It’s official: Unstable relationships are bad for our health

Even if you’ve never experienced one yourself, odds are you’ve witnessed an unstable TV couple. After all, there have been plenty on TV: Gilmore Girls’ Lorelai and Luke, The Big Bang Theory’s Penny and Leonard, New Girl’s Jess and Nick, and How to Get Away with Murder‘s Annalise Keating and Nate Lahey. While these programs have demonstrated just how stressful and complex these relationships can be, what they didn’t show is this: that they can also be bad for our health.


According to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, unhealthy relationships can impact our health by causing or aiding in addiction issues with alcohol, by prompting symptoms of depression, and even by lowering our scores when we’re asked to rate our health. To get this info, Women’s Health reveals that researchers partnered with the Iowa Youth and Families Project. This collaboration allowed them to measure the relationships of Caucasian young adults who come from two-parent homes in Iowa.

Over the course of two years, the study’s authors kept track of the participants’ relationship changes, but also made note of both their physical and mental health during this period of time. Specifically, they asked those involved to discuss their affection, commitment, relationship criticism, support in their partnership, overall satisfaction, and how their partners behaved outside of their relationship.


What they found was that those who had healthier relationships also had healthier lives. In other words: Their physical health was superior and, thanks to their experience with positive romances, they were also more likely to leave a future bad relationship that put their health at risk.

This is particularly important during the transition to adulthood when instability in romantic relationships is expected to be common,” explained the researchers.

Though this study is great for those who need an incentive to leave an unhealthy relationship, we do wish that the researchers included more diversity in their pool of participants. For instance, it would be interesting to see how this same study would affect different races, age groups, and people from different locations. Ultimately, it would be interesting to see how unstable relationships affect a wide range of individuals.

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