Making time for self-care as an individual is super important for your own personal growth, but this can often feel tricky to balance when we’re emotionally and physically involved with another person.
Luckily new research has emerged to help provide insight on how actively paying attention to, and nurturing healthy mindfulness patterns, can help you and your partner create a stronger, more secure romantic bond.
A new study released by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships provided insight on mindfulness can definitely support your and shift attachment style journey. The research was based on information from 100 couples in long-term relationships (87 heterosexual, nine lesbian, one gay, and three non-binary), in which the mindfulness and attachment style insights of each were regularly reported and recorded over a period of almost three months.
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The scientists defined relationship mindfulness as “an open attention and awareness to what is happening with a given partner in a current relationship,” meaning that if you want to practice more mindfulness in your own relationship, you’ll have to be more open with your partner in general, while also doing some inner digging yourself to really make it work.
What are attachment styles?
Romantic attachment styles manifest themselves in a variety of ways. If you have a dismissive attachment style (also known as an avoidant style), you might be very confident, self-sufficient, and feel as though you’re competent and worthy of love, but you probably struggle with trusting and making deep connections with partners.
On the flip side, a person with fearful attachment style may seem distant, have low self-esteem, need more space, take a long time to respond to your texts or phone calls, and seem withdrawn.
These styles are often related to how love was shown to us in the past, through our parents or early partners, for example. It’s hard work, and takes time, but it is possible to work through previous traumas and adjust your attachment style. And according to this new research, mindfulness may be a way to help.
Mindfulness can decrease attachment anxiety
If you’re able to bring more mindfulness into your relationship, you’ll likely begin to feel less anxiety overall — especially in terms of your attachment style. Many people in relationships feel dependent on their partner, and the study asked participants to record how they felt about being alone.
The research found that “greater mindfulness is consistently correlated with lower attachment anxiety and avoidance.” When mindfulness was more present in the relationship, anxious statements such as, “I find myself doing things without paying attention” and “I worry about being alone” were less and less of an issue, especially as time went on.
Empathy helps decrease attachment avoidance
Mindfulness can help individuals develop their relationship empathy skills as well, which can help decrease judgmental thoughts and negativity overall. The study found that general mindfulness could help shift one’s attachment anxiety, but that “relationship mindfulness is uniquely and indirectly tied to change in attachment avoidance through empathy.”
This is important because empathy is a healthy way for couples to feel closer to each other, through things like active listening, without feeling too dependent on the other for happiness and security.
Obsession doesn’t equal mindfulness
Mindfulness means keeping the other person in mind, but not constantly on your mind. Otherwise, your relationship could become obsessive, which is unhealthy.
“Being attentive toward one’s partner and relationship and having a partner who is mindful in the relationship soothes the need to become overinvolved with relational concerns,” the study surmised from its results. However, the study also stated that there didn’t seem to be any correlation between relationship preoccupation, mindfulness and attachment, especially in terms of positive reactions.
So while it’s ok to daydream about your partner, there’s still work to be done about whether or not it contributes to mindfulness and attachment anxiety.
Mindfulness can shape a relationship for the better
We probably don’t need a study to help us realize that mindfulness can create a more positive relationship experience, but it does help that research is out there to support the concept, and help us develop these healthy skills.
The study findings also point to the fact that mindfulness could help change your relationship style overall, so it’s worth looking into especially if you’ve experienced relationship trauma in the past. You can try taking a social media break to be more present, or work with a therapist on how to overcome these issues.