Married men seem to be the chief beneficiaries of the love given to them by their wives. This was one result of a study conducted by Stefan Felder into 100,000 deceased Swiss individuals. The men lived up to two years longer than their unmarried contemporaries while the converse was the case for women. Married women tended to die younger than single women.
Stefan Felder explains this difference by reference to the fact that men tend to suffer more frequently and at an earlier stage from health-related problems (e.g. cardiovascular problems) and therefore require more care. They are usually looked after by their wives, who “sacrifice themselves” for their husbands.
In other words, individuals in a relationship benefit from the fact that they have someone who will look after them if they are ill. This naturally increases their chance of recovery and helps them stay healthy. But there is another even more direct link between good health and being in a relationship.
Touching and kissing stimulate the release of the hormone oxytocin. This reduces blood pressure and lowers the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood, which in turn decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Kissing also leads to release of other happiness hormones, including dopamine. Dopamine makes people feel euphoric and hence reduces the risk of depression.
There is another positive side-effect of kissing: it boosts the immune system. During kissing, millions of micro-organisms are transferred from mouth to mouth and stimulate the production of immune cells in the blood.
Love can even ease pain. This was demonstrated by US researchers using a simple experiment in which they inflicted pain on a group of young women. Those who were looking at a photo of their loved one experienced less pain.