Love, what is it good for?


There is a strong relationship between love and health. Not only does love make you feel more connected to those around you, but love can actually make you live longer.

Back in the 1990’s there was a large study done on the relationship between marriage and mortality. There were some, perhaps, more obvious conclusions like; married people reported feeling more supported and financially stable. But, there was an emotional conclusion too, more married couples reported feeling less isolated. Loneliness has been linked to “all cause mortality-dying for any reason.” Marriage seems to protect against loneliness, and thus-death.

Long, stable, committed relationships seem to have a lasting, positive effect on our lives.  When we are around people we love, we feel less anxious, less depressed. Humans are social creatures. We crave bonding and attachment with others. Our brains are wired to connect. When we cuddle, have sex, engage in social interactions (just to name a few,) our brains release a chemical called oxytocin. Oxytocin is long known as the “love hormone.” It helps our brain create connections with others; and once we bond with someone, we want more because it feels good.

Love has been associated with less doctor visits. When we have strong family connections and ties to those around us, we have people who are more encouraging of healthier lifestyles. No one wants to see their loved one sick, and over time these small encouragements can add up to a healthier lifestyle.

Love helps control pain. There have been studies done where subjects have undergone electric shock. The study found that people, who were holding the hand of their partner, showed less activation in the area of the brain that processes pain and stress. Pain and stress management are a growing concern in this day and age. The closer we are to our partners, the more supported we feel. Feeling supported helps us cope with life’s stresses more efficiently.

The greatest, most obvious benefit of love is happiness. We have all heard “you can’t buy happiness” and it’s true. The correlation between love and happiness is greater than the correlation between happiness and a high income. Basically, connections and feelings of support aid in our overall wellbeing, in a way that money (or anything else) can’t.

So, if on this Valentine's Day, you're feeling like the love is lacking, here are a few tips that you can do right now to foster those loving feelings:

·      Say “I love you.”

·      Give a hug and kiss

·      Hold hands

·      Celebrate success with your loved one

·      Make eye contact and smile

·      Express gratitude

So, love-what is it good for?