This is a guest post by Alex Reddle.
What does love feel like? We all appreciate how it appears in the movies, from corny dialogue about fluttering hearts, to lovers dreamily staring into one another’s eyes against a background of crashing waves. But what’s the truth behind those well-worn sentiments?
Actually, love is nothing to be scoffed at. After all, it’s what makes the world go round. If we weren’t falling head over heels in love all over the place there wouldn’t be many meaningful relationships. Without relationships the human race would grind to a halt very quickly. The truth of the matter is that the aforementioned clichés about love only exist because it is an emotion so universally experienced. Love, the driving force behind so much cinema and literature, is ideal for a central plotline in fiction. This is because it is also so important in the real world. What’s more, love is very good for the health of those who are embracing it, actors or otherwise.
How do you know if you are in love? Perhaps you’ve just met someone and are still struggling to come to terms with the excitement. Your friends might have commented that you appear to be full of the joys of spring. They might have expressed growing irritation/jealousy about that permanent grin seemingly lodged in your face. On your part, a key aspect of these early stages of a new relationship might be focused on what invariably happens when two people really ‘click’ big style, the red-hot sex you’ve experienced, particularly after a barren spell. This can lead to doubt and the eternal question about telling the difference between love and lust. Lust, enjoyable as it may be, is only ever a transient feeling. When love does strike, it’s easy to see why mythology equated it with being impaled by an arrow aimed by that horny little Cupid.
So assuming you’re no longer doubting the strength of your feelings and are now merrily embracing the depths of this partnership, how does it differ from those one-night stands you were actually quite enjoying up until now?
There are both physical and emotional benefits to being in love. At the risk of undermining the sheer spiritual joy of it all, it’s worth underlining the host of proven benefits to your body. Scientific research has demonstrated that stressful relationships are detrimental to health, whereas those couples experiencing loving romances were far less prone to cardiovascular disease. Statistics prove that married people live longer than singletons, with fewer heart attacks and lower cancer rates. That is not to say that only married people can be in love, but it does show that the stability brought about by a long-term relationship between two consenting adults is ultimately beneficial to health. Another study, by the University of Iowa into ovarian cancer, found that patients strongly connected to a significant other had more vigorous anti-tumor cells at work in their immune systems than those with less social ties.
The temptation might be to see love itself as an antidote to various ills. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, your local GP might recommend singletons seek out stable relationships as quickly as possible; or, at the very least, go looking for some steamy sex!
Flippancy aside, the wonderful feelings generated within loving relationships don’t have to revolve around what happens under the duvet. A simple hug can suffice. The reason why everything from a quick cuddle to a full-on wraparound bear hug can make you tingle from head to toes is also scientific. It has been found that regular embracing creates high oxytocin levels, while lowering systolic blood pressure.
In the mind
While that same research uncovered the fact that a lot of this beneficial oxytocin surges through the body during orgasm, there is a lot more to being in love than great sex. Mental wellbeing is a crucial aspect of modern health. There can be no denying that simply having someone else on your mind is extremely positive. Even when you are apart, you may well be thinking of them, anticipating the times you’ll spend together, wondering how you could add even more sparks to your relationship when you next meet.
This mutual appreciation will help to keep your mood from dipping. Whenever you might be feeling despondent, it’s always uplifting to be in a position to be making future plans with your partner. This might involve everything from booking an adventurous holiday, to thinking about improvements to your home, to making plans to start a family together.
If you haven’t reached that stage yet, a positive outlook will still stand you in good stead if you are going online in search of flirting advice. In no time at all you’ll find yourself immersed in potential partners, the world of romance your oyster.
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.