Love is no doubt one of the greatest feelings in the world, and if you have ever doubted its strengths, here are six reminders as to why it has been given such an important stature in our lives:
1. It Keeps Couples Faithful
While some may say love is blind, researchers at UCLA prefer to describe it as wearing blinders. The study looked at 120 heterosexual college students in a committed relationship. They were asked to describe their current relationship, and then rate a group of photos depicting very attractive members of the opposite sex. What they found was that students who described their relationship as loving, were six times less likely to rate a ‘hottie’ as attractive, and even more surprising, they seemed to pay more attention to the background of the photos, rather than the subject. Researchers think this could be related to our adaptation over the centuries to commit to one long-term partner, rather than straying as soon as the next best thing came along.
2. It Protects Our Hearts
Scientists at Yale University conducted a study surveying 119 men and 40 women, asking them about their current state of relationship and family, before being given a series of angiography (heart) tests. What researchers found was that participants who reported their lives as the most loving and supportive, were less likely to exhibit heart conditions (blockages, etc). While genetics, diet, and proper nutrition are undoubtedly important for maintaining a long, healthy life, it appears that maintaining strong intimate relationships may be just as important. If you (or a loved one) are currently suffering from a heart condition, perhaps it’s time you look at your/their relationships for any sign of loneliness or social isolation.
3. It Protects Our Health
We’ve discussed how love effects the heart, but research also shows how much spending time with loved ones can affect our overall well-being. A study conducted by the University of Chicago, looked at the health of married, working men who either spent a lot of free time with their non-working wives, or had to juggle that time between her own full-time job. What was found was that men who enjoyed spending the most time with their wives, reported the best overall health. How much better? Research showed that men who spent significantly less time with their spouse saw their health drop about 25 percent below other men in the study. Is this study suggesting women shouldn’t work? No. But it is saying we should prioritize whatever time we have to spend with our loved ones.
4. It Promotes Infinite Love
According to studies conducted at the U.C. Berkeley, sharing love with others makes us feel more loved through a chemical reaction in our brain. Whenever we smile, hug, or hold hands with a loved one, we are releasing the chemical oxytocin, which allows us the ability to connect with others on a very compassionate level. This connection makes it more likely we will continue to display this affection, thus perpetuating the shared feelings of love with those around us, over and over again. In other words, love others, and you will be loved.
5. It Is Important to Early Childhood Development
We have heard the importance of newborns being held and touched to survive, but many studies suggest that early moments of love and bonding between a newborn and mother decide a child’s overall ability to love. Babies who do not experience a strong attachment to their mother within their first month or so, may be at a disadvantage in fostering a successful, loving relationship. Reason being, the connections in the brain and nervous system that enable us to love are developed early in life, so it is very important to give children lots of love now, so they can give and receive it later on. In addition, some research suggests that our first love experience shapes the way we look at love for the rest of our lives, or at least heavily influences it. So make your first one a good one.
6. It Is More Important Than Sex
Sex is not as big a part in relationships as some couples think. While some researchers claim love is nothing more than a sexual high stimulated by the release of chemicals in the brain, researchers at the University of New York claim that the brain indeed appears to perceive a difference between love and sex. Noting what portion of the brain was active when subjects were given a sexually stimulating photo, subjects were then given a photo of their partner, comparing the difference in brain activity. While a similar portion of the brain was activated while looking at a loved one, it was overlapped by an entirely different portion of the brain, suggesting a more complex (dare I say, important) connection. Love and romance indeed appear to be more important than some scientists give them credit for.
So let’s hear it for love! It surrounds our lives, keeps us healthy, happy, faithful, protected, and able to connect and share this wonderful feeling with others. So, don’t be stingy … pass it on!