Relational mindfulness themes in descriptions of intimate encounters across six interpersonal contexts

Douglas L. Kelley, Hannah M. Nichols

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A growing body of research suggests that mindfulness is associated with relational processes and outcomes, including intimate behavior and experience. Yet, substantial questions exist as to interpersonal manifestations of intrapsychic mindfulness. The current study used a qualitative approach to explore participant descriptions of intimate experience, across six interpersonal communication contexts (talk, sex, play, grief, conflict, and forgiveness), for evidence of relational mindfulness themes. Using reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2022) as a guide, analysis produced 10 themes represented by three mindfulness supra-categories: (1) present with - presence, emotional expression, and feeling understood, (2) awareness of - attention, observation, defining, and understanding, (3) nonjudgment by - acceptance, vulnerability, and nonreactivity. All themes were identified in participant responses across the six interpersonal contexts, with the exception of nonreactivity in play and grief. Significantly, these findings broaden the lens with which mindfulness researchers may continue to explore the mindfulness - interpersonal relationship connection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1495-1519
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • interpersonal contexts
  • interpersonal mindfulness
  • intimacy
  • thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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