Aside from having someone to help with washing the dishes, the positive benefits of being in a committed, long-term relationship are wide and varied. Sure, there’s nothing better than a night on the town or being able to sit in your pajamas all Saturday in perfect solitude while watching Friends, but in the end sharing really is caring – for yourself.
Most importantly, in this frantic time of long work hours and everyday hustling, love appears to tame the wilder edges of stress.
A study conducted by the University of Chicago found that being in a committed relationship is linked with less production of the stress hormone cortisol. “Marriage and social support can buffer against stress”, wrote study researcher Dario Maestripieri in the journal Stress.
Being close to your partner, emotionally as well as physically – think touching and hugging, can also help release one of your body’s natural “feel-good hormones”, dopamine. According to some studies kissing your loved one promotes bonding by releasing dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres.
Manage your stress with love.
Naturally, it doesn’t just stop with hugging. Research has shown that people who have regular sex are healthier. A study of 3000 Americans aged 57 to 85 showed that those who were having sex rated their general health higher than those who weren't. Sex is also good for your heart. “Anything that exercises your heart is good for you, including sex,” notes the National Health Service of the United Kingdom.
Married couples also seem to be healthier than their single counterparts. Married people are less likely to have heart attacks, experience less psychological distress and tend to recover better after surgery. Plus, if you live with an active and healthy significant other, you’re more likely to be active and healthy too.
The secret to a healthy, happy life appears to be finding someone to share it with.