5 Surprising Health Benefits of Romantic Love

Beyond the excitement of new love, studies show that being in a loving relationship can strengthen our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

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From teenage puppy love to second marriages with blended families, love is what makes the world go round. But aside from that initial rush when we first fall head over heels for someone, studies have shown that the power of love goes far beyond boosting our mood. From strengthening our hearts and lungs to lowering stress, and even extending our lifespans, the incredible power of love goes farther than we may expect. Whether you’re married or in a long-term romance, being in love in a stable, secure partnership can strengthen your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. 

1. A healthier heart

The heart is commonly known as the “love” organ, and it’s been proven that there’s an actual physical correlation between romantic love and heart health. It may sound too good to be true, but scientific evidence backs up the fact that love leads to a stronger and more robust heart. 

A four-year study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed some stunning conclusions - namely, that unmarried people suffering from heart disease were a whopping 52 percent more likely to experience a major cardiac event, like a heart attack, or die from cardiovascular issues, than married people with chronic heart issues.

The same study found that married people who had heart attacks had a 14 percent lower risk of dying and spent an average of two days less in the hospital than their unmarried peers. These incredible statistics illustrate just how big an impact love has on our heart health.

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2. A longer life

In 2010, medical journal PLOS Medicine published a wide-sweeping analysis of the effects of loving relationships on people’s health, based on data gathered from a staggering 148 studies that tracked over 300,000 patients.

The study concluded that participants who were married or in committed relationships had a stunning 50 percent higher chance of being alive at the end of the study, compared to unpartnered people. There are very few things that can extend your lifespan by 50 percent; one of the only comparisons that experts can make is that being in a serious partnership has the same positive effect on your health as a chainsmoker giving up cigarettes! 

While we tend to think of love as something that strictly affects our emotional wellbeing, it’s clear that love also critically boosts our overall health. The positive impact of having love in your life can’t be overstated.

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3. Strong love, strong lungs

While it makes sense that a strong love connection bolsters heart function, there are other organs that are strengthened by being in love. Surprisingly, it’s been proven that your lungs are a huge beneficiary of a healthy love life. 

According to Dr. Baran Kilical, cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist at Anne Arundel Medical Center, being married or having a loving partner lessens the risk of complications and death from pneumonia. Married or seriously partnered people have a 13 percent lower risk of dying during a hospital stay due to pneumonia, are significantly less likely to need breathing support (like a ventilator), are not as likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, and overall, spend less time in the hospital than unmarried folks.

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4. Natural stress relief

It’s common knowledge that when we first fall in love, we get a nice dose of dopamine and oxytocin that give us that “floating on a cloud” feeling. However, as that initial passion settles down, our body’s hormones are still positively affected by the presence of a loving partner.

Studies have consistently found that nonverbal affection, better known as physical touch, can lower levels of stress hormones within the body. If you’ve ever had a rough day at work and your partner comforted you with a hug, you’ve likely experienced this.

And the positive effects of love on your hormones aren’t strictly limited to stress relief in tough situations. Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol are closely linked with obesity, fatigue, and a weakened immune system. People in long-term partnerships usually have lower cortisol levels than single people. 

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5. A partner keeps the doctor away?

Dr. Harry Reis, co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Human Relationships, reviewed a plethora of studies on marriage and health, and reports that married people on average have less acute emergency room visits and shorter-than-average stays in the hospital. Dr. Reis theorizes that “the best logic for this is that human beings have been crafted by evolution to live in closely knit social groups. When that is not happening, the biological systems ... get overwhelmed.”

However, there’s another explanation why those with solid romantic relationships end up taking care of themselves better than singletons: a nagging (or should we say concerned?) spouse. 

A spouse can help keep you accountable. If you’re a natural couch potato, your partner may force you to go outside and take a walk. Your spouse may pester you to go to the dermatologist to get that weird mole checked out, which you’d probably ignore if you were single. The doctor’s visit that your spouse insisted on could end up leading to early detection of a more serious issue.

Spouses can motivate us to practice good self-care. Even if you roll your eyes in the moment, your spouse’s nagging may end up saving your life!

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