Healthy Experiences Across Relationship Transitions

Author : Dr. P D Gupta 

Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad (INDIA), Email:, Cell: 080728 91356  

Valentine ’s Day is around the corner. Many hearts beat as one. A number of researchers have found that under a variety of conditions, human hearts tend to beat in synchronization.  Humans may not always see eye-to-eye, and some may beat their own drummers, but when it comes to heart rates, we seem to have a strong tendency to synchronize up with each other. 

In a study during Valentine ’s week, researchers found that lovers’ heart rates synchronized when they were sitting quietly together in a room or across a table from each other. When the researchers mixed up the couples, so that each was paired with a stranger rather than their partner, heart rates did not fall into step. 

This is just one of many studies exploring how human heart rates synchronized. Recent research found that the hearts of couples who really hit it off on a blind date fell into step as well. Nor is the effect limited to romantic partners. Total strangers’ heartbeats can synchronized  up when absorbed in the same story, according to one recent study, or even, according to other research, when strangers simply trust one another. Not only lovers heart  beat synchronizes but scientists in   another study showed that, the hearts of mothers and their babies were beat in time when the moms and babes played together (even when they were not physically touching). 

The mechanisms for all this synchrony are still not clear. It’s likely that the reasons, as well as the mechanisms, will be found to vary from situation to situation, and from couple to couple. For example, take the research that found that people’s heart rates synched when listening closely to music or story or watching touching scene in cinema sitting together.  

Heart to Heart 

Neuro scientists suggest that all this synchronizing is just a part of being a social creaturest. “One advantage is that we live longer if we have close, supportive relationships with other people. If you and your partner feel that your relationship is intimate and caring, that you’re responsive to each other’s needs, and that life seems easy and enjoyable when you’re together, both of you are less likely to get sick. If you’re already sick with a serious illness, such as cancer or heart disease, you’re more likely to get better.” 

Unfortunately, studying the health of a relationship is much more difficult than measuring heart rates. The psychologists can measure relationship quality. Ogolsky, renowned psychologist selected 10 couples, aged 60 years and older, with sensors that tracked how physically close they were to their partners throughout the day. They then tracked the subjects for 14 days in their own homes. The couples also wore Fit bits. Each evening the researchers phoned the couples and administered a standard psychological and relational questionnaire that gathered information about stress, relationship quality, and other self-reported data so that they could compare the self-reported data to the couples’ proximity. 

As shown by the Fit bit data, the couples’ heart rates influenced each other, or as Ogolsky puts it, there is a “basic relationship dance between proximity and heart rate.”  It did show that humans are extremely social creatures and that many studies are demonstrating that social isolation is bad for health. Social isolation, loneliness in older people poses health risks. 

Bacteria too 

In other studies it was found that a lover still plays an important role in shaping your bacterial profile, said Ashley Ross an author of the study. “It’s not the main influence, but it’s one more piece of the puzzle.” In addition to the feet, sexual partners share similar bacterial profile   on the torso, navel and eyelids, the study showed. Some of that exchange might occur from sleeping in the same bed and sharing sheets, Ms. Ross said. (The author has his own study and views)