How Love Affects Our Health
Love is more than just what songs and poems are all about. Love changes us. From brain chemicals being released to pheromones and heart rates, love has the power to significantly affect our mindset, our mood and yes, even our health.
Love is Addictive
Quite literally, we can get addicted to the feeling of being in love. Being in love is when the brain releases intoxicating amounts of dopamine into our system. Dopamine is one of the “feel good” chemicals we naturally produce in certain situations. When you find yourself attracted to one person in particular, your brain will release a bunch of dopamine whenever you see or even think about that person. As a result, you very quickly grow attached to both the chemical release and the person who ignites it. The better we feel, the more energetic we become and thus driven to do things like lead a more active lifestyle, which is by far healthier than a sedentary one.
Another Brain Chemical: Oxytocin
Oxytocin is a brain chemical that calms us and promotes intimate bonding. It is also found in new mothers to aid in bonding with their babies. When romantic partners bond by hugging, touching and kissing, chances are that both people experience the effects of oxytocin. When you are in the mood to stay in and cuddle with your partner, that bonding promotes intimacy and reassurance, both of which are also effects of this powerful chemical endorphin.
Here’s an Interesting Fact
Testosterone, which is primarily a male hormone, drives sexual urges in both men and women. Trace amounts of the powerful hormone can be found in the saliva of a sexually charged male, so when he kisses his romantic partner, they receive a boost of the hormone as well. Being well-balanced hormonally is much healthier than being over or underproductive. Experiencing sexual desire on a regular basis is a sign that your hormones are in check, and healthy.
Normally we hear the word “stress” and, well, we stress. But in the case of physical attraction and romantic feelings, the stress hormone norepinephrine is what makes our hearts beat faster, our palms get sweaty, cause us to blush more easily and stumble over words more. So technically it’s stress, but it’s the kind of stress we don’t mind going through if it means we get to spend time with the person who makes us feel good.
Pheromones are chemicals we each have that are specific to us individually. So when you are attracted to another person, their pheromones are very easy for you to detect and doing so is very pleasurable. Our clothing and personal items smell like “us” and therefore triggers pleasure between romantic partners. If we are healthy, our pheromones send chemical messages to the other person which indicates a sexual attraction.
More Health Benefits of Being in Love
There have been countless studies done on the effects of being in love with regard to our health. Research shows that those of us in loving relationships have a higher life expectancy as compared to single people. People in healthy relationships feel more supported and therefore have higher self-esteem than those that are single. People with higher self-esteem are at a much lower risk for depression than people with low self-confidence. Studies also show that people in intimate relationships adopt safer, less risky behaviors, and that being in a loving relationship with a trusted partner significantly reduces feelings of insecurity and anxiety.
Friends vs. Lovers – Advantage?
Similar health benefits are experienced with people who have a lot of friendships, but the brain chemicals and endorphins released in romantic relationships are unique and much more powerful. Having friends is very important to our health, especially for support in stressful situations, but the body chemistry and brain functionality is different when you’re in love than it is when you’re with friends.
The bottom line is this: being in love is good for us. In love we feel more energized, more motivated and our desire to set and achieve goals increases. In essence, we are healthier when we are in love.