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Love Boosts Mental Strength

Update Date: May 09, 2014 09:06 PM EDT

Love gives you strength.

Psychologists found that romance can boost personality development in young adults.

German researchers from the University of Jena and the University of Kassel focused on neuroticism, one of the five characteristics considered to be the basic dimensions of human personality, which can be used to characterize every human being. "Neurotic people are rather anxious, insecure, and easily annoyed. They have a tendency towards depression, often show low self-esteem and tend to be generally dissatisfied with their lives," researcher Dr. Christine Finn explains, who wrote her doctoral dissertation, said in a news release.

"However, we were able to show that they become more stable in a love relationship, and that their personality stabilizes," she added.

The latest study involved 245 couples between the ages of 18 and 30. Participants were followed for nine months and interviewed every three months.

Researchers evaluated the participants' neuroticism as well as relationship satisfaction. Participants were also asked to assess fictitious everyday life situations and their possible significance for their own intimate relationships.

"This part was crucial, because neurotic people process influences from the outside world differently," Finn explained. Neurotic people tend to react more strongly to negative stimuli and tend to perceive ambiguous situations negatively instead of positively or neutrally.

The latest findings revealed that this tendency slowly diminishes over time when being in a romantic relationship.

The study also revealed that couples support each other. On the other hand, the cognitive level, i.e. the world of inner thought of an individual, plays an essential role: "The positive experiences and emotions gained by having a partner change the personality - not directly but indirectly - as at the same time the thought structures and the perception of presumably negative situations change," Finn emphasizes. In other words, love boosts confidence and helps people see things less pessimistically.  

The findings revealed that love influenced men and women in the same way.

"Of course everyone reacts differently and a long, happy relationship has a stronger effect than a short one," lead researcher Prof. Dr. Franz J. Neyer said in a news release. "But generally we can say: young adults entering a relationship can only win!"

"It is difficult to reform a whole personality but our study confirms: Negative thinking can be unlearned!" Finn concluded.

The findings were published in the Journal of Personality.

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