Why People in Relationships Really Are Happier Than Single People














One of the best things about
romantic love is that it feels so good. Falling in love is one of the best natural drugs we have. It's a more powerful emotion than sexual attraction. It's also good for your health. People in happy, loving relationships live longer and are better able to survive medical crises.

But did you know that romantic love doesn't exist in some cultures? The factor that determines whether romantic love exists and is valued is women's sexual freedom.

Let me break it down for you. Cultures that allow premarital sex and female choice in partner selection (rather than the sexual double standard and arranged marriages) place a high value on the importance of romantic love. So say the authors of a recent study in the journal Cross-Cultural Research.

In the study, the authors used a well-known scale to measure romantic love and then compared it to various cultures. The scale looks at love as a system of factors that include the idealization of the potential spouse, especially a spouse with little resources, loyalty to a mate, the absence of arranged marriages, non-obligated gift giving, spare time spent together, a belief that partners are predestined to be together, happiness linked to attachments. In the study, when cultures controlled women's sexuality, these behaviors and feelings were less common. Female choice is key.

And what is romantic love, except fabulous strategies to woo another person? Some anthropologists believe that out of romantic wooing came some of the most sophisticated forms of human intelligence -- art, music and romantic language. Yes, art evolved as an important tool to attract females.

So what does this say about our current North American culture where the rise of women's empowerment means that sex is in high supply? It tells us that while romantic love isn't necessary to obtain sex, it is still vital to achieve a happy marriage.

Long-term married couples often report that a highly emotional romantic courtship before marriage breeds positive memories that help a couple ride out the rough patches. And married couples with a short courtship are more likely to divorce. Finally, there is truth to the motto "a happy wife makes a happy life." Married women don't have better health and live longer than single women -- unless they are in a happy marriage.

My advice: If your date has marriage potential, don't forgo the chocolates, roses and romantic getaways.