We are frequently looking for a magic pill to help us feel better or to make us happy.
But there is one thing that consistently proves to be a factor in people’s happiness and well-being: love.
Yes, being in love feels good. But why?
It’s not just the adrenaline-soaked new relationship phase that feels good, either. People in long-term relationships, after that intiial thrill has settled down, also report being happier and feeling better.
In fact, according to WebMD, it’s not the passionate throes of a new relationship that help your happiness and health the most.
As Harry Reis, PhD told WebMD, “There is very nice evidence that people who participate in satisfying, long-term relationships fare better on a whole variety of health measures.”
Though that crush sure can make you happy and give you a little spring in your step … and if love makes you beautiful, too? Well, that’s just an added bonus!
Here are 10 benefits to being in love that make you happier, healthier, wiser and prettier, too.
1. Love gives you more emotional energy.
Emotional love works to lift spirits and leads to better all-around mental health.
According to Diane Dreher, PhD, “Research has shown that ‘relational energy’ can affect our attitude, motivation, vitality, and physical health (Owens, Baker, Sumpter,& Cameron, 2016).”
That means that being with someone who feeds your positive energy can help fuel you to bigger, better things. On the opposite end of the spectrum, being with someone whose negativity is inescapable can really bring your overall energy levels and happiness down.
2. Love makes you look and feel younger.
A happy love life means more smiles and laughter. Research shows that people who stay positive look and feel better as they age than those who don’t.
3. Love makes you more generous, which, in turn, makes you happier.
The most positive things about most people’s day is doing things for or with others.
Positive Psychology teaches us the paradox: Giving is receiving.
What better place to practice “giving and receiving” than in relationships? Loving others allows us to focus on the joys of giving, yet allows us to more graciously accept what is given to us, as well.
4. Love reduces stress.
Being “in love” allows us to accept another person’s influence and assistance, which according to relationships expert and researcher John Gottman, is a big predictor of marital (and relationship) success.
This is particularly important for men, who feel more pressure to be in charge and to be the decision-maker, and so benefit from the reduced stress of sharing the load. In fact, according to Harvard Health, “A major survey of 127,545 American adults found that married men are healthier than men who were never married or whose marriages ended in divorce or widowhood.”
5. Love leads to emotional and spiritual growth.
This kind of growth can occur during a relationship, when our hearts and minds are more open.
Even dealing with a failed relationship can help send us towards a higher personal state, as conquering challenges helps us grow, as people.
6. Love provides a longer, healthier life.
Since 1979, the National Longitudinal Mortality Study has been studying more than a million subjects and found that married people generally outlive unmarrieds.
Moreover, married people have been found to have lower cancer rates and unlikely to suffer pneumonia than singles.
7. Love boosts your immune system and can help you fight viruses.
According to a study published in the Journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology, “Falling in love is associated with up-regulation of Type I interferon response genes” and “is associated with a reciprocal down-regulation of α-defensin-related transcripts.”
“These findings are consistent with a selective up-regulation of innate immune responses to viral infections,” the report says.
That’s a lot of fancy language, but it ultimately means that if this small-sized study is correct, you are less likely to get sick from a virus if you’re in love!
8. Love makes your eyes sparkle.
Your output of adrenaline and other “happiness hormones” goes up when you are in love.
As a result, you feel a buzz throughout your whole body.
Attraction, a key component of being in love, can also make your pupils enlarge, making them look far more dramatic.
If you look at pictures used in advertisements, you will usually see that the models have large pupils. An old study from the 1970s showed that when men are shown two pictures of the same woman: one with small pupils and one with enlarged pupils, they almost always prefer the picture with the large pupils.
Though, interestingly, a more recent study found that women weren’t as attracted to enlarged pupils as men.
9. Love makes your hair shiny.
The increase in hormones that come with being in love means your hair will look shinier and healthier.
Whatever motivation you have for falling in love and building a happy, healthy relationship — health, happiness, or to simply look better — we know that the benefits of relationships and love are huge.
So go forth and enjoy the wonderful benefits of opeining up your heart to others.
10. Love helps you make better choices in your life.
According to a report by Northwestern Medicine, being in a healthy relationship helps you surround yourself with people who are making healthy choices.
So, if you’re in love with someone who is a positive influence on your well-being, you are more likely to choose healthy behaviors yourself.
Ilene Dillon has been a marriage and family counselor for over 40 years, and is a family coach, life coach, and social worker. For more, visit her website.