Our relationship status can play a huge role in how we define ourselves socially. Relationship status’ are constantly updated and monitored via social media websites, and whatever relationship status we are in can to a certain extent determine how we spend our free time, or a Friday night. However, relationship status doesn’t just play a role in our social lives, but also every aspect of our daily lives as well. Ever wondered why being in a relationship can make you feel so good – or bad? Read on to find out.
1. People in loving relationships generally have fewer mental health problems
In a study conducted by Florida State University, (2010) over 1,620 college students were observed to see which group suffered more mental health problems – the group in a committed relationship, or the single group. The study showed that students who were in a loving, committed relationship experienced significantly lower rates of mental health problems – such as depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and mood disorders – than singles did. In fact, the study also showed that college students that were single, with a wide selection of sexual partners were more likely to suffer mental health problems than any other group. Researchers think that this is because people can generally talk through their problems and worries with their partners, and to seek support and reassurance from them.
2. Married couples are more likely to live longer lives
Many studies have been conducted around the question of what can help us live a longer life. Surprisingly, an answer that has consistently appeared is marriage. In a study conducted by the U.S Bureau of the Census, (2000) 281,460 people over the age of 45 were observed to answer whether being married or non-married would increase peoples’ chances at a longer life. The study showed that non-married people had a significantly higher risk of death over the study period than their married counterparts, even after compensating for socio-economic status. Don’t think that these results were only relevant towards the USA, other countries like Britain and the Netherlands showed similar results in their own separate studies. Furthermore, the benefits of long life were not only available to happily married couples, but also to divorced singles too. Although the reasons are difficult to determine, researchers think that it is due to factors like a more extensive social network.
3. Marriage is good for the heart
In what has been dubbed the largest study to ever look at the link between heart health and relationship status, the study held at New York University Lagone Medical Center, between the years 2003 and 2008, has yielded interesting results. The study took results from a sample group of 3.5 million American adults, with an average age of 64 years. The results showed that married people had a 5 percent lower risk of heart disease than single people. Furthermore, it also surmised that widowed people had a 3 percent higher chance of heart disease, while divorced people had a 5 percent higher risk, compared to married people. Researchers’ believe that the increased risk in divorcees and widows/ widowers, was due to factors such as increased rates of obesity, smoking, and diabetes.
4. Movies can be used to assess acceptability of domestic violence in relationships
The movies that we watch today often tackle compelling and relevant issues in our society. Due to the startlingly high rates of domestic violence– around 30 percent globally – domestic violence is represented widely through film. A study conducted at the University of Valencia tested 245 (189 female and 55 male) psychology students from the University, and 94 known domestic violence offenders, serving time in prison. Each of the participants were shown film extracts from well-known films that portray instances of domestic violence, such as The Colour Purple and Sleeping with the Enemy. They were then tasked with stopping the clip when they judged that the scene had become too violent. The longer it took for the participant to stop the clip, the more accepting/ conditioned they were to domestic violence. The results showed that – unsurprisingly –the domestic violence offenders had higher acceptability of partner violence than the students. Within the student group, the males generally had higher acceptability of partner violence than their female counterparts. What this can tell us about the films we watch, is that they can affect how accepting we are about certain issues.
5. Difficult relationships are constant stressors
In the same way that healthy relationships can buoy you up and improve your health, difficult relationships have the power to drag you down and cause serious health problems. Stress is often cited as the base root of many health problems, and numerous studies have shown that difficult/unhealthy relationships are constant stressors in our lives. A 2005 article in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine stated that being in an unhealthy relationship can affect a person’s daily life – even when they are not around their partner. To prove this, they measured the blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 105 middle aged men and women. The researchers discovered that the participants with marital problems also experienced higher levels of cortisol and higher blood pressure.
6. People have a preference towards their own relationship status, and push it onto the people around them
Whether you’re single or loved up, you probably can’t imagine life any other way. While it’s perfectly fine to judge your relationship status as being best for you, it’s another thing altogether to believe that it would be most suitable for everybody around you. However, this is exactly what the findings of a study published in the journal Psychological Science discovered. The researchers created a scenario where each participant was asked to imagine what they felt to be an ideal Valentine’s Day for a hypothetical person of the same gender. In general, the participants judged the hypothetical person as having a more enjoyable Valentine’s Day if they shared the same relationship status as them, and less enjoyable if they had the opposite relationship status. This preference also influenced the way that people judged others. For instance, when the participants were asked to pick a fictional political candidate, they would nearly always pick the political candidate with the same relationship status as them.
7. If you are adverse to the idea of singledom, you will probably settle for less in relationships
Ever noticed that even when you know somebody is not right for you that you still choose to go out on a date with them, anyway? Perhaps this is caused by the very real fear of being single, which has been reinforced with society’s negative connotations with being single. A study held at the University of Toronto has yielded results that suggests that some people will knowingly enter unsuitable/unhealthy relationships in order to avoid being single. The experiment involved showing participants the fake online dating profiles of attractive individuals who stated things on their profiles which suggested that they would not make kind or caring partners. Despite these warning signals, the people who reported that they feared being single consistently settled for these unsuitable partners, while people who didn’t fear being single would normally refuse them. Because the study was conducted using a wide variety of people – young and old, male and female – the researchers surmised that loneliness and the fear of being single can affect any of us, with no discrimination.
8. Facebook affects our relationships
Facebook isn’t just used to mark the change of relationship status from being ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ anymore, the social networking site now plays important roles in nearly every phase of the relationship. This can lead to certain benefits and downsides to how you conduct your relationship. For instance, you can easily find, and get in touch with a romantic interest that you just met. There is literally no need to look them up in the phonebook or hang around their favorite spot, when you can just hit the ‘add friend’ button on Facebook. Facebook can also help when it comes to the maintenance of a relationship. This is particularly true in long-term relationships, as messaging, sending photos, and posting on your loved one’s wall are only some of the features of Facebook. However, Facebook inevitably has a downside when it comes to relationships. A downside is that it can cause jealousy and friction between couples, precisely because of the accessibility and ease of sending – and seeing – photos and postings on a wall that may incite jealousy and worry in you or your partner.
9. Women who are married tend to drink more
Ever wondered whether your relationship status affects how much you drink? Perhaps you’ve always assumed that singles – with the most freedom and flexibility – drink the most. Well, if you have, you would be wrong. A group of researchers gathered results from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, the Marital Quality over the Life Course Project (2003-2006), and the Relationships and Health Habits over the Life Course Project (2007-2010) to investigate the relationship between a peoples’ drinking habits and their relationship status. Overall, they gathered that men drink more than women on the whole. Within these groups, the researchers discovered that married men drink less than any other group of men, while divorced men drink the most. In comparison, women who are married drink more than any other category of women. Researchers reasoned that this was because both married men and women were matching the drinking habits of their spouse – meaning that married men were drinking less to match the fact that women generally drink less than men, while women were drinking more to match the fact that men generally drink more.
10. Your sleeping position could be a reflection of your relationship status
Sleeping is often the time when unconscious truths come to the surface. Therefore, it makes sense that the sleeping positions you take can reflect the state of your intimate relationship. In a study conducted at the University of Hertfordshire, for the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the results appear to affirm this theory. The study involved holding interviews in which couples are asked about their individual favored sleeping positions. From the study, the researchers surmised that the distance and the amount of touching between couples reflected the state of their relationship. The results showed that 86% of couples that slept less than an inch apart from each other reported satisfaction and contentment in their relationship, compared to only 66% of couples who slept more than 30 inches apart. Furthermore, of the couples who said they maintained some form of contact during sleep, 96% of them reported satisfaction and contentment within their relationship, while only 68% of the couples who didn’t make contact during sleep reported that they were happy within their relationship.