11 Scientific Facts About Romantic Relationships That Made Our Hearts Tingle With Joy
Although maintaining a fulfilling relationship sometimes calls for hard work, all of us strive to enjoy the blissful moments that love has to offer. According to science, being in love may be extremely rewarding — not only emotionally, but also physically. It has the ability to alleviate stress, reduce pain, heal wounds, and a plethora of other unexpected “side effects.”
Bright Side compiled a list of surprising scientific facts about romantic relationships to highlight the amazing benefits of loving and being loved.
1. Couples’ hearts synchronize.
Science has confirmed that 2 hearts indeed beat as one. According to studies, the hearts of couples who have been together for a long time subconsciously sync up when the couple is close to each other. By using electronic monitoring devices, scientists from the University of Illinois recorded and measured the pulses of 10 senior couples in long-term relationships.
The researchers found that when in close proximity, one person in each couple affects the other’s heart rate, and vice versa, in a complex dance. However, the study doesn’t reveal any clear patterns underlying the shifts: ’’We found each day is a unique context that changes depending on circumstances. Couple interactions, their attitudes, behaviors, whether they’re close to each other or far away, change all the time,’’ explains researcher, Brian Ogolsky.
2. Love is chemically addictive.
According to biological anthropologist, Helen E. Fisher, romantic love is a ’’very powerfully wonderful addiction when things are going well." When we fall in love, our brain releases hormones that can make us feel euphoric, which is a feeling that we can get hooked on. Researchers explain that this happens because the dopamine reward system in our brain is triggered by romantic love, just as it’s activated by other addictive behaviors. A 2016 study even compares romantic love to “natural addiction.”
3. Being in a loving relationship lowers blood pressure.
It turns out that happily married couples keep each other healthy. Some research suggests that a fulfilling marriage can make your blood pressure dip, making your heart healthier. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, has been linked to numerous health conditions, like heart disease and stroke.
According to one study that involved 204 married and 99 single men and women, simply being happily married contributes to low blood pressure. But the study suggests that single people are healthier than their unhappily married counterparts. So, being married, per se, is not beneficial on its own, rather, the satisfaction and feeling of well-being associated with the relationship is what counts.
4. It also cuts headache frequency in half.
When we are in love, our brain overflows with a happiness hormone called oxytocin. In research conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine subjects with chronic headaches were given a nasal spray spiked with this “love hormone.”
The study found that 50 percent of participants reported their headache to be cut in half after a couple of hours, with an additional 27 percent reporting being completely pain-free in the same timeframe. According to other studies, being physically intimate with your partner has the power to reduce or completely relieve headaches in people who experience migraines.
5. Compassion changes your brain chemistry.
Numerous pieces of evidence suggest that compassion and kindness trigger positive brain changes not only in the receiver, but also in the giver. ’’Compassion increases activity in the brain centers connected with empathy and positive emotions, reduces the activity of our fear centers, and makes our brains more interconnected," Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. explains.
Compassion activates the same areas of the brain involved in reward processes, releasing ’’the happiness hormone’’ oxytocin. These reward-related effects produce changes ranging from slight mood elevation to intense euphoria and pleasure.
6. Love can be a powerful painkiller.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine discovered that the warm and fuzzy feeling of being in love triggers the same response in the brain as painkillers (minus the harmful potential side effects). Researchers involved in the study took MRI scans of participants in happy romantic relationships.
Interestingly, they found that people who viewed images of their partners had increased activity in the brain regions associated with reward, suggesting that being in love may reduce the experience of physical pain.
7. Being in a relationship makes you a better person.
It seems that a little bit of love can turn even the most pessimistic people into optimists, at least according to some studies. After following 245 young couples for 9 months, scientists found that being in a loving relationship made pessimistic partners more self-confident and optimistic, presumably thanks to all the positive feelings and experiences connected with the relationship. It is also not uncommon for people in a healthy relationship to reduce their bad habits, which is another way of improving their personality.
8. Loving from a long-distance actually strengthens the bond.
You may have heard people say that long-distance relationships won’t work, but science says otherwise. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Communication found that not only are long-distance relationships just as successful as regular ones, but they are also more efficient in building satisfaction and trust between partners. Many couples even credit a period of long-distance communication as the foundation for a stronger relationship.
9. Men fall in love faster than women.
Despite the widespread belief that women are more emotional, some studies suggest that it’s actually men who tend to fall in love quicker and say, “I love you” sooner. Though the reason behind this couldn’t be confirmed, scientists theorize that this is perhaps because women are more cautious of being hurt and getting their hearts broken.
10. Love makes wounds heal faster.
The power of a positive relationship can be so strong that it can make even physical wounds heal faster. In an interesting study conducted at the Ohio State University Medical Center, researchers gave married couples blister wounds. The wounds healed nearly twice as fast in partners who had a warm and close interaction, compared with those who demonstrated hostility toward each other.
11. The butterflies will go away eventually, and that’s okay.
According to scientists, that sweet, fluttery feeling you get in your stomach when you have a crush on someone isn’t a sign that you’ll be together forever, but just a physiological response to seeing your love interest: ’’The butterflies feeling is partially your body saying I’m stressed, but I’m motivated to do something or see this person again,’’ doctor Nicole Prause explains.
Over time, as the couple spends more time together, the feeling of nervousness will wear off, and that’s completely normal: “True love is a well-being experience that does not include nervousness or excitement,” neuroscientist Nicole Gravagna, points out, adding that the mood-boosting neurotransmitters dopamine and endorphins become ’’only mildly elevated compared to the pre-relationship level," which is usually after 5 years in a relationship.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest benefit of being in a loving relationship? Let’s talk about it in the comments.