Finding a lasting relationship feels good. But its good for you too.
Not just physically, but mentally as well.
How you ask? In these 5 ways:
- Love makes you happy: when you first fall in love, dopamine, the feel-good brain chemical associated with reward, is especially active. That is a mood intensifier, so people feel extremely positive and very appreciated, hence that “on cloud nine” feeling you get in the throes of a new relationship.
- Love busts stress: after the honeymoon phase subsides, all of that dopamine starts to share real estate with another brain chemical: oxytocin, or the bonding hormone. That not only gives you “warm and fuzzy” feelings for your partner, but it can also be good for your health. When people feel securely attached, their stress levels go down.
- Love eases anxiety: quite a few studies have pointed to ways that loneliness can hurt your health, from increasing inflammation to activating pain centers. The feeling of loneliness stimulates anxiety, which is mediated by different neurotransmitters, like norepinephrine. Also, cortisol and adrenaline levels rise when people feel insecure and threatened, which triggers your body’s stress response. Being in love and feeling close to another person can mitigate anxiety.
- Love makes you take better care of yourself: the benefits of love aren’t all in your head. Couples encourage each other to go to the doctor when they don’t want to. There’s a lot of denial around medical illness, and individuals are more likely to shrug off something and say, ‘This can’t be serious.’ Sometimes, partners will even notice signs of allergies or other persistent health problems before the sufferer does.
- Love helps you live longer: research has shown that married couples enjoy greater longevity than singles — making “’til death do us part” even more of a commitment. Studies suggest those long-life benefits are largely explained by consistent social and emotional support, better adherence to medical care and having a partner who can hold you accountable to healthy lifestyle behaviors and steer you away from bad ones. Married couples have been found to have lower rates of substance abuse, lower blood pressure and less depression than single peers.
But there’s also good news for the unattached. In 2010, a review of 148 studies found that longevity benefits were linked to all close social relationships, not just romantic ones — meaning your friends and family are good for your health, too.