Humans are social beings by nature – we have evolved to form close relationships and build a community because when we work together in numbers, we have a better chance of survival. As a result, our brains are designed to seek pleasure and security in different types of intimate relationships.
Today, intimate relationships are still essential to our overall health.
Whether you currently have a significant other in your life or not, keep in mind that intimate relationships take many forms. While having romantic or intimate sexual partners is beneficial when there is trust and a sense of security, the social and emotional connections that non-sexual relationships provide are just as important, if not more, for mental and social well-being.
This article describes the role of intimacy from a health and wellness perspective and summarizes the research on how intimacy, or lack thereof, affects human health.
Intimate relationship and social life are pillars of health and wellness
Intimacy and social life are essential to individual, partnership, community health and wellness. the World Health Organization Health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Intimate relationships and social networks are essential to social well-being.
Wellness is often understood as a process rather than a condition, but it also includes social and personal wellness as a central aspect. More specifically, wellness is an active process by which people become more aware of a more fulfilling existence, and make their choices about it.
One of the Seven dimensions of wellness It is personal and social wellness. Social and Personal Wellness It refers to “the daily interactions you have with others, their quality, and interpersonal social skills. This dimension of wellness also addresses the human desire for a sense of belonging and a societal contribution.”
some of the traits and behaviors Associated with personal wellness includes:
- communication skills
- The ability to intimacy
- Ability to establish and maintain satisfying relationships
- Ability to develop a support system of friends and family
The above definitions and their associated attributes highlight that enhancing intimacy and social life is about developing the capacity to be intimate and actively contribute to the vitality of social networks and communities.
Different types of intimacy
Intimacy often refers to images of romantic relationships, but it also occurs in close friendships and family relationships. There are four basic types of intimacy, and feeling in a socially positive place often leads to people you can experience different types of intimacy with, but not necessarily all at once. You may also experience different types of intimacy with the same person, which often occur in romantic relationships.
the Four basic types of intimacy be:
- Experiential intimacy: when people bond during leisure activities or hobbies. This often happens with friends who meet for an activity they enjoy or form bonds during group work. It can also refer to a time when people bond about similar past experiences, such as growing up in the same city or being similar. Childhood experience.
- Emotional intimacy: when people feel safe sharing all kinds of feelings with each other and even talking through them
- Intellectual Intimacy: When people feel comfortable sharing and discussing ideas and opinions, even when they differ
- Sexual intimacy: when people engage in sensual or sexual activities
How intimacy affects our health and well-being
In his research Stadler et al The team recruited 82 committed couples to report the general symptoms of physical intimacy they felt throughout the day. They found that close relationships affect health in everyday life.
The team also reviewed research on the impact of close relationships on health in everyday life. Some of the results are summarized below.
Close intimate relationships, such as marital relationships, close friendships, social support groups, and family, have an impact on symptoms related to heart health. Here are some Telling the conclusions of the study:
- A greater frequency of interpersonal daily stress (the stress you feel as a result of interacting or thinking about the other person) was associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker of the Cardiovascular health.
- During social interactions, individuals with low attachment anxiety showed a decrease in blood pressure.
- Adolescents who tend to avoid intimacy show an increase in blood pressure in response to social conflict.
- Greater social interaction with a partner was associated with lower ambulatory blood pressure than social interactions with other individuals.
- Individuals with larger social networks have lower blood pressure.
- Married couples in high-quality relationships have lower blood pressure than unmarried couples and couples in low-quality relationships. However, unmarried people have lower blood pressure than couples in low-quality relationships.
- The subjects had lower blood pressure after participating in a training to enhance communication between spouses than before.
- Regular interaction with family members and spouses has been associated with lower blood pressure.
- Men with better marital adjustment and more frequent marital interaction were associated with signs of lower atherosclerosis.
- Women who had more frequent social interaction were associated with signs of lower atherosclerosis.
Brain and mental health
The studies cited here have evaluated neuroendocrine processes, which are those involving hormones that influence mood, emotions, and cognitive processes such as thinking and concentration. Below are the results.
- A higher rate of loneliness/sadness/fatigue was associated with a higher cortisol wake-up response. Feeling more lonely/sad/overwhelmed than usual the previous day was associated with a higher cortisol wake-up response the next day.
- Positive correlation performance was associated with higher levels of cortisol in the morning, which affects productivity and energy, and a sharp decrease in cortisol throughout the day, which promotes rest and sleep.
- Intimacy in everyday life was associated with decreased salivary cortisol, a measure of stress.
- higher levels of Long-term loneliness They had a higher stress response and signs of fatigue.
- People who participated in the “couple enhancement” intervention had larger increases in salivary oxytocin. oxytocin It is a hormone associated with feelings of love, emotional investment, and long-term communication.
- For every additional hour of work a person or partner performs, a person’s total cortisol concentration (an indicator of stress) increases, and with each hour of chores a partner performs, it decreases.
- Greater quality of social support was associated with lower cortisol concentrations.
Sleep, pain and other symptoms
Only a few studies have focused on the effect of the quality of close relationships on sleep, pain, and symptoms not related to an illness, such as headache, rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, weakness, and increased heart rate (these are also called physical symptoms). Here are some of the most important findings.
- Women, but not men, reported lower quality and meaningful social interactions LonelinessLess fear of negative evaluation also reported fewer daily physical symptoms.
- Wives, but not husbands, reported, with a higher degree of satisfaction, fewer daily symptoms.
- lonely people They had lower sleep efficiency and more awake time after the onset of sleep compared to individuals who did not feel lonely.
- Women sleep better at nights when they notice less negative interactions with their partners during the day.
- Men slept better on the nights when their partners noticed an increase in positive interactions that day.
- Patients with osteoporosis who sought emotional support one day experienced less pain the next day.
- Among rheumatoid arthritis patients, daily satisfaction with their spouse helped reduce the likelihood of feeling tired and helpless when dealing with pain and helped protect against the harmful effects of pain.
Intimacy is often seen as a purely romantic experience. However, intimacy takes many forms and is experienced in any close relationship. The four types of intimacy are experiential intimacy, such as what you might share with a friend you met at a book club; Emotional intimacy, such as what you might experience with someone you think won’t judge you when you talk about how you feel; Intellectual intimacy, such as what you might share with a business partner; and sexual intimacy, which is what you share with your sexual partner.
Intimacy is a vital component of social and personal health. It is also essential for your physical health. Healthy close relationships can help promote cardiovascular health, mental health, and sleep.
For healthy social and personal well-being, it is important to develop the ability to engage in intimate relationships, which means being willing to accept what others want to contribute to the relationship while also being prepared to reciprocate.
- https://www.salisbury.edu/administration/student-affairs/center-for-student-involvement-and-leadership/student-wellness-program/wellness-dimensions/social.aspx#:~:text=Social%2F %20Wellness%20refers%20to, from %20belonging%20and%20community%20contribution.