Finding love and a partner in life is a story as old as human society itself. While love is often unexplainable, that hasn't stopped scientists from attempting to analyze the deeper meanings behind the laws of attraction by trying to find out what makes us tick and why we choose certain partners. But whether you believe that opposites attract or that people often seek others with similar tastes, the one thing that everyone agrees on is that being in love is good for you mentally, emotionally, and physically.
It's easy for those who have never experienced “love at first sight” to dismiss it as just another fantasy, but the fact is the brain releases love-related chemicals in the brain within a split second of eyeing someone you're attracted to. These chemicals—notably dopamine and norepinephrine—trigger a euphoric feeling and may cause those sometimes hasty decisions people make when they are “in love.” Adrenaline racing through your system can also cause your heart rate to rise and make you jittery when you're around the one you love, which is why so many people equate love to a drug; albeit one with more positive benefits to you overall.
Sealed with a Kiss
Kissing can have a wide range of sociological implications. A recent study took survey answers from 900 different adult men and women who were asked about the importance of kissing in relation to both short and long-term relationships. Results showed that kissing may serve as a subconscious test in compatibility. Through the sense of taste and smell, your mind and body may be taking biological cues for compatibility, genetic fitness, and general health. The study also found that the importance of kissing changed depending on whether people were in a short- or long-term relationship. Women rated kissing as more important in long-term relationships because they viewed it as a way of sustaining affection and attachment throughout a relationship.
The Important Role of Intimacy
Besides the emotional pluses that relationships can bring, physical intimacy with your partner has a wide range of health benefits—some of which may come as a surprise. First and foremost, sexual intimacy can be a form of exercise that burns up to five calories a minute. It increases your heart rate, helps lower blood pressure, and balances testosterone and estrogen levels. One study found that men who were intimate with their partners at least twice a week had better overall heart health. It also strengthens the pelvic muscles in women and supports prostate health in men, which can promote healthy urinary function. Intimacy also helps boost testosterone levels and aids a strong libido, increasing your ability and performance. Sexual activity is also good for immune health. Researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that people who were intimate with their partners once or twice a week had higher levels of certain antibodies to boost the immune system than those who didn't. A healthy physical relationship with your partner can also serve as a sleep aid, helping you to relax and fall asleep quicker and easier. And simply snuggling up to your partner can help relieve anxiety and stress because it releases the hormones vasopressin in men and oxytocin in women; “cuddle hormones” that enhance your affection for your partner.
Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
Opening up your heart to another person is one of the greatest things you can do for your own emotional and physical well-being. The euphoria from being in love can help lift your mood and help you view life with “glass half full” perspective. Intimacy with your partner is crucial to bonding, helping to foster a healthier and happier relationship, which can extend to other areas of your health. Besides being good for your heart emotionally, it's actually good for your heart physically, too, as well as your immune system, muscles, hormone levels, and libido. It can help ease daily stress, and boost your mood and self-esteem, all while keeping anxiety at bay. Valentine's Day is one day out of the year that puts the spotlight on your love life, but a healthy relationship is something you should strive to maintain with your partner every day. Intimacy plays a large role in that, so remember to show the one you love how much you appreciate them because the payoffs to your emotional and physical well-being are worth it.