Ask the Expert: All You Need is Love

How does love affect your well being?

We all know that being in love feels good, but according to some experts, love can actually be good for your overall health. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we turned to licensed clinical social worker Tammy Tilson of Tilson Therapy, whose practice specialties include dating, relationships, and intimacy. Tilson says that the search for love is a universal one. “Regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or background, most people want to be in a relationship and have similar needs and feelings,” explains Tilson, who also helps clients develop dating profiles on her website upscaledatingcoach.com. “In my practice, most couples who are looking for help in their relationship struggle with similar underlying issues such as intimacy, communication, partnership, and power.”

Why is being in love good for your health?

Many research studies show that people in loving relationships have a lower death rate compared to single people. If a person is in a healthy, supportive relationship, they are more likely to have higher self-esteem, which lowers both men’s and women’s chances of becoming depressed. Other studies show that a person is more likely to adopt safer behaviors when they are in an intimate relationship. Finally, a loving relationship helps reduce a person’s anxiety.

What happens to you physiologically when you first fall in love?

When you first meet someone of interest, the brain produces the chemical called oxytocin, which is called “the bonding hormone.” This endorphin gives us a warm and fluttery feeling throughout the body just by the mere touch or sight of our love interest.

Any tips on meeting a mate?

It is very important to be open-minded and have realistic expectations. By figuring out what you need and what makes you happy, you are able to navigate the dating world with more success. It is also important that a person feels good about themselves before they consider looking for a mate.

Is friendship good for your health as well?
Many studies show that people who have a group of close friends are more likely to live longer than those people who have fewer friends. The beneficial effects of friendship help people lengthen their lives, even when they are confronted with life’s most difficult stressors.

What you need:

Use these tips to achieve love and a happier life.

BFFs
Having a good group of friends is just as important and beneficial to your health as family.

Pros and Cons
Make a list of what you want in a mate—deal breakers versus things that you can put up with.

Carefree
Loving relationships can lower anxiety, which can reduce heart disease and psychological issues.


›› Do you have a question you want answered?  E-mail us at ghilary@baltimoremagazine.net and we will select various questions to feature in an upcoming issue.

Issue date: February, 2014
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