How can love bring happiness

Positive Psychology: How Relationships Make Us Strong

Lonely people release more stress hormones

According to long-term studies, loneliness is primarily linked to increased cortisol levels in the morning: Using the values ​​on a loneliness scale, researchers were even able to predict how much of the hormone their test subjects would probably have in their blood the next morning - regardless of other factors such as demographic variables, nervousness or perceived stress. In this way, the burden of being alone for some people could perhaps increase the risk of certain complications, such as cardiovascular disease.

Experimental animal studies support the assumption that loneliness is the cause here. As studies on monogamous prairie voles show, it is apparently indeed social isolation that causes an increase in stress hormone levels. They also point out that it plays a key role from whom the animals are separated. The separation from the partner seems to have a particularly strong effect, while the separation from "less important" conspecifics such as siblings does not cause increased tension.

According to numerous studies, a good relationship with others goes hand in hand with better health - not least because people close to us also influence our health-related behavior, researchers believe. Our partners also play a special role in this, as they can motivate and support us to move more, give up unhealthy vices or simply go to the doctor more often and have preventive medical checkups. The relationship status and the quality of a love relationship are strong predictors of whether someone will reach old age.

Even in childhood, relationships with our fellow human beings could be central, explains Holt-Lunstad. If you have a good connection with your parents as a child, you are also better able to regulate your emotions as an adult, for example. In addition, the people concerned go through life more safely, feel less threatened by stress and live more healthily on average. In 2016, scientists working with Anne Gadermann from the University of British Columbia in Canada examined more than 5,000 fourth graders. In doing so, they discovered that the feeling of belonging among their peers, but also good relationships with the adults in their environment, were clearly related to a high level of life satisfaction on the part of the students. At the same time, socially well-integrated children felt healthier.

The authors suspect that friendships with people of the same age in particular could have a positive effect on children's health behavior. Being recognized by other adolescents builds confidence and makes them feel in control. This could motivate them to start a team sport, which in turn is good for their health.

Those who feel they belong also see more meaning in their life. This is shown by a study from 2013, in which the researchers asked their test subjects to think of two or more people they really felt they belonged to. Psychologists also call this "priming". The test subjects then had to provide information about how much importance they attached to their lives. Participants who had previously gone through the priming procedure viewed their existence as more meaningful than a control group who should not have thought about their positive relationships with others.