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Mindful dating: how practising self-awareness can help your relationship, according to experts

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Megan Murray
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Mindful dating

We asked a relationship expert how a deeper level of self-awareness could benefit our dating game and future relationships. 

Mindfulness – we don’t have to tell you it’s the buzzword of the moment. From mindful shopping (which discourages us from impulse buys and fast fashion) to mindful holidays (more of us are ditching boozy benders for breaks that promote self-care), it feels like this wellness term is creeping into many aspects of our lives. 

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Buzzword may it be, the emphasis that mindfulness puts on thinking deeper into the decisions we make does seem to do a lot of good, helping us to make better, more informed choices that are true to who we are.

So it was only a matter of time, then, until the dating world got a dose of mindfulness, which in this case we’re describing as a deeper level of self-awareness.

You see, self-awareness is a quality that is developed throughout our lives and helps us to understand and therefore react to how we’re feeling, and recognise what we really want. Two things that can be game-changers when dating. 

We spoke to Dr Georgina Barnett, Head Psychologist at luxury dating agency Seventy Thirty, about why self-awareness is so important and how we can practise it in a way that incorporates easily into our lives, to make dating easier and more effective.

Dr Barnett says: “People with self-awareness tend to have firm beliefs and values, and are open to different views and secure enough to change their mind and acknowledge when they are wrong. They also have the best relationships as they are in tune with their own motivations and faults.”

Self-awareness is a personal thing, as Dr Barnett explains it helps you to “tune into what’s really going on for you,” but this is a crucial factor when introducing someone else into your life or if you’re trying to make an existing relationship work.

We asked Dr Barnett how best to master the art of mindfulness in a dating capacity and in what situations it’s most helpful.

What you can do each day

“Monitor your thoughts – don’t let yourself talk negatively. Your unconscious mind is always paying attention to what you say. Even if you are soothing yourself by saying ‘I don’t need to feel nervous about talking to my partner’, you are heightening your awareness of the fact that you’re feeling nervous in the first place. 

So think as positively as you can. Try saying to yourself instead, ‘This conversation will be a good learning experience.’ It works much better. Leave self-deprecation to other people – being negative about yourself or your relationship may make others laugh, but it’s not the best approach in terms of strengthening self-confidence.”

What you can do each week

“Make time to visualise what you want out of life and your relationships. You may be dreaming of marriage, or rekindling a lacklustre relationship, or something else entirely. 

Spend time visualising your goal and watch yourself living that goal on a movie screen inside your head (as though it has already happened). 

By doing this, you will become more familiar with what you seek. Research has shown that the more we identify with our goals, and the more detail we give them, the more likely we are to achieve them.”

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What you can do each month

“Reward yourself – everyone responds well to rewards! Do this for the joy of treating yourself and your partner well and because you are tuning into what you both need. Think about when you should treat yourself and your relationship. 

Reward yourself only when you have done something positive towards your goal or tried very hard at something. Be honest with yourself and give yourself genuine positive encouragement as you strive to reach your goals and live in accordance with your values. 

Be sure to find a reward that works for you or, if it’s a relationship goal, a joint reward. Even a small reward, such as saying something nice to yourself, works – it costs nothing and makes you feel good.”

What you can do each year

“Review old goals and set new ones. Goal-setting is great when we set goals that we genuinely want: goals that are realistic, positive and meaningful. Setting meaningful goals is something everyone should do regularly. Why? Because goals focus our attention and direct our efforts (and, when tied in with a reward, research shows that we become much more persistent, too). 

However, it is crucial to set realistic goals that are achievable. The goal should be within your control.

If you are feeling low about yourself, you might have negative thoughts, such as ‘My partner does not love me enough’. People with high self-esteem, on the other hand, are likely to focus on the positive aspects of themselves. 

This means they are more likely to inject positivity into the relationship, generating a higher sense of commitment from both partners and increasing their overall well-being. Self-awareness is the key to knowing where you fall on the spectrum.

Changing the way that you see things through self-awareness will also affect how others see you, causing a virtuous cycle rather than the destructive one you may be stuck in now. 

So many people lead their lives reactively rather than truly tuning into the reality of a situation, of our habits, of our state of mind. All personal and relationship successes start with self-awareness.”

Images: Getty

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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