Happy Valentine’s Day everybody! As much as I would prefer to simply ignore the “holiday” due to the gross overpricing of flowers, chocolates, and other gifts that could just as easily be delivered with the same amount of caring for a fraction of the cost at any other time of the year, I also like it when my blog gets a lot of hits.
So let’s talk about relationships.
Specifically, today’s topic is on how close relationships can affect your health. There’s plenty of research out there showing that married people live longer, healthier lives. But what about those relationships that are a bit rocky? What about those people who constantly stress about the implications of the tiniest word or action from their romantic partner?
Or, as I like to call them, significant crazies?
For those people with attachment anxiety, even healthy relationships can be detrimental to their health. Come on, you know the type. The people who’ve had a loving, affectionate partner for years but freaks out every time he or she wants to spend a night apart. S/he doesn’t love me anymore! The people who hear the words, “You look good tonight,” and immediately jump to, “S/he didn’t say great. I’m fat and ugly.” Or the people who go grossly overimagine the meaning of lipstick on the collar a different shade than their own.
Well, okay, perhaps that one is a bit of an issue.
In a recent study from the Ohio State University, researchers quizzed 85 couples that had been married an average of 12 years and also took several samples of blood and saliva. (But hopefully not at the exact same time.) They were looking for signs of attachment anxiety as well as overall immune health. What they found was that people who scored highly on the anxiety questionnaire had compromised immunity. They had 11 percent more cortisol and between 11 and 22 percent fewer T cells, the former of which has immunosuppressive effects and the latter that are necessary soldiers of the immune system.
The good news? People can change. Though the study doesn’t go into details – nor does any other study, for that matter – the little research that exists suggests being in a caring, loving, close relationship can be a catalyst to move away from being anxious about relationships.
So hang in there all you chronically crazies. Finding the right person just might prune some of the insanity. Hanging on to that person might just eventually settle your worries and fears.
Or maybe your significant other is just a dick.