In what is surely the most adorable story of the day, relationship experts have found that older couples subconsciously sync up heart rates when close together.

University of Illinois researchers measured the proximity and pulses of 10 long-term, married seniors using electronic monitoring devices.

When two people are close together, they can influence each other’s heart beat, as well as vice versa in complicated dances.

The findings did not reveal clear patterns that could explain the shifts.

In what is surely the most adorable story of the day, relationship experts have found that older couples subconsciously synchronise their heart rates when close together (stock image)

The most charming story ever is that relationship experts found older couples subconsciously sync their heart rate when they are close (stock image).

'Our first step was to see if heart rate and proximity are correlated over time, explained Professor Ogolsky. Pictured: fitted time series plots of one couple's distance apart (purple), the wife's heart rate (green) and the husband's heart rate (red). Note that the superficial lack of synchronisation is a product of the changes in distance and the lag time between the pair

Professor Ogolsky explained that the first thing they did was find out if proximity and heart rate are related over time. Figure 1: Fitted time series plots showing the distance between the couple (purple), their heart rates (green and red) You will notice that there is no synchronisation at all because of changes in the distance between them and their lag time.


It’s not just long-term couples who  unknowingly synchronise their heart rates — people listening to the same stories end up in sync as well.

This concludes a Paris Brain Institute study published in September.

These findings are based upon previous research that revealed that individuals often sync their bodily functions, such as breathing or heartbeat, when they share an experience. 

These findings could be used to create an easier-to-use test in hospitals to assess the consciousness level of patients. 

Brian Ogolsky of University of Illinois, paper author and romance relationship researcher said: “Relationship researchers usually ask people how their doing. They assume that they can remember properly and provide meaningful answers.”

“But, as they get older and are more committed to their relationship for many years, they often laugh at us when we ask how happy or satisfied they feel. 

“When they are married for more than 30 years or 40, it is considered a sign of their commitment.

“We wanted to find more objective methods of measuring relationship dynamics and know that the psychological benefits of being with other people are well-known.” Therefore, it seemed like physical proximity would be a solid candidate.

Of course, being physically close to someone isn’t always a good thing, with the context — for example of a loving interaction vs a conflict — being important. The same goes for changes in heart rates.

‘We’re not focusing on cause and effect, but on co-regulation, which happens when heart rates move in a synchronous pattern,’ explained Professor Ogolsky.

“That means that when partners are near, their heartbeat patterns signify an interaction that is mutually beneficial in some way.

In their study, Professor Ogolsky and colleagues recruited 10 heterosexual, married couples — each of whom had been in their relationship for 14–65 years and were aged between 64–88 — and monitored them for two whole weeks.

Every participant was fitted with a Fitbit to monitor their heart rate throughout the day. A second Fitbit measured their relationship to their partner, in tandem with sensors fixed around each couple’s homes.

Each morning, the team called each couple to remind them that they needed to get on the Fitbit. An evening call was used to collect information about the couples’ health and well-being, as well as their relationship dynamics.

“Our first step in determining if proximity is correlated with heart rate was to examine the relationship over time. Professor Ogolsky explained that we looked at the heart rate of the husband and wife with respect to proximity. We also examined the heart rates of the spouse with regard to proximity.

“We wanted to see if the three series worked in concert to provide us with unique data. Are they able to be used together? The answer to that question is “Yes.”

“All three are required to make a prediction about any of the above.

The team found that the couples heart rates synchronised with a so-called lead-lag relationship, in which changes in each pair's pulses would be led by one partner, with the other following. Sometimes, the husband would lead, other times the wife

Researchers discovered that couples’ heart beats were synchronized with what is known as a lead-lag relationship. This means changes in the pulses of each partner would be led and the other followed. Sometimes the husband would take the lead and other times it was the wife.

According to the team, the heart rate of the couple was synchronized with what is known as a lead-lag relationship. This means that changes in the pulses of each partner would be led and the other followed. Sometimes the husband will lead and sometimes the wife. 

‘This suggests a delicate balance,’ said Professor Ogolsky.

The partner who triggers the other partner starts a dance they call a “couple-level” that has a profound effect on their bodies and patterns.

Within each couple, however, no clear patterns emerged behind the shifts — and the small study size, the team noted, prohibited meaningful comparisons between pairs.

“We discovered that every day is unique, and it changes according to circumstances,” the expert on romantic relationships said.

‘Couple interactions, their attitudes, behaviours — whether they’re close to each other or far away — change all the time.

“Even over 14 days, the couples don’t show enough consistency in objective patterns for us to draw any kind of couple-level conclusion. 

We can only make day-level forecasts.

According to the team, their findings are important for relationship research — a field which usually relies on drawing conclusions across couples — going forward.

‘If we really want to understand the unique patterns of interaction that happen within couples, we need to start focusing our attention on micro processes — the small interaction patterns that accumulate over a day,’ Professor Ogolsky said.

Those, he concluded, ‘tell us about the nature of how couples’ interactions play out from moment to moment.’

Full results of this study have been published in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

What are the FIVE Stages of a Relationship and How Do They Affect Your Body?

Psychologists believe there are five stages to love: butterflies, building and assimilation; honesty, stability, integrity, and solidarity.

Researchers at eHarmony discovered that each stage has a unique impact on the health and psyche of individuals, as a result of a survey they conducted in 2014.

1) Butterflies

Infatuation and sexual attraction are the hallmarks of this condition. Couples also report weight loss (33%) and decreased productivity (39%).

According to biology, this is when both women and men produce more testosterone and estrogen. 

More than half of those surveyed (56%) reported an increase their libido.

Psychologists suggest there are five stages of love - butterflies, building, assimilation, honesty and stability

Psychologists believe there are five stages to love: butterflies, building and assimilation; honesty, stability, integrity, trust, and responsibility.

2) Building

Once the initial attraction subsides, and they learn more about each other, then the honeymoon stage begins. The couple starts to build their relationship.

According to eHarmony, around 33% of Britons are in stage 2 or more according to their study. 

Mononamines (neurochemicals) are released in the body. These neurochemicals increase heart rate and cause intense pleasure. 

It is possible to feel happy anxiety due to the biological effects. People can only think about their loving relationship. 

44% of study participants reported that they had not slept well, while 29% said their attention span was affected.

(3) Assimilation

After establishing whether or not the other person has ‘right, stage three asks the couple if their’relationship is correct. 

According to 27% of respondents, stress levels can rise when there are questions over the future of the union or the formation of boundaries. 

Each of the five stages of a relationship has a different impact on our psyche and health, researchers at eHarmony found in a 2014 survey (stock image)

In a survey conducted by eHarmony in 2014, it was found that each stage of a relationship had a different effect on your psyche as well as our health. Stock image

4) Honesty

The third stage combines with the fourth, when people are able to show the real you. This is where anxiety and stress levels begin to rise.

MailOnline heard that Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a psychologist, explained to this stage, “This stage deals about the concept behind how all of us put on our most beautiful faces. Through social media, we edit our lives and our photos to make it seem like everything is perfect.”

15% of participants felt more vulnerable and doubtful when they opened up.  


The fifth stage of stability brings more trust and intimacy to a couple who has been able to weather the emotional rollercoaster ride of the previous four stages.

eHarmony revealed that 55% of those surveyed had achieved this level, while 23% reported feeling happier.

Vasopressin, a strong hormone that is released during orgasm by both men and women, strengthens attachment feelings.

Oxytocin, which can be released in childbirth, deepens attachment feelings.  

MailOnline was told by Dr Papadopolous that this is the place where they see real contentment.

‘We discovered the body releases amazing hormones that help couples bond. The body releases wonderful hormones that help couples bond. We noticed a strong sense of attachment and the feeling of being “you’ve got my back, and I have yours.”