The benefits of a good relationship can’t be denied. It’s easy to trudge through a long day at work when you know that you’ll be able to spend time with your partner that coming evening. That sense of comfort and familiarity is the hallmark of every strong relationship. Having an intimate partner doesn’t just have emotional benefits, however – it also has solid health benefits.
Let’s start with the most obvious point: if you’re involved in a healthy and active relationships, your daily stress level is probably lower than it would be if you were single. Having a companion with whom you can share your most intimate feelings and desires allows you to relate to someone else on a level that you normally cannot reach with casual friends. As a single, however, you can’t count on the fact that someone will always be there for you. Even the most intimate of friends maintain a certain amount of personal space between each other. There are certain topics that can’t be discussed comfortably except with a girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse.
Scientific studies have suggested that people involved in healthy relationships experience measurably less stress than their single counterparts. A 2010 study conducted at the University of Chicago concluded that “marriage and social support” relieve stress and discourage the production of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol, while singles of both sexes had correspondingly higher cortisol levels. The lower cortisol levels found in members of committed relationships can be attributed directly to the benefits that a relationship affords. When you have an intimate partner to share your life with, you are less likely to experience prolonged bouts of stress.
The benefits of a committed relationship may also extend into your diet and exercise regimens. As a single, you might just eat whatever is easiest to prepare or most convenient to buy, and those foods are typically less healthy than foods that take more effort to prepare. You may even be completely negligent of your physical health. Those with partners, however, are much more inclined to be observant of health-related factors such as weight, fat and cholesterol intake, and exercise. Any man who has ever tried to impress a woman with his newly-acquired vegetarian diet or his strenuous daily workout ritual can attest to this fact. Your diet is also related to your stress level; many people overeat as a result of stress, and the stress related to being a single may drive such people to eat more than they normally would.
Depending on how serious your relationship is, your arrangement also can improve both your own and your partner’s financial situations by way of resource-sharing. If this is the case, it’s very likely that you will both be able to afford healthier food than you would if you were living alone. It is a sad truth of the modern supermarket that healthier and more nutritious foods tend to be more expensive than their less healthy alternatives. This difference in price is largely due to the costs associated with the foods’ production: food companies that are not as concerned with nutritional content can cut corners in their use of ingredients. In 2012, ABC News revealed that many forms of ground beef available in supermarkets and used in fast food and school lunch hamburgers contained a certain percentage of ammonia-treated filler, which is now stuck with the distinctly unappetizing label “pink slime.” While it might be argued that this and other forms of filler are safe to eat, they are also lacking in nutritional value. Organic, grass-fed beef is very expensive by comparison, but it is higher quality than ground beef and should contain no filler whatsoever. Similar comparisons can be made between cheap fruits and vegetables and their more expensive organic counterparts. The financial stability that comes along with a stable relationship can help you buy such foods without having to empty your wallet at the end of the week.
If you are single, however, don’t simply jump into the next relationship opportunity that presents itself. Despite its health benefits, every relationship involves its own stress in the forms of arguments and misunderstandings between its partners. If you’re involved in a strong and stable relationship, these conflicts should be easy to get through. If you are not happy with your partner, or if there is a lack of compatibility between the two of you, your relationship might actually cause both of you more stress than you would have experienced had you been single instead. Although being involved in a good relationship is better than being single in terms of stress management, therefore, being involved in a bad relationship might actually be worse.