The Health Benefits of Positive Relationships

The health benefits of positive relationships are extensive. Science is explaining more and more, what has previously been considered as intangible. The realm of intimacy, attachment and even romance is being studied more and more, and a body of research based evidence, pointing to the importance of meaningful relationships is growing. In addition, the effects of loneliness and stress in human beings is becoming a hot topic among some of the world’s leading research scientists.

Many times when I’m working with individuals and couples in counselling, I become aware of one sobering fact… ‘We forget that we are human beings.’ In saying that, I mean it’s as though we forget the fact, that to function as a healthy, happy person we need to have certain needs met. We need to eat, to drink, to breathe, to sleep… and to connect. Many times people are depressed, partially at least, because they are not sleeping properly, or eating properly. But more often than not, people are unhappy because in some way or another they’re relationships aren’t going well.

Clinical Psychologist and author, Sue Johnson says, “The first and foremost instinct of humans is neither sex nor aggression. It is to seek contact and comforting connection.” ― Sue JohnsonLove Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships. The centrality of connection is actually confirmed by instinct. This instinct is about survival, and that is how important it is. Consider these facts:

  • When babies are not physically held they don’t properly develop, and can actually die
  • Married men live longer than single men
  • The people groups, attributed with the longest life spans on earth all prioritise relationships and community. See Bluezones

The age old truth, ‘it’s not good for man to be alone’ is fact, science, evidence based reality. It can play out like this-

  1. The health and depth of your connections with others effects the way you feel emotionally
  2. The way you feel effects the way you think (and vice versa)
  3. The way you think effects the way you respond, and the way your physical body responds (this includes stress responses)

So it’s worth working on your relationships. It’s worth doing some work on your marriage. It’s worth doing some work on yourself, so you can get along better with others. Neuroscientist, Robert Sapolsky put it like this, “If a rat is a good model for your emotional life, you’re in big trouble. What’s the punch line here? Physiologically, it doesn’t come cheap being a bastard 24 hours a day.”

Put the work in, make the investment. What is more important than relationships?