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Mental and Physical Benefits of Relationships

David Wilson
January 19, 2024

When you talk about relationships, you can immediately picture someone you’re in love with, like your spouse or your partner. In reality, every relationship you hold dear has an impact on your overall health. It could be your parents, friends, or even your pets.

The bond you share with your loved ones is what makes you strong and confident. If you love someone, you naturally gain the strength to stand by them, even if it means fighting against the whole world.

Aside from how good you feel about your relationship, there are numerous benefits of being in a positive and healthy relationship. But, it can work vice versa if there are conflicts and a lack of communication. In other words, a failed relationship may have negative effects on your mental and physical health.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Recent studies conducted in Ireland and the USA indicate that engaging in negative social interactions, particularly within partner relationships, heightens the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.”

Maintaining a positive and genuine relationship requires effort from both sides. But it’s all worth it in the end. Let’s dive into the article to find out how a healthy relationship works its magic through your system.

What Does Healthy Love Look Like?

Being in a healthy relationship is an all-win-win situation for ya. You share the good and bad, split responsibilities, and enjoy perks like 2-for-1 deals and matching costumes. It feels so good having someone to lay your head on their lap at the end of the day.

Working as a team and divvying up house chores like with pets, one manages poop, and the other tackles claws and food. The mental and emotional stability you achieve is incomparable.

For a solid relationship, you need trust, good communication, patience, empathy, affection, adaptability, appreciation, a willingness to learn, respect, and a fair give-and-take (no one wants a one-sided deal!). It’s like building a positive connection where you get to know each other and grow together.

What does love do to your Mind?

Feeling a bit crazy in your relationship? You’re not alone. Your emotions and actions are influenced by the chemicals and neurotransmitters in your brain. Check out the science behind how relationships can have a significant effect on your mental well-being.

Don’t Forget the Happy Hormone

Do you find yourself texting your partner until 3 am in the morning or picking up a surprise gift, even when it’s not Valentine’s Day? It’s like you’d do anything to see that smile on their face because just the sight of them creates this amazing feeling inside you. In short, it makes you “Super-happy”.

In the early stages of falling in love, your system is flooded with dopamine, making everything feel euphoric. 

Being close to your partner triggers those happy hormones, and the dopamine levels go through the roof. You end up wanting to repeat those sweet gestures, and it’s like your brain is wired for that bonding behavior.

The feeling of Safety and Belongingness

From having cool pictures in your mobile gallery to having someone by your side at night, love brings stability and a sense of not being alone in this crazy world. Love isn’t just about the warm and fuzzy stuff. It’s about having someone who supports, respects, and cares for you.

When you’re in a relationship, dopamine isn't the only chemical in action. Oxytocin, aka love hormones, also kicks into high gear, especially when you're physically intimate with your partner.

These love hormones play a role in building trust and adding a special intensity to your relationship. You know that there’s someone out there who knows you even better than you know yourself, and you can freely share your thoughts with them.

Does Being in a Relationship Cure Depression?

Do you feel that you and your partner no longer share the same intimacy as before, or have you both been fighting over minor issues recently? You don’t feel the same way about your partner, and you start to lose interest in activities you both used to do together. 

Well, chances are your depression and your negative thoughts have overtaken you. But staying depressed will do more harm to you than good.

Studies show that - “Being loved helps you reduce depression and anxiety over time,” and according to ASPE, “Getting married and happily maintaining that status can help reduce depression in both men and women.” 

Talk to your partner. Let them know you are going through difficult times. If you have a genuine relationship with your partner, they can pull you out of your misery with just their soothing words. That’s how powerful relationships are!

Lowers The Risk of Dementia

Strong and reliable relations can help reduce the risk of acquiring dementia. But relationships alone can’t prevent it. You have to take into account other factors as well that increase the likelihood of suffering from dementia.

There are stories of people who spend their entire lives in isolation, either by their own choice or cursed by their fate. 

Did you ever notice a cranky old man in your neighborhood? He lives all by himself and has a hateful attitude towards everyone…that’s what loneliness can do to a person. Most people develop acute depression at this stage and later become victims of dementia or Alzheimer's.

There is another study showing that your love hormones (oxytocins) can also help cure these conditions. So, being in a healthy relationship keeps you mentally, even when you're old.

Helps Realize Self-Worth

Being in a romantic relationship makes you feel more socially valued, according to sociometer theory. It can also create a whole new persona of you, making you do things that you thought of as a huge challenge. Plus, finding a partner makes you feel better about yourself, getting you closer to the real YOU!

Being in a good relationship feels great when both partners support and uplift each other. The challenge, however, is to avoid codependency.

Altered Perception of Pain

Love and relationships can affect how you feel pain – it can either make it worse or easier. It’s all about how your brains are wired and how you handle emotions. In short, it shapes how you experience love and react to pain.

Your romantic partner can highly alter your perception of pain. In a study with couples, just thinking about a partner reduced pain in women. Surprisingly, looking at the partner photos worked even better than holding hands.

The idea is that mental boosts from seeing a loved one’s pic can help with pain. So, bringing pics to tough situations might be a good move, especially if the person can’t be there.

Can Relationships Cure Mental Illness

Relationships can have a significant impact on your mental health. There are people who are badly struggling with mental illness, yet they refuse to seek support from their partner. Trying to go solo makes the matter worse. 

If you don't open up to your partner about what’s happening or let them be part of your treatment, you’re basically widening the gap in your relationship. This may also lead to a breakup.

As a result, your relationship experiences a complex stage, and eventually, breakups occur. In a random survey, 74% of individuals who have been a partner to someone with a mental health problem expressed that they weren't bothered and wanted to understand when informed about it. Only 4% of respondents reported feeling afraid in such a situation.

Being loved by someone can truly transform you. Sometimes, their support is the only thing you need to get better. Establish two-way communication with your loved one so that they can be there for you when you need help.

How Does the Relationship Affect You Physically?

Healing Power of Love

Love and a positive relationship can do wonders beyond lifting your spirits. People who are happy and calm are less likely to fall sick after exposure to viruses.

Researchers at Ohio University have found that a regular 30-minute argument between a married couple can delay the body’s wound healing by at least one day due to stress. In addition, hostile couples experienced wound healing at only 60% of the rate observed in pairs with low hostility levels.

Going separate ways is better than living in hell every day with the wrong person. Remember a strong relationship will make you stronger inside out and a weak relationship will act as a slow poison for your body.

Reduce Chances of HeartAttack

Some people believe that relationships make you weak, but in reality, being connected to someone makes you stronger. If you're enjoying a healthy relationship with your partner, you will naturally feel happy and positive in tough situations. On the contrary, conflicts and arguments can negatively affect your heart health. 

According to a study, “Individuals with heart disease who were unmarried exhibited a 52% higher likelihood of experiencing a heart attack or succumbing to cardiovascular problems within a span of nearly four years, in contrast to their married counterparts.”

Even holding hands or hugging can significantly reduce those stress hormones, thereby reducing the chances of heart attacks.

Whether it’s your significant other, family, or even your furry friend, healthy relationships have some serious heart-healthy benefits.

Despite the rare risk of conditions like broken heart syndrome, the overall positive impact of being loved reduces stress and promotes healthy well-being.

Develop Healthy Habits

Did you ever quit smoking because your partner asked you to or went jogging to get some fresh air with your spouse? Relationships can help kick those bad habits out of the door and help you realize what is better for you in terms of health. 

You may once be a nail-biter or a loudspeaker, but everything changes when you’re in a relationship. You don’t wanna look disgusting in front of a partner and opt to take a shower every day that was only possible once a month before. You can enjoy a glass of wine with your partner, but no more binge drinking.

These habits develop because you feel responsible for your partner. You don’t wanna hurt them in any way; therefore, you decide to change yourself for the better. The truth is, your partner can turn you from a bit of a pain to a pretty decent human being.

Reduce High Blood Pressure 

Being attached to someone lowers the stress level and decreases the chances of high B.P. According to NIH, “ When people were really happy in their romantic relationships, their blood pressure dropped big time when hanging out with their partner, not so much in situations without socializing.”

Longer Life

A happy and healthy relationship not only boosts your immune system and lowers blood pressure but also has a significant impact on your lifespan. 

It’s not about the size of your social circle in the digital age; it’s about the number of genuine relationships that surround you.

There is also a study showing that “Good relationships don’t just make us happy; they can also increase our lifespan by about 50%.”

It’s best if unhealthy relationships end at an early stage. Don’t rush into bad relationships because of social pressure. Choose your partner wisely, even if it takes some time. Having a positive spouse not only makes life better but also helps you live longer.

Improved Sleep

There is nothing more relaxing than sleeping next to your partner. When you have that feeling that someone is there to protect you, a safe zone where you don’t have to worry about anyone or anything in the world. Your sleep patterns improve significantly because a person is there to make you sleep like a baby.

Couples even get more of that dreamy REM sleep, which is great for thinking and remembering stuff.

What happens when You're All Alone

Ever felt a bit blue watching couples enjoy parks or movie theaters, wishing you had a companion, too?

It doesn't sound tough to those people who have decided to stay all by themselves, but for others, being lonely is one of their biggest fears.

When you're all alone, stress hormones start to dominate your brain. With every day, you start losing your health because you know no one is there to listen or care for you.

Your anxiety and depression create the feeling of worthlessness and make you more isolated from the world.

How To Improve Social Interaction

  • The first step is to become a good listener. Don't emphasize telling everyone your stories. Instead, listen to what others have to say. 
  • If someone is going through tough times, understand their feelings and respond with sympathy and compassion.
  • Don’t try to be someone you're not. Stay true to yourself if you really wanna get respected.
  • You learn new things every time you meet someone. You learn about different behaviors and habits. Keep those in mind and use them for future interactions.
  • When you appreciate someone for their efforts, it creates a sense of mutual respect. That person will do the same for you.
  • Don’t let distractions get in the way. Stay in conversation and share your useful thoughts and opinions as well.
  • Don't disrespect anyone. Stay within your boundaries. 
  • Find people with common interests as they can prove to be better friends.
  • Maintain eye contact.

Conclusion

Now you know why a healthy relationship is so important in your life. It can seriously make or break you. Everyone makes mistakes while choosing partners, but when you actually find that special person, life becomes simple and beautiful.

The mental and physical benefits of a healthy relationship are immense. From improving your heart health to curing your mental illness, relationships have a way of working their own magic. A genuine relationship can provide the stability you seek in your life. 

So, if you wanna enjoy all these benefits, start valuing the people who truly care about you!

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David Wilson

David Wilson is a skilled clinical psychologist dedicated to enhancing lives through healing and growth. Specializing in empowering clients to overcome challenges, he offers personalized therapy that fosters emotional well-being and resilience. With a compassionate approach, David guides individuals on their journey to discover self-awareness, develop coping strategies, and find lasting happiness. Trusted and revered, he is committed to making a positive impact and nurturing positive change in every life he touches.

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