The sci­ence of love

Five ways re­searchers have proven peo­ple can have the hap­pi­est re­la­tion­ships

Thornhill Post - - LIFE - DR. JESS Jess O’Reilly is a sought-af­ter speaker, au­thor and sex­ol­o­gist (

If you want a happy, last­ing re­la­tion­ship, it’s time to dis­pense with ro­man­ti­cized no­tions of hap­pily ever af­ter and in­stead turn to sci­ence for a re­al­ity check. Here’s what re­searchers have re­ported you can do to have the best re­la­tion­ship:

1. Re­spond to your part­ner’s “bids” by turn­ing to­ward them when they seek your at­ten­tion. Dr. John Gottman’s re­search with thou­sands of cou­ples sug­gests that the happy ones rec­og­nize and re­spond pos­i­tively to even the slight­est bid for at­ten­tion. For ex­am­ple, when your part­ner points out a news story, the sun­set or a work in­ci­dent, what he or she is re­ally seek­ing is a shared emo­tional re­sponse. Show­ing en­thu­si­asm as op­posed to am­biva­lence is con­fir­ma­tion of your at­ten­tive­ness to your part­ner’s in­ter­ests. Am­biva­lence will erode in­ti­mate con­nec­tion.

2. Be more phys­i­cally af­fec­tion­ate. Phys­i­cal af­fec­tion is pos­i­tively cor­re­lated with hap­pier re­la­tion­ships, greater life sat­is­fac­tion, im­proved health, deeper trust and lower stress lev­els. Ger­man re­searchers re­port that men who kiss their part­ners good­bye live an av­er­age of five years longer, and an­other study con­cluded that peo­ple can still ex­pe­ri­ence in­tense love if they re­main phys­i­cally af­fec­tion­ate, although they may be dis­sat­is­fied with their re­la­tion­ship.

Un­for­tu­nately, Toron­to­ni­ans don’t make af­fec­tion a pri­or­ity, with 80 per cent reach­ing for their phones in­stead of their part­ners be­fore bed and first thing in the morn­ing. All you have to do is reach out to touch your part­ner.

3. Over­come psy­cho­log­i­cal chal­lenges to deep en con­nec­tion. En­gag­ing in chal­leng­ing ac­tiv­i­ties (e.g., a dance c lass or sky div­ing) helps in­ti­macy, but it’ s im­por­tant that new ex­pe­ri­ences also chal­lenge your emo­tional com­fort zone. Con­sider a med­i­ta­tion ses­sion (there are free ses­sions across Toronto), a spir­i­tual re­treat or an y ex­pe­ri­ence that makes you feel emo­tion­ally vul­ner­a­ble.

4. Hang out with other happy cou­ples (and sin­gles!). Hap­pi­ness is con­ta­gious, and so is di­vorce, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent data. Seek the com­pany of those who in­spire you to be lov­ing, af­fec­tion­ate and speak pos­i­tively about your part­ner. How you think about y our part­ner also af­fects yo ur re­la­tion­ship, soma kean ef­fort to ad­mire your part­ner in your mind.

5. Get more sleep. Cou­ples who sleep well re­solve con­flict more ef­fec­tively and have more sex. Toronto-based ex­pert Amanda Al­bert of Sleep En­vie sug­gests these sim­ple fixes to catch more shut-eye: in­vest in an eye mask, skip bed­time snacks( di­ges­tion causes your body tem­per­a­ture to rise, which im­pedes sleep) and bring laven­der into the bed­room to calm the ner­vous sys­tem.

Dr. Gottman says to turn to­ward your part­ner when they seek your at­ten­tion

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