Valentine's Advice

Horoscopes and dating columnists be damned. If you're look for quality romantic advice, look no further than the latest scientific research on love, sex, and relationships.

Be Good to Each Other and Live Happily Ever After

While being single has its perks, new research from the University of Missouri reveals the health benefits of marriage.

Assistant professor Christine Proulx compared the mental and physical health of married people to that of singletons. She found that happily married people have better physical and mental health overall, and are less likely to develop chronic conditions that those who are widowed or divorced.

“We often think about the aging process as something we can treat medically with a pill or more exercise, but working on your marriage also might benefit your health as you age,” Proulx said in a press release.

Her study will be published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Family Psychology.

Distance Can Be a Good Thing

Not all relationships have to be Twilight-clingy to be successful. In fact, some healthy relationships involve quite a bit of emotional distance.

David Frost, PhD, of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, was the lead author of a recent study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. In his study of 732 people, he found that it doesn't matter how close a couple is, so long as there’s not a large discrepancy between the amounts of emotional closeness each partner wants.

“People who yearn for a more intimate partnership and people who crave more distance are equally at risk for having a problematic relationship,” he said. “If you want to experience your relationship as healthy and rewarding, it's important that you find a way to attain your idealized level of closeness with your partner.”

Choose Your Humor Wisely

Guys who've spent a night on the couch should learn to choose their words more wisely, especially if they think they're being funny.

Researchers at California State University, East Bay studied 93 dating couples trying to resolve a conflict. They found that anxious people typically used self-defeating humor, which only made things worse.

Instead, those who used “affiliative humor”—positive humor that isn’t given at anyone’s expense—were able to resolve their conflicts more quickly.

This study was also published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Be Nice to the Single People

The last time you were without a Valentine—which may be today—someone surely asked you, “How come a wonderful person like you is still single?”

Research shows that single people feel worse about being single and experience lower self-esteem when they’re reminded of the differences between being single and being in a relationship, even if they’re otherwise happy.

So, if you’re attached, leave the single people be; it’s better for everyone’s health.

Just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you have to show your affection everywhere you go. So keep the PDA to a minimum and save something for home.