Committed Relationships Lead to a Reduction of Stress Levels
Previous studies have shown that being married can reduce stress levels. Well, not it seems that it’s enough to be in a committed, romantic relationship to reduce your stress levels. “Unmarried people in a committed, romantic relationship show the same reduced responses to stress as do married people,” said Dario Maestripieri, Professor in Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study, published in the current issue of the journal Stress.
“These results suggest that single and unpaired individuals are more responsive to psychological stress than married individuals, a finding consistent with a growing body of evidence showing that marriage and social support can buffer against stress,” Maestripieri writes in the article, “Between- and Within-sex Variations in Hormonal Responses to Psychological Stress in a Large Sample of College Students.”
Some researchers from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University studied 500 masters’ degree students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Among them, about 40% of the men and 53% of the women were romantically seeing someone or were married. These students were asked to play some computer games that tested their behaviors and they were taken saliva samples before and after the test to verify their hormone levels. Moreover, they were told that this test is very important for their future career placement, just to make sure they are under a bit of stress, having their cortisol levels affected.
What the researchers found was that women had a higher cortisol level than men, but information on their personal life revealed a very interesting thing. “We found that unpaired individuals of both sexes had higher cortisol levels than married individuals,” Maestripieri said. “Although marriage can be pretty stressful, it should make it easier for people to handle other stressors in their lives,” he continued. “What we found is that marriage has a dampening effect on cortisol responses to psychological stress, and that is very new.”
So, what the study has shown is that married people or at least people who are in a committed, romantic relationship have lower stress levels in comparison to single people. Still, marriage itself can be very stressful, but in such situations, like the one presented above, in critical points of our lives, being committed to someone can do us more good. Knowing there’s someone waiting for you at home, no matter what has a great impact on the way in which we respond to tests and our worst enemy – the chronic stress – can be fight against more easily.11