10 Reasons We Love Love

*** This is a re-post from See original post here.***

10 reasons we love love – By Kira Peikoff

Research shows being in love is good for your health, and can even make you less sensitive to pain

10 reasons we love love
(Credit: Gemma Ferrando via Shutterstock)

The riddle is as old as the spark between the first man and woman who ever locked eyes across a cave: Why do we love?

Those first hunters and gatherers likely got together so they wouldn’t starve to death alone. For millennia, practicality ruled. Status, wealth, her family’s number of cows — these were far more important reasons to choose a mate than some fuzzy notion of romantic connection.

Since then, things have changed. We seek out the spark any way we can. Love today is a big business — see dating sites, pop songs, romance novels, rom-coms, Hallmark, etc. But if you believe love is overhyped, think again.

According to renowned couples therapist and relationship researcher Dr. Sue Johnson, the desire for that explosive, shout-it-from-the-rooftops, knee-melting connection with another human being is actually the prime driver of our species. We are hard-wired to form deep bonds with another person — bonds that can measurably enhance our lives.

In her new book “Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships,” Dr. Johnson shares a number of compelling studies that reveal the beneficial effects of love. Forget the divorce rate and the disenchanted — turns out the spark has been a pretty big deal all along.

1. Love lessens our physical perception of pain and threat

In a groundbreaking experiment, Dr. Jim Coan at the University of Virginia gathered a group of happily married women and put them in a functional MRI machine. (Rather than just showing static, structural images of the brain, this type of MRI measures which areas “light up” when a person is exposed to various stimuli.)

Once in the machines, the women were shown pictures of x’s and small circles. They were told that when they saw an x, there was a 20 percent chance that an electric shock would be delivered to their ankles. After they received each shock, they rated how much it hurt.

At various times, the women faced the threat alone, with a stranger holding their hands, or with their husbands holding their hands.

When they were alone and saw an x, alarm signals raged through their brain. They rated subsequent shocks as very painful. But then the study took a fascinating turn. The presence of strangers diminished their alarm and pain, though the shocks were the same strength. And when their husbands were by their sides, their brains barely responded to the threat of the x’s — and they rated the shocks as merely uncomfortable.

On a neurobiological level, love makes us feel safe.

“It helps us deal with our pure existential anxieties that we are small, vulnerable human beings in a great big indifferent world,” Dr. Johnson says.

2. Loving contact in very early life benefits emotional development

The catch phrase in evolutionary psychology is no longer the “survival of the fittest,” but rather, “survival of the most nurtured.”

Psychologist Michael Meaney of McGill University in Montreal did a study showing that rats who were intensely nurtured with lots of licking and grooming as pups grew up to handle danger and fear more adaptively than their less-loved counterparts.

Such highly nurtured rats remained calm even when researchers dropped them into canisters of water. The rats also registered lower levels of stress hormones than the neglected group.

3. Loving contact in childhood can “switch off” bad genes

The geneticist Danielle Dick of Virginia Commonwealth University collected DNA from 400 adolescents who had been followed from birth. She analyzed their genetic profiles for variations in a gene called CHRM2 that is associated with alcohol dependence, antisocial behavior and depression.

The teens possessing the variant who had distant, unengaged parents showed the most undesirable behavior — violence and delinquency. But the teens with the variant who had more involved, nurturing parents had fewer such problems.

These results are similar to many others affirming that life experience can affect gene expression, and that close loving care early in life can have a profound impact later on.

4. Love can protect against addiction

Research at Duke University reveals that rat pups who received lots of loving contact from their mothers had higher brain levels of interleukin-10, a molecule that suppresses a craving for morphine.

In a similar study, prairie voles who were monogamously bonded responded less to the rewarding effects of amphetamines in the brain.

5. Feeling secure in a loving relationship makes us more open to the world

Psychologist Barbara Frederickson at the University of Michigan performed an experiment in which she asked people to view videos showings three types of situations: joyful ones, angry and fearful ones, or emotionally neutral ones. Volunteers were told to imagine themselves in the scene, and then afterwards were asked what they wanted to do next.

Those who had just watched the joyful clips came up with more and varied possible actions than those who had watched the distressing or neutral clips.

Positive emotions invigorate us to take part in the world, and few experiences bring as much joy as a loving bond.

“We’re much more confident when someone has our back,” Dr. Johnson explains.

6. Love can protect your immune system

The results of a study by psychiatrist Janice Kiecolt-Glasser found that recently separated or divorced women had decreased immune functioning compared with married women.

Dr. Johnson reports that married patients who have coronary bypass surgery are three times more likely to be alive 15 years later than their unmarried counterparts.

Some psychologists, like Bert Uchino of the University of Utah, go so far as to declare that a loving relationship is more valuable than diet or exercise in sustaining good health.

7. Love can help you better cope with painful emotions

Dr. Johnson identifies three different styles of bonding: secure, anxious and avoidant.

Those who form secure attachments, she says, “have a sense in their bones that their partner is there for them. Security is this profound level of trust and confidence that you matter to someone and that they will come when you call.”

Anxiously attached people, by contrast, worry that they don’t matter to anyone enough, and so seek constant reassurance. People who form avoidant bonds are uncomfortable depending on others and resist opening up to their partners.

A brain-scan study conducted by psychologist Omri Gillath at the University of Kansas found that women who were in secure partnerships were better equipped to process difficult emotions like grief and loss than women whose bonding styles were anxious or avoidant.

When confronted with emotionally distressing scenarios, the securely attached women showed less activity in the brain region that processes sadness, the anterior temporal pole.

8. Love can be a source of not just good sex, but lasting passion

According to stereotype, sex between long-term partners gets dull and routine. But that doesn’t have to be the reality.

The more we connect emotionally, Dr. Johnson says, the more we connect sexually. A secure bond can lead to increased intimacy and adventurousness.

In his survey research of sex in America, sociologist Edward Laumann finds that long-term happy lovers have more sex and enjoy it more than singles. This fits with bonding studies by psychologists like Deborah Davis at the University of Nevada, in which lovers with stable loving bonds were more willing to experiment sexually and reported enjoying sex more than those whose attachments were less solid.

9. With help, even damaged bonds can be repaired

Dr. Johnson is the one of the originators of Emotionally Focused Therapy, which “helps people make sense of their strongest emotions — especially their longings, needs, and fears.”

Couples who take part in EFT and learn how to read and respond to each other’s signals actually undergo measurable changes in their brains.

In a recent landmark study, Dr. Johnson teamed up with Dr. Jim Coan for a variation of his shock study. Instead of recruiting happily married women, they found women who were insecurely bonded with their partners.

These women were scanned in an fMRI machine and given shocks just like in the original study — alone, with a stranger, or with their husbands. Their brains lit up with alarm while alone, which eased a little with a stranger. But unlike the group of happily married women, holding hands with their husbands did little, if anything, to mitigate their sensations of alarm and pain.

Then, after the couples underwent 20 sessions of EFT, the study was repeated. This time, when the women were with their husbands, the brain region that regulates emotion — the prefrontal cortex — did not even activate in response to the alarm cues. And when the women received a shock, they rated their pain as just uncomfortable, like the group of happily married women.

“I never expected to see the lack of activation in those women’s brains that we saw,” Dr. Johnson reflects. “But what science is saying is this impact [of secure bonding] is absolutely huge.”

10. We can depend on love for the long haul

It’s not necessarily true that human beings are wired for promiscuity or that monogamous passion is doomed to shrivel over time.

In her latest study, Dr. Johnson found that as couples became closer and more securely bonded in therapy, their satisfaction with their sex life improved as well, and they were still feeling that passion when she followed up with them two years later.

The research on sex and bonding she summarizes in her latest book sends a clear message: We have many wonderful reasons to love love.

Kira Peikoff is a freelance journalist who writes about science, health, and society. She is the author of “No Time To Die,” a thriller about a girl who mysteriously stops aging. It is available now for pre-order, and will be published on Sept. 2, 2014. Connect with her on Facebook or tweet her @KiraPeikoff.

20 Qualities The Person You’re Going to Marry Should Have

*** This is a re-post from Laura Argintar. View the original post on elitedaily here. ***

While we may not know who exactly we are going to marry, as fully developed, young adults, we have a pretty good idea of the qualities we’re looking for in a partner.

This isn’t a little girl’s “Prince Charming” wish list. Think of this, instead, as the list Rihanna’s friends gave to her after she broke up with Chris Brown… for the second time.

Despite this suspicious feeling that writing this list will guarantee my future as a spinster, here are the 20 qualities you should look for in the person you marry:

1. Shares your beliefs

Regardless if you believe in Satan or sprinkles, your partner should have respect for your views. Believing in the same things — like Beyoncé as a religion, or coffee as a morning non-negotiable — brings you two closer.

2. Teaches you something new

Life together will be pretty boring if you can’t learn from each other. It can be a lesson as small as how to bake chocolate chip cookies with Oreos stuffed in the middle (this has actually turned out to be an important life skill), or something more substantial, like how to use chopsticks properly. For me, this means he’s well-versed in politics and will give me the Sparknotes version of White House current events. Let’s also not forget there’s an inherent good feeling when you teach someone a new fact or skill.

3. Trusts you (and is trustworthy him or herself)

If you feel the need to raid your partner’s cell phone, you’re basically displaying your distrust for him or her — what good is a relationship like that? Once you start prying into each other’s phones, all faith goes out the window and every text is grounds for an argument.

Bottom line: If you go digging for sh*t, you’re gonna smell it.

4. Appreciates staying in together

Every couple needs quality time — just make sure your definition of “quality time” is the same as your partner’s. Going out and socializing as a duo is always fun, but it’s equally important that your partner can curl up next to you for an intimate night in. Sometimes, the most magical moments are the ones we take the time to slow down and enjoy with the person who’s right in front of us. No audience necessary.

5. Makes you a better person

You want someone who brings out your best self. A great way tell if you and your partner should tie the knot is by honestly asking yourself, “Does this person make me better?”

6. Entertains inside jokes

No, I’m not talking about how you both love to crack up while watching the “Afternoon Delight” scene in “Anchorman.” I’m talking about the kind of inside joke, where all you have to do is give the other person a certain look and it instantly sends you both into a laughing fit. You are both so on the same page that the joke doesn’t need to be explained; your partner just gets it.

7. Does not place restrictions on you or the relationship

The person you marry shouldn’t give you ultimatums like, “I won’t date you until you get a promotion,” or “If you go out with your friends, I’ll break up with you.” There shouldn’t be rules to your relationship that prohibit you from doing certain things or hold you back from being who you are.

He can’t prevent you from wearing your crop top to the bar (although, it is very flattering when he gets jealous like that). Likewise, she can’t stop you from playing video games before bed (that is, unless she’s not wearing any clothes…).

8. Compromises

Compromise is the key to any successful relationship; we’ve been taught this since kindergarten. Do I love going to Phish concerts and listening to 20-minute guitar riffs? No, but I’ll make it my mission to enjoy myself and do it anyway (for the drugs, mostly). And I’m sure he doesn’t like being dragged to see weird indie films, but I’ll buy the popcorn and soda and toss in a Xanax because I’m nice like that.

9. Respects your family

Notice how I don’t use the word “likes” here; although, that’s always a plus. This also goes for both sets of friends.

10. Satisfies in bed

If you can’t please your partner in bed, chances are, he or she is gonna look for that satisfaction elsewhere. Being satisfied in the sack goes beyond pleasure; it means you two are also sexually comfortable with one another. When it comes to matters in the bedroom, you and your partner should keep an open dialogue.

11. Maintains a healthy relationship with alcohol and socializing

If your partner can’t handle drinking or social situations, then you’ll either: A) Have to accept the role of the occasional babysitter, or B) Pass on it altogether. (Shout out to my future hubby!) Drinking Jameson and crying at the bar afterwards is kind of a deal-breaker — same with getting violent, Chris Brown.

12. Loves your flaws

True confession: I love not wearing pants. If you don’t love that about me, then we probably aren’t meant to be together. The person you marry should, of course, play up your strengths, but also appreciate your imperfections. It might sound trite, but it’s your quirks that make you… You.

13. Gives you well-deserved compliments

So sue us for wanting the person we love to tell us we’re beautiful and perfect and incredible and smart and the best person on the planet?

Seriously, though, you don’t need to shower us in flattery, but when we’ve spent all day researching the perfect lingerie, hearing that we look “sexier than Rihanna in her ‘Pour It Up’ video,” is always well-received.

(Yes, patrons in the comments section, these are my daddy issues talking — you’ve totally figured me out.)

14. Shares the same values

Someone who is materialistic and enjoys splurging on extravagances probably won’t last very long with someone who is down-to-earth and likes to rough it. This is why celebrities marry other celebrities***.

(***The reason they don’t last very long, though, is completely unrelated to this list.)

15. Stays faithful

This seems fairly obvious; although, you’d be surprised at how many people are more and more accepting of the fact that their spouses will cheat at least once in their relationship.

I am not one of those people. Don’t f*cking cheat on me, or I’ll break up with you… And then cut off your balls because I assume you have none in order to do that to a person. (Smiles.)

16. Displays intelligence

Smart people don’t suck. They also offer insightful advice and help you make good choices. Your spouse doesn’t have to be a college graduate. We’re referring to the kind of partner who innately possesses that brand of sage intelligence.

17. Appeases your attraction (whatever that means to you)

Because you’re going to be spending the better part of your life with this person, it’s mildly crucial that you also feel connected to him or her. I happen to be fond of older, hairy men. And I’m pretty sure that sounds attractive to no one but myself.

18. Partakes in various hobbies

They don’t have to be the same hobbies as yours (see #8 ‘Compromises’), so long as your partner has other ways of fulfilling him or herself, aside from banging you and then cuddling on repeat. Whether that means frequenting museums or watching viral videos, your partner should have other interests outside of your relationship.

Bonus points if by “hobby,” you also mean “grubbing.”

19. Shares in your vision for the future

Hopefully you’re both in it.

20. Delivers unconditional love

Unconditional love is kind of like the Olive Garden: When you’re there, you’re family.

6 Habits of Resilient People

*** This is a re-post from Fast Company by Gwen Moran on resilience. Click here to go to the original posting.***



On April Fool’s Day 2011, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer. As a freelance writer with a career I love and a family that depends on my income, I spent most of the year juggling surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation with assignments, interviews, and youth soccer schedules. Throughout, friends and colleagues seemed surprised that I remained relatively active and pretty optimistic.

What else was there to do, I wondered. Taking to my bed for the better part of a year wasn’t an option for my personality or my bank account. Why not look at the bright side of early diagnosis and great prognosis and keep going? During that time, I contributed to two books, wrote dozens of articles and ended the year with a clean bill of health.

Since then, I’ve been more curious than ever about why some people persevere through trying circumstances while others begin flailing at the first sign of crisis. I wondered if there were commonalities among resilient people and whether it’s possible to develop those qualities and strong points. The answers, according to the experts, are yes and yes. Here’s what those never-say-die folks have in common–and how you can develop them for yourself.


People who bounce back tend to have a network of supportive people around them, says Michael Ungar, Ph.D., co-director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. For some people, that’s a close-knit family, but for others it’s a carefully cultivated group of friends, colleagues, mentors and others who actually care and are willing to help. Ungar says he’s seen the tendency to seek out support sources in children as young as five years old: When the family unit isn’t functioning in that way, children tend to reach out to coaches, teachers or other adults as a support network. Similarly, resilient adults seek out others who care about them who can offer emotional, professional or other assistance when times get tough.


Lorenn Walker had just left a hotel bar one night in 1976 when an unknown assailant nearly murdered her. He fled, but she was left badly injured, needing surgery on her face. Her recovery took four months. Through therapy and willfully refusing to be mired in fear and resentment, she was able to “reframe,” or think about the situation in a different way. Instead of resenting the scars and the fearful memories, the Waialua, Hawaii, lawyer and counselor sees the attack as the catalyst that led her to her work in what she calls restorative justice–counseling prisoners and victims of violent crime in how to make peace with the past and cultivate meaning in their lives.

“You have the power to determine how you’re going to look at a situation, and you don’t give that power to other people, particularly people who are bad or who hurt you,” she says.


Paul LeBuffe lectures about resilience as part of his role as director of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, a Villanova, Pennsylvania, facility that works with educators and mental health professionals to develop more resilient children. It’s not uncommon for his audience to include young people who were highly successful students, but graduated during the recession and are devastated at their inability to find jobs.

“They don’t know how to cope with the fact that they didn’t get the first job they applied for. So we hear a lot about these young people sitting in their parents’ basements playing video games,” he says.

If you don’t give yourself the opportunity to fail sometimes and accept it as a part of life, you’re going to struggle with bouncing back, LeBuffe says. Successfully emerging from failure develops the ability to be optimistic that things can be bad now, but they’ll be okay eventually, he says.


If you get most of your self-worth from your job and you get fired, you’ve suddenly lost both your source of income and a big part of your identity, says Ungar. Resilient people often have a number of areas from which they get their sense of self-worth, says Ungar. They may have deep friendships or family connections, strong faith, or a leadership role in the community. They’re better able to bounce back, because even if one goes away, they still have a sense of connection and being valued from those other areas, he says.


Whether it’s forgiving yourself for a failure or forgiving someone else for an injury or injustice, being able to let go of past hurts and move on is an essential component of resilience, Walker says. When you find yourself “ruminating about grievances and negative stories, you have to just stop yourself and remind yourself of what you have to be grateful for,” she says. If you’re not a naturally forgiving person, this takes practice, but it is a skill that can be mastered, she adds.


LeBuffe says resilient people have a sense of purpose that helps them analyze their situations and plot the next moves. This stems from a set of values that is unique to each individual. When you know what’s important to you, whether it’s family, faith, money, career, or something else, you can prioritize what needs your attention most immediately to help you get back to where you want to be. That goes for organizations, as well. When everyone knows the ultimate goal, they can make meaningful contributions. When they don’t, they’re mired in indecision.

“If the people who work in a company don’t know the values, they’re paralyzed. They have to keep coming back to senior management to say, ‘What about going after this market?’ or ‘What do you think about extending credit another 30 days?’ instead of being able to act adaptively,” he says. “It’s the same for people. You have to know what’s important to you to be able to take action.”

Brown on Love

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honour the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”

– Brene Brown

Toxic People

“Not all toxic people are cruel and uncaring. Some of them love us dearly. Many of them have good intentions. Most are toxic to our being simply because their needs and way of existing in the world force us to compromise ourselves and our happiness. They aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people for us. And as hard as it is, we have to let them go. Life is hard enough without being around people who bring you down, and as much as you care, you can’t destroy yourself for the sake of someone else. You have to make your wellbeing a priority. Whether that means breaking up with someone you care about, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful — you have every right to leave and create a safer space for yourself.” —Daniell Koepke

Are You in Love with the Idea of Being in Love?

** This is a re-post from See the original post by Annie Oudom here. **


“When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Viktor Frankl

“But no. We can give it another chance; I know we can. We just have to try harder…” were my desperate words to him as he was breaking up with me for the second time.

As I am reading those words, out loud, I feel a little sting in my heart. It’s been a while since I revisited this experience and for some reason, it feels bittersweet.

It’s been about nine months since he told me that he didn’t see a future for us, that he felt like he was pretending when he was with me, and that sometimes he just didn’t want to be around me.

But I didn’t hear those words. I heard it, but I thought knew that I could change his mind if I just tried a little harder to convince him that he did want to be with me; he just didn’t know it yet.

I felt beaten when he firmly said, “no.” I was even more devastated after suggesting that we remain friends when he again said that he didn’t think it would be a good idea, since he didn’t think I could handle it.

That’s when I knew it was over and I knew that there was no way in this lifetime that I could change his mind.

A flood of thoughts and emotions ran across my mind and body:

What could I have done that was so horrible that he couldn’t even stand the sight of me anymore? How could I have missed the warning signs during the last three months that we were together? If he wasn’t happy, why didn’t he just say so?

There were countless questions that just would not stop.

I finally realized he’d been telling me all along that he didn’t want to be with me. His actions spoke loud and clear, but I was so involved in trying to change the situation that I didn’t see the reality. And that reality was: He just did not want to be with me.


Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first relationship that I allowed myself to get lost in. So how in the world did this happen to me? Again?

The idea of being in love happened. That’s what.

I wanted that romance, that fairytale. I wanted to finally know what it was like to be in real. Grown up love and not kiddie, high school love. I wanted all of that.

I was so tired of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride. I was starting to feel like maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for me.

And that scared me.

When I finally woke up from this, I started to ask myself, “Who the hell are you, and why did you allow yourself to go through that?”

I used to think I was this strong, independent woman who knew exactly what she wanted in life and wouldn’t tolerate any BS from anyone.

I was always so proud to list all hundred qualities that my future husband would definitely have, and I told every one that I was never, ever going to settle. I was all talk but never walked the walk.

After much soul searching, I finally had the courage to put my foot down and say enough is enough. That was when the real challenge began.

Who am I again? I don’t even know anymore…

I had to find a quiet spot and re-evaluate me.

I figured out that I’m one person with friends and family but the complete opposite when I’m in a relationship. I try a lot harder to please; I’m less outspoken, less confident, and less of myself. I was scared to let the real me out in fear that maybe they wouldn’t like me.

I was too scared to say no to something that I knew I was against.

I felt like I had to create this façade of someone that was fun, loving, and patient, and what I thought was “perfect” in someone else’s eyes. Not saying that I’m not fun or loving or patient; I just tried too hard to be seen that.

Far enough that I even agreed to hang out with his ex, who he was good friends with, if that’s what he wanted.

Don’t get me wrong, many people are still friendly with their exes and their current significant other is fine with it, but I was never fine with their relationship.

They had a history—friends before dating, four years as a couple, and three years living together. I knew about this from the beginning of our relationship and I was absolutely fine with it.

In my mind, I thought they broke up on good terms and talked to each other occasionally. I didn’t know about the late night phone calls, meeting each other for dinner, going to the vet together when “their” dog had appointments, and the fact that she still had a key to “their” condo.

He made an effort in the beginning and assured me that they were just friends and that I didn’t have anything to worry about, and of course I made myself be okay with it.

I made myself okay with anything if it meant that it would make me the person he always wanted to be with.

What I didn’t realize was that it was slowly killing my spirit.

She always came up in conversation, not because I brought her up, but because he wanted to share his past. I put on a brave face and would listen and laugh at some of the stories, but it made me feel like I had to live up to what they had.

And what had just wasn’t good enough.

I’ve come a long way from where I was nine months ago. I’m admitting that I have made huge relationship mistakes, but my biggest mistake wasn’t that I tried too hard or that I would’ve given anything for my relationship.

My mistake was not being true to myself—not standing up for myself, not keeping true to my morals, and not loving myself enough to just say no when I wanted to.

I’ve discovered that I am not flawless and that it’s okay to not be perfect. But most importantly, I’ve learned that it’s okay to love yourself first, and if you have to lower your standards to get the love that you think you want from someone else, then it’s not worth it.

These challenges haven’t been easy but if it’s challenging me to define my true self then why not jump feet first and go all in? I have made a promise to myself that I will love myself first and not be in love with the idea of love.

Sometimes letting go of someone or something is the best thing that you can do for your soul. Write the last chapter and tuck it away. It’s time to start a brand new book.