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Plenty of single guys out there think they have a leg up on their married buddies—social flexibility, sexual freedom, etc.
But when it comes to stress, the average single dude is actually far worse off than married men.
At least that’s the takeaway from new research out of Carnegie Mellon University. Over the course of the three-day study, published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, researchers collected multiple saliva samples from 572 healthy men and women, ranging in age from 21-55, who were single, married, divorced, or widowed. Each sample was measured for the presence of cortisol, the stress hormone.
The participants spit out a unanimous truth: Married people are way less stressed.
Men and women who had tied the knot had lower cortisol levels than those who’d never been married or those who were previously married. Now, typically your cortisol rhythm ebbs and flows throughout the day—levels peak when you wake up, then dwindle as the day goes on. Married men and women exhibited a faster decline, which is linked to lower instances of heart disease and a better survival rate from cancer.
“These data provide important insight into the way in which our intimate social relationships can get under the skin to influence our health,” study co-author Sheldon Cohen said in a press release.
Marriage—having someone to talk to and be with at the end of every day—helps couples unload psychological stress (whereas single dudes, mindlessly plodding through dating apps, just have—well, other single dudes). In the long run, this is a great advantage. Prolonged stress ramps up levels of cortisol, which can interfere with your body’s ability to regulate inflammation, spurring or worsening the progression of many diseases.
Though we’d argue those couples—the ones who nit-pick, nag, and never stop arguing—ought to have higher stress than single guys livin’ life, right? …right? But hey: If Homer and Marge Simpson have made things work this long, maybe there’s something to it after all.