Hollywood, Disney, Instagram, and every other force in pop culture has upheld relationships as the ultimate goal in life, particularly for women. As women shift their focus to self-care and individuality, we’re starting to realize that we don’t actually need relationships to be happy. It’s totally okay to be single, and some people are more comfortable being on their own. That said, there’s no denying that there are quite a few benefits of being in a healthy long-term relationship. You can’t argue with science! Read all about them below.
- Increased self-esteem. Research shows that couples in long-term relationships tend to have higher self-esteem than their single counterparts. It’s easy to see how this happens. When you’ve got a loving partner, they’re likely to praise you and appreciate you on the regular. This can lead you to develop more positive feelings about yourself and build up your self-esteem as a result. Since society places such a strong focus on being in a relationship, it’s also easier to feel like you’re winning at life when you are with someone you love.
- Reduced anxiety. This is reason enough to get into a long-term relationship! According to Psychology Today, there are a number of reasons why people in long-term relationships tend to experience reduced anxiety. One of them is that the secure bond they have with their partner makes them feel like they’ve got a safe place to fall back on if things don’t work out in life. It’s also easier to go through hard times that are typically anxiety-inducing, such as the death of a loved one, when you have a supportive partner by your side. As a result of these effects, people who are married or in a committed relationship actually have lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, a University of Chicago study found.
- Lower chance of mental health issues. It’s not just anxiety that can decrease when you’re in a long-term healthy relationship. Research conducted by the California Health Interview Survey in 2009 found that couples in long-term relationships, both in LGBTQI and heterosexual relationships, had less risk of mental illness than single people. Of course, it’s still possible to experience mental health issues when you’re in a loving relationship. But your chances of suffering from mental illness are lowered when you’re in a healthy relationship.
- Improved overall health habits. Couples in long-term relationships tend to pick up on each other’s behavior over time. In this way, they can end up with improved overall health habits. Of course, that’s if their partners are on top of their health! For example, if your partner goes to the doctor when they’re not feeling well rather than ignoring their symptoms, you’ll be more likely to get regular check-ups too.
- Better health in old age. As if couples who grow old together weren’t cute enough. Science has found that people in happy marriages tend to rate their overall health as higher than singletons and those in unhappy relationships, even in old age. Partners influencing each other to adopt healthy habits might have something to do with this, as does the mental health benefits of being in a long-term relationship.
- Better sleep. You might not sleep as much when you’re in a healthy relationship. Sharing a bed with someone can be trying with the other person is sick, restless, or has chronic sinus issues. While you might not get as much sleep as a person in their own bed, you might get a better-quality sleep. According to a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh (via Insider), people who slept next to their significant other had lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This allowed them to have a better sleep.
- A healthier heart. If any organ is going to benefit from true love, it’s the heart! Research has found that married people are at a lower risk of dying from heart disease than unmarried or divorced people, by about half. This might happen because being in love decreases the body’s stress response. This can then lower blood pressure and reduce stress on the heart. It has also been found that isolation increases blood pressure and heart rate.
- Boosted happiness. Being in a healthy relationship isn’t a prerequisite to happiness. Some people are just happier being single, and that’s totally okay. Everyone is different! From a scientific perspective, though, being in a healthy and supportive relationship over time can boost happiness levels. Multiple studies have found that being in love can affect the body’s levels of oxytocin, which leads to comfort and bonding. So it’s hard to argue with the fact that healthy relationships can indeed enhance a person’s overall happiness.