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Are relationships good for your health?

Choose your partner carefully

  • By: David Gallacher, John Gallacher
  • Published: 28 January 2011
  • DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.d404
  • Cite this as: Student BMJ 2011;19:d404

Love is a voyage of discovery from dopamine drenched romance to oxytocin induced attachment. Making this journey can be fraught with hazards and lead many to question the value of romance and commitment.

Nevertheless, the impact of stable long term exclusive relationships on longevity is well established. In a study of one billion person years across seven European countries the married persons had age adjusted mortality rates that were 10-15% lower than the population as a whole.1 So, on balance, it probably is worth making the effort.

Less well established are the benefits of early phase romantic relationships—that is, dating. Evidence suggests that romantic relationships in adolescence are associated with increased depressive symptoms,2 although less so as you get older. Romantic relationships in 18-25 year olds are associated with better mental health, but not better physical health.34 So it seems that a degree of maturity is required before Cupid is

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