Some say that love is a drug. And in a way, they’re right.
Think about it: Love can change or enhance sensory perceptions, thought processes and energy levels – which would classify it as a hallucinogen if it really was a drug. One dose can have you “feenin’” like Jodeci, and folks often do all kinds of strange and unwise things to acquire it. But the similarities don’t end there.
Also, like the real thing, the metaphorical drug called, “love” can have a very real effect on your physical and mental health, impacting everything from your mood and stress levels to your immune system, life expectancy, even your actual heart. And in order for the effects to be satisfying, it’s gotta be that strong, that good, that fire – that cheap, “mid” love ain’t gon’ do it.
“There’s no evidence that the intense, passionate stage of a new romance is beneficial to health,” says Harry Reis, Ph.D., co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Human Relationships. Reiss believes love has to mature and crystallize into something potent before it starts being really good to you, because “there is very nice evidence that people who participate in satisfying, long-term relationships fare better on a whole variety of health measures,” Reis continued.
So, for the purposes of this article, the terms “love” and “good love” refer to a satisfying, long-term relationship, not the love du jour.
But how, specifically, does “good love” impact your health, you ask? Let me count the ways…
It all starts with the head, as love’s effects on the brain are numerous.
First off, love triggers the release of two chemicals, dopamine and oxytocin – which might sound dangerous but are totally harmless. Dopamine is the source of the euphoric feeling you get from the very sight of Bae; and oxytocin boosts feelings of attachment, safety and trust, which is why you feel so secure in your person’s arms. When combined, you get a feel-good cocktail that leaves you happier and more relaxed, which, in turn, positively affects things like your stress and anxiety levels. Love can even reduce depression, according to studies reviewed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The ways “good lovin’” can affect your physical health are even more varied, as people in healthy, loving relationships have been found to have lower blood pressure, experience fewer colds, even feel less pain than those in new relationships, bad relationships and no relationships. Of course, the most beneficial physical benefit of “good love” is the effect on the physical ability to have a healthy sex life.
“The heart that is associated with love, that metaphorical heart, directly impacts on our biological heart,” explained Dr. Sandeep Jauhar in a 2019 CNN feature about love and heart health. The feature shared findings from researchers that showed people in loving relationships had less risk of cardiovascular problems, heart disease and inflammation that could be “detrimental to the heart,” according to Jauhar.
“People who have healthy, loving relationships have better heart health,” he said.
So even though finding the right supplier might take a while, once you find one with the real love you’re searching for, you’ll be hooked. And you’ll be much happier and healthier.