When you’re officially off the market and settled into a comfortable relationship, you may be more apt to let yourself go— to wear sweatpants and eat ice cream on the couch with your significant other.
You’ve found someone who loves you unconditionally, so why bother, right? Although your suspicion that a happy relationship could be bad for your waistline is partially correct, there is actually more evidence that suggests a healthy partnership is good for your health.
While numerous studies have linked stress from a bad relationship to a higher risk of heart disease— and even death— healthy relationships can reduce those risks, while boosting life satisfaction and, according to some experts, your net worth.
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We’re not talking strictly about heterosexual married couples, either, says Timothy J. Loving, an associate professor in human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin and co-founder of Science of Relationships.
“It’s not the marriage certificate” that bestows the benefits, he says. “We’ve seen very similar benefits in same-sex couples after accounting for things like discrimination and different societal support. And we’ve seen it in people in nonmarried cohabiting relationships as well.”
“We do know that individuals in positive relationships appear to live longer, [and] are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease and some of those things,” Loving says. “What we know less about are the biological mechanisms underlying that.”