Valentine’s Day Roundup: The Psychology of Love

There’s no single key to happiness in life. Romantic, spiritual, familial, professional, financial and social fulfillment can all play a role. But on Valentine’s Day, romantic fulfillment takes the front seat of public attention. Romantic love is a topic that often comes up when individuals (and certainly couples) meet with their therapists. Being in a troubled marriage can seem to cast a shadow over every other aspect of a person’s life. And a healthy marriage can encourage growth and flourishing just the same. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a roundup of recent research exploring the connections between love and psychology.

  • For many people, their first kiss proves more memorable than their first sexual encounter, a sign that many attribute to the importance of romance over physical chemistry.
  • Language and love are related, even down to theifs, ands, or buts.” A study published in the journal Psychological Science finds that the way couples use small connecting words is a window into their romantic compatibility. Thought it’s just one factor among many, similar speech patterns were indeed associated with longer relationships among college students.
  • Double dating enhances couple’s love lives. Researchers at Wayne State University have found that spending time together with other couples leads to happier and more satisfying romantic relationships.
  • Having a partner who recovers well after a fight will benefit you. Marriage counselors constantly work with couples to improve conflict-resolution, but few studies look at recovery time after those conflicts are resolved. The University of Minnesota has done so, and finds that post-conflict resolution recovery also plays a big role in relationship stability.
  • Marriage—especially a good marriage—is good for you. It’s been associated with increased mental health for women, physical health for men, and longer lifespan for both.

Yet love remains a mystery. Psychologists can explore the connections between love and wellbeing, and physicians can link relationship satisfaction to blood pressure and any other number of physical manifestations. But at the end of the day, love can’t be reduced to science, which may be precisely why we love it so much.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Hannah

    Hannah

    February 15th, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    I have decided that I will not celebrate Valentine’s Day anymore. In my theory this has simply become Hallmark’s sneaky way of assuring that they will be in the black for the rest of the year. Bah humbug

  • Jenna

    Jenna

    February 16th, 2011 at 5:41 AM

    It is true that marriage has been good for me. I know that I am a much better person today than I was the day that I met my husband. And I know you are probably thinking that we are newlyweds but no. We have been married eleven years and I love him more today than ever. Yes there have been some rough patches but none of thos have diminished what we feel for each other.

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