Healthy relationships

How Healthy Are Your Relationships?

This quiz will help you discover any of the ways you’re not engaging in healthy relationships so you can make positive changes.

Your best friend could be described as:

  1. Supportive and caring
  2. Wild and crazy but fun
  3. Unreliable and sometimes mean, but very charming and popular with others


You find out your partner is cheating—what do you do?

  1. I know how to decide for myself what I will and won’t tolerate. My partner is history.
  2. I talk to him/her about it and, though I feel resentful, we stay together.
  3. I’m not surprised—in fact, I’ve been cheating too! Monogamy is super dull.


Your parents are ____.

  1. Not perfect, but I love and respect them for who they are.
  2. Always embarrassing me—why can’t they get a life?
  3. Seriously messed up. I must be adopted, otherwise life makes no sense.


Which approach would you be most likely to take in a relationship?

  1. Positive reinforcement: focusing on the other person’s positive qualities, telling them how much I love and appreciate them.
  2. Negative reinforcement: focusing on what’s not right in relationships. There are always problems, and it’s important to tell others what they are doing wrong.
  3. Relationships bring out the worst in me—I tend to get angry a lot and we’re constantly fighting.


Who makes your relationships good or bad, generally speaking?

  1. It’s both of us—the other person plays a role, but I do too. I take responsibility for my relationships. I co-create them and also their dynamics.
  2. Things are always my fault. I tend to take everything personally.
  3. If there are any problems (and there are usually many), you can bet I had nothing to do with them. Other people can be so annoying and dumb!


You’re feeling sad about something your partner did.  How would you respond?

  1. “I am feeling sad because __”
  2. “You are a jerk. I can’t believe you did that.”
  3. I wouldn’t “say” anything; I’d slap him!


What matters most when it comes to friends—quality or quantity?

  1. I’m happy to have a few good friends I can really rely on, so definitely quality!
  2. Quantity is what really matters—I would feel like a loser if I didn’t have a lot of friends to hang out with on the weekends!
  3. I have no friends. People suck. This quiz sucks.


You think children are:

  1. Adorable and fun. I like to spend time with kids.
  2. Loud and annoying most of the time, although they can be funny.
  3. The answer to what’s missing in my life. I want kids or another kid as soon as possible, because it will make my life complete.


Check out the results…

If you answered mostly A’s:

You have a very healthy take on relationships! You are centered and make positive decisions that support your own well-being as well as others. You determine what is right for your life by checking in with your inner guidance, rather than looking outside of yourself for happiness.


If you answered mostly B’s:

Your relationship skills do need some work and the best place to start is with yourself. When you truly love yourself, your relationships with others will reflect that. You’ll be amazed! Start by thinking of ten things every day that you like about yourself. Look in the mirror and see the positive things about yourself that you often overlook. Try that every day for a month and see what happens!


If you answered mostly C’s:

Your relationships definitely need some work. You are most likely unhappy and looking to others to fulfill you. It’s very important to understand that others aren’t there to make you happy – only to add to your own happiness. It’s important to love yourself and be kind to yourself. Find a wise, trustworthy friend or counselor that you can talk with.


10 Reasons to Look Forward to Intimacy

Some women have a negative perception of sexuality and aging.

When we were kids, it was seriously gross when Mom and Dad would lock the door to their bedroom and get up late on Sunday. Honestly, what could they possibly be doing in there, that they need to lock the door? Eeeew. Now, I’m the creepy grownup who is still interested in having sex with my partner.

If you have a notion in your mind that sexual encounters are reserved for young people, and your partner feels differently, it may be time to reconsider your position. It’s fine for you to take any opinion you would like about adult sexuality. The problem arises when your partner has a different opinion, and the two of you are a clashing a bit under the covers. It might be worth exploring your mindset about sexuality, looking for negative associations.

Why should you look forward to intimacy with your partner? Sex improves your self-esteem. While some people with high levels of self-esteem report that they have sex to feel even better, others report that having loving, connected sex gives flagging self-esteem a needed boost.

Here are 10 more good reasons.

  1. Reduce your stress

Touching and hugging can release your body’s natural feel-good hormone, oxytocin. However, a hug needs to last at least 10 seconds to get the best release of oxytocin. I think this is shorthand for the recognition that sex will relieve oxytocin more effectively than a quick squeeze in the kitchen.

Physical intimacy improves people’s moods by decreasing stress and increasing a feeling of relaxation. Researchers in Scotland studied 24 women who kept records of their sexual activity. They subjected the study participants to stressful situations and monitored their physiologic responses. They found that the women who had had regular sexual intercourse had less blood pressure elevation in response to stress, compared to those who engaged in other sexual behavior s or abstained from sex. Another study published in the same journal, Biological Psychology, found that frequent intimacy was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure in cohabitating participants.


  1. Boost your immunity

Sex health expert Yvonne Fulbright at the Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that students who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of certain antibodies compared to students who had sex less often. Her team compared saliva samples of 112 college students. Based on their reported frequency of sexual activity once or twice a week, students were found to have higher levels of immunoglobulin A, or IgA, which is important for protection against infection. This antibody is found in high concentrations in the saliva and is considered a first line of defense against colds and other upper respiratory infections.

Your immune system relies on adequate sleep, eating right, regular exercise, and other healthy living behaviors that trigger the release of feel good hormones. Be sure to do all these things to keep your immune system happy.


  1. Improve your libido

Do you long to have a more lively sex life? Gynecologists at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago report that women having more regular sex experience improvements in vaginal lubrication, vaginal blood flow and elasticity. All these things will improve the next episode of sexual activity and make the experience more enjoyable, and therefore, more desirable.


  1. Improve women’s bladder control

Having strong pelvic floor muscles is important for avoiding incontinence as women age. Incontinence can affect up to 30% of women at some point in their lives. Strengthening of the pelvic floor through exercise and sexual activity works out the muscles, causing contractions, and strengthening these muscles.


  1. Reduce blood pressure

Research studies have linked sexual intercourse with lowered systolic blood pressure. Interestingly, masturbation did not show a benefit to blood pressure reduction. Therefore, it’s possible that much of the benefit of sexual activity arises not just from pleasure, but also from being close to your partner and sharing special private time with someone that you love.


  1. Get your exercise

One study published in October 2013 in the journal PLOS ONE tracked sexual activity with fitness monitors. They found that sex burns an average of 4.2 calories a minute for men and 3.1 calories a minute for women. It’s not as good as a jog, but that’s better than a walk. That means that twenty 1-hour sessions will burn a pound! It’s no wonder my patients don’t gain weight when they go on vacation without the kids!


  1. Decrease pain

Oxytocin, the hormone released with orgasm, also reduces pain, primarily through secondary release of endorphins. In the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 48 volunteers were asked to inhale oxytocin vapor. Then they were asked to rate their level of pain after a finger was pricked by a pin. Volunteers who inhaled oxytocin vapor lowered their pain thresholds by half when compared to controls. So don’t be surprised if your headache or arthritis actually feels better after sexual intercourse. Researchers in North Carolina and Pittsburgh (Greewen, K.M., Girdler, S.S., Amico, J. and Light, K.C.) found that even hugging your partner resulted in increasing levels of oxytocin.

Sexual stimulation has been found to block chronic back and leg pain, and case studies report reductions in menstrual cramps, arthritic pain, and even headache. In a study published in March 2014 in the journal Cephalgia, about a third of migraine sufferers get relief from sexual activity. So much for the excuse of a headache leading to avoidance of intimacy!


  1. Lowers heart attack risk

In one study, men who had sex at least twice a week were half as likely to die of heart disease than men who had sex rarely.


  1. Reduce the risk of prostate cancer

According to one study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, men who ejaculate more frequently are less likely to get prostate cancer. Even more men will probably benefit from the addition of healthier diets.


  1. Better sleep

After orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released, which is responsible for feelings of relaxation and sleepiness after sex.


Does research suggest that egalitarian relationships are better or worse? In some studies, in relationships where both men and women do an equal portion of work and housework, relationships are less spicy. However, other research shows that partners in equal relationships are happier. At this point, it’s most important to follow your own heart and wishes on who does the dishes.

Dr. Mary Clifton is the co-founder of Get Waisted, an internal medicine MD, and can’t wait for her next big snuggle.

Psychol Rep. 2004 Jun;94(3 Pt 1):839-44

Cephalalgia. 2013 Apr;33(6):384-9. doi: 10.1177/0333102413476374. Epub 2013 Feb 19

JAMA. 2004 Apr 7;291(13):1578-86

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2002 Feb;56(2):99-102

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Posted on by Mary Clifton, MD

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