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Brain In Love-How Telomeres Protect Couples and Harm Singles

Previously in our Brain In Love series, you discovered how to see and change brain habits of negative thinking that block love, success, happiness. Now see how to gain proven health benefits of the brain in love in highlights of my radio conversation for A Lasting Love with Dr. Sean Sullivan.

Dr. Sean is a Harvard-educated psychologist in private practice in San Francisco. He guides people on Mind Master Journeys world wide.

Hadley: Let’s talk about the brain in love. Neuroscientists have proven many health benefits of being in love. They call it “The Marriage Effect.”

Couples tend to live longer than singles, so let’s talk about how the brain in love protects couples, starting with newlyweds when everything is blissful and wonderful at the start of a marriage.

Dr. Sean: It’s incredible, the research about the brain extending life span when you can reduce the stress. One of the things that being in love does, especially for newlyweds, is that it reduces stress. A person with whom you are sharing your inner world and you have that support.

What happens on a biological level, there are telomeres in your brain, and in every cell in your body. Telomeres get shorter and wear down when you have increased stress. One stress in your life can be not having a loving relationship. Then your brain cells die more rapidly.

The good news is you can change the life of these telomeres to change the life of these cells.

Hadley: I love it. Is this neuroplasticity or something else?

Dr. Sean: This is nobel-prize winning research I’m talking about from a professor I studied with at UCSF. They tested people by getting background on their stressful life events. Then they looked at the length of these telomeres, which are in every cell. They discovered that the more stressful events people had, the shorter their telomeres were.

Then they discovered that you could inoculate against that stressful result if you have supportive relationships in your life. That you’re sharing your inner world with someone to negate the stress.

As crazy as it is to say, not on an individual level but on the population level, it expands your life span. So if you are in love, if you have supportive relationships, you are extending your life span.

Hadley: This is so exciting. I know they were studying telomere length in infertility treatment and in healthy beauty products, but I didn’t realize it in the health of the brain.

I’m aware of a 2009 study which showed that people who were widowed or divorced at mid-life and remained so were at the greatest risk of getting Alzheimers. So it seems that this love inoculation against the shrinking of telomeres and the marriage effect also ward off debilitating memory loss and dementia in aging.

This brings up important questions. Are singles destined for dementia and earlier death than married couples? Or can single men and women prolong your life, your mental clarity and gain other health benefits from The Marriage Effect, without being married?

Get the answers in highlights of my radio conversation about The Brain In Love for A Lasting Love. Want to listen to the entire episode now? Click here.

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Get all the love and happiness you deserve,

Hadley Finch

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About Hadley Finch

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