they afraid of? If you were in their position, how would you want to be treated? While it’s important to honor your own feelings, don’t forget to be empathetic towards your partner too.
  10. Make time for nothing. One of the simplest, and simultaneously hardest, ways to practice mindfulness in relationships is to make time for absolutely nothing. You might be used to packing your schedule with work, social events, parties, and exercise classes, but scheduling time for nothing is just as essential. Make regular time for your partner, but refrain from deciding how to fill up that time until it happens. Just being in the moment together beats a fancy dinner date almost every time.
Relationship educator, writer, host of the Relationship Reminders podcast, and mental health advocate hailing from the US and currently based in Tokyo