Thinking of Your Partner can Reduce Stress

We all have moments of high stress in our lives, how we deal with the stress is up to us. One technique that could work for you is to think of your romantic partner. A recent study has shown that in a stressful situation people who were with, or thinking of, their partner demonstrated lower levels of stress. What a lovely thought.

Those who had their partner physically present in the room or who thought about their partner had a lower blood pressure response to the stress of the cold water than the participants in the control group, who were instructed to think about their day. Heart rate and heart rate variability did not vary between the three groups. 

The effect on blood pressure reactivity was just as powerful whether the partner was physically present or merely conjured mentally.

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Caring People Have More Sex

It turns out that nice guys do get the girl (but not these nice guys), and nice girls too! Altruism has been linked to more sexual partners and better relationships. There is a growing body of research that connects people who are emphatic are good partners to have in life. Over at Scientific American they have an article on how researchers are contrasting the concept that people need to be jerks to attract a mate.

Remember it’s good to be nice regardless of how much sex one gets.

This theory suggests that altruism may serve, in part, to convey one’s value as a mating partner, including one’s concern for others and likelihood of cooperating with future mates.  Research has shown that we prefer altruistic partners, all else being equal; especially for long-term mating (the evidence for altruism being preferred in short-term mates is mixed). Not surprisingly, then, the pull to demonstrate one’s altruism can be strong. Some research has shown that men will actively compete with one another (termed competitive altruism) by making charitable donations to women. Interestingly, these charitable donations increase when the target of one’s altruism is physically attractive.

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A Happy Partner Means a Healthy Self

Being in a relationship can have benefits of feeling good as long as it’s a healthy one. There’s now a bonus to couples that are happy: they are making their partners healthier. It turns out that having a happy partner can improve one’s health.

“This finding significantly broadens assumptions about the relationship between happiness and health, suggesting a unique social link,” said William Chopik, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University and principal investigator of the study. “Simply having a happy partner may enhance health as much as striving to be happy oneself.”

“Simply knowing that one’s partner is satisfied with his or her individual circumstances may temper a person’s need to seek self-destructive outlets, such as drinking or drugs, and may more generally offer contentment in ways that afford health benefits down the road,” Chopik said.

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Smart People Trust Others

Oxford University researchers have concluded that the more intelligent a person is the more likely they are to trust other people. This is assumed to be the case because smarter people have a better at determining what sort of people they want to be around and self-select to be around people who can indeed be trusted. The study also points out the benefits of trust for society at large (including not intelligent people).

The Oxford researchers found, however, that the links between trust and health, and between trust and happiness, are not explained by intelligence. For example, individuals who trust others might have only reported better health and greater happiness because they were more intelligent. But this turns out not to be the case. The finding confirms that trust is a valuable resource for an individual, and is not simply a proxy for intelligence.

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How to Keep Healthy Relationships

Relationships require at least two participants, and each member has a role to play within that relationship. I’m not just talking about girl/boyfriend relationships here, I’m talking about all kinds of relationships from friendly to professional to loving. The nice blog, Water Cooler Wisdom has an article on how to ensure a long-lasting and enjoyable relationship.

The key point: be good and pull your weight.

Workplace friendships in particular can develop into some of the most meaningful relationships in your life, but you have to be willing to put in a little effort beyond just saying hello in the hall or eating lunch together in the cafeteria. If you decide it’s not worth it to you, that’s fine, but if it is, don’t let relationship laziness get the better of you.

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