Getting into a relationship can have clear effects on our mental state, but it can also affect us physically as well. It might not be as obvious, but there are a number of weird ways your body can change when you get into a relationship, some of which seem a little obvious, but others that don’t seem to have any correlation to romance. You’re not going to all of a sudden have a totally new body or radiant skin, but you might see some subtle changes in how you feel once you begin dating someone.
“The physiologic changes your body goes through when you are in a relationship can sometimes be reflective of some of the new emotions and feelings you experience towards your significant other,” says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. “When you are in relationship mode, these new feelings may trigger and activate the release of various hormones or chemicals that may facilitate certain changes in your body.”
Our bodies are pretty sensitive, and even changes in who we interact with can affect our entire system. Here are seven weird ways your body can change when you get into a relationship — or even when you just fall in love.
As you start to really connect with your significant other, hormones such as oxytocin can come into play. “Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as a ‘love hormone’ that helps foster that feeling of intimacy and bonding that you experience as you spend more time together,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. It can also help ease stress, help you form memories, boost sexual arousal, and more, according to multiple studies.
“This hormone is partly responsible for the feeling of elation that you may experience when you are in a relationship,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. The neurotransmitter is also responsible for creating that addicted feeling of wanting to spend time with your significant other.
“You may notice that your heart may start racing faster around your significant other, especially during the beginning stages of your relationship,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. “Being around that special someone when you are in love can lead to an adrenaline surge.”
Men typically have higher testosterone levels than women, but when in a relationship, men’s testosterone levels go down, while women’s go up, according to research published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. Researchers suspect it may be nature’s way of eliminating differences in men and women, but it could also be a result of increased sexual activity.
Love really is the best drug — it can help provide pain relief. A study from Stanford University School of Medicine found that intense, passionate feelings of love can provide effective pain relief similar to painkillers. Turns out, areas of the brain activated by intense love are the same areas that drugs use to reduce pain, the study found.
Being in a relationship sure can feel good, but it can also be distracting. Research published in the journal Motivation and Emotion found that people in the beginning of relationships that experience intense, passionate love show reduced cognitive control. This can affect your ability to concentrate and focus on specific tasks.
Dating someone can provide some stability to your life that can help you make healthier choices, but getting in a relationship can also help improve something as random as your bones. Research out of Harvard Medical School found that stable marriages were linked to better bone health. This particular study just looked at men, previous research shows that couples who are in relationships are less susceptible to chronic conditions.
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