January 25th, 2023,
5 min read
As Valentine's Day approaches, love is in the air. According to a study from a small team of researchers from Leiden University and Birmingham, the physical effects of attraction and love can actually be measured in our heartbeats.
The study, which was published in the journal Nature, found that when two people are attracted to one another, their heart rates tend to synchronize. In other words, when one person's heart rate increases or decreases, the other person's heart rate tends to follow suit. This phenomenon, known as "interpersonal coupling", was observed during real-life blind dates, in which participants would meet a prospective partner, while wearing multiple sensors to measure the physiological dynamics between the pair. The researchers found that the couples that rated each other as attractive and wanted a second date, tended to be those whose heart rates synchronized, suggesting that the mere sight of a love interest can have a tangible effect on our bodies.
But it's not just the sight of a loved one that can affect our heart rate. Another study also found that when couples engaged in activities such as holding hands, their heart rates became more synchronized.
So what does this mean for Valentine's Day? It's a reminder that love isn't just an emotion, it's a physical experience as well. And as it turns out, our hearts really do beat as one when we're with the person we like.
In addition to the effect of romantic attraction on heart rate synchronization, these findings also have implications for the relationship between heart rate and breathing. Slow, controlled breathing has been shown to have a number of benefits for physical and mental health, including reducing stress and anxiety and lowering blood pressure. One way that slow breathing can achieve these effects is by slowing the heart rate down.
The synchronization of heart rates observed in the studies suggests that the heart rates of two people in a romantic relationship may be influenced by each other's breathing patterns. When one person breathes slowly and deeply, it may encourage the other person to do the same, resulting in both individuals' heart rates slowing down.
So this Valentine's Day, in addition to showering your loved one with chocolates and flowers, try taking a few slow, deep breaths together. Not only will it help you relax and feel more connected, it may also help to synchronize your heart rates and bring you even closer together.
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