Helen Fisher, PhD biological anthropologist, is a Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. She has written five books on the evolution and future of human sexuality, monogamy, adultery and divorce, gender differences in the brain, the chemistry of romantic love, and most recently, human personality types and why we fall in love with one person rather than another.
1- The Science of Love, and Why We Cheat:
In this talk, Helen elaborates on love and its underlying biological and psychological characteristics.
- Fisher identifies that humans have evolved a Brain Architecture made up of 3 core brain systems related to love, and mating:
The sex drive (libido) – evolved to encourage you to seek and copulate with a range of partners.
Romantic love – evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on a specific partner, thereby conserving courtship time and metabolic energy; and
- Attachment – evolved to enable you to feel deep feelings of union to this person long enough to rear your infants as a team.
As a matter of fact, love can start off with any of these three feelings. “Some people have sex first and then fall in love. Some fall head over heels in love, then climb into bed. Some feel deeply attached to someone they have known for months or years; then circumstances change, they fall madly in love and have sex.”
But this brain architecture makes it biologically possible to express deep feelings of attachment for one partner, while one feels intense romantic love for another individual, while one feels the sex drive for even more extra-dyadic partners.
Researchers have hence broadened the definition of infidelity to include different types of infidelity: sexual infidelity (sexual exchange with no romantic involvement), romantic infidelity (romantic exchanges with no sexual involvement) and sexual and romantic involvement.
Because of this complexity of our biology, and undeniable gender differences between men and women, we may not be built as a species to be happy in love, but instead actively create our happiness in relationships through our drive to procreate and build lasting partnerships.
However, more interesting and educated women going back into the workforce and reclaiming their right of equal-opportunity relationships, in addition to an ageing world population and extension of middle age which contribute to more lasting relations as the older you marry the less likely you are to get divorced, may all be factors for why this century may be more than ever a good time in human history to work out good marriages. It has been obvious anyway that the world now cares more than ever about being in love with people they marry, and has been walking away from uneducated decisions of arranged marriages.
- In her talk, Fisher also identifies six essential elements of Romantic love, concluding that “Romantic love is a drive and not just an emotion, and it is surely stronger than sexual drive.”
A lovely story awaits at the end of the video. Watch here:
2- Why Do You Fall in Love With One Person vs. Another:
It is all in your genes;
Falling for a partner is the outcome of our nature (biology) and nurture (environment), that make us who we are as people, and creates our tendencies to specific types .
When looking at our biology, Fisher identified four “styles of mind”, and based on these types she believes people tend to find mutuality among specific partners, and fall in love with one person vs. another.
Watch the video here, and have fun identifying your style. Who knows.