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Why You Fall For That Person

Why You Fall For That Person

Helen Fisher explains why certain people have chemistry.


Helen Fisher, PhD Biological Anthropologist, has studied romantic love for over thirty years. She is a leading expert on the biology of love and attraction. Let’s see what she has to say, on a day like this, about chemistry; why you fall in love with one person rather than another?

Romantic loves begins as the lover starts to regard another as special, unique. The besotted thinks obsessively about the other and craves emotional union. Fisher states that this passion derives from primitive brain pathways for wanting. “It is a powerful and primordial mating drive that evolved to find and keep life’s most precious gift—an appropriate mating partner”. Fisher uses biological insights to explain mate choice.

She distinguishes between four broad biologically-based styles of thinking and behaving which she links to four broad neurochemical systems:

  • Explorer; creative, Artisan temperament = dopamine
  • Builder; sensible, Guadian temperament = serotonin
  • Director; reasoning, Rational temperament = testosterone
  • Negotiator; intuitive, Idealist temperament = estrogen/oxytocin

Through a questionnaire Fisher’s participants, a random sample of 28.128 heterosexual adult members of a dating website, were categorized in one of the four temperament dimensions. Then she watched who chose whom to date. Fisher found the following matches.

The matches

First, the director and negotiator match. The director needs the negotiator’s empathy, linguistic skills and social traits, while the negotiator is stimulated by the director’s honesty, their goal-oriented focus and self-confidence. They have also a lot in common, especially the way they think meshes. Both like to have relevant and deep conversations, enjoy searching for theories and discussing abstract concepts. They will be good in taking decisions together, as the Negotiator will see all the angles and the director will be decisive.

Second, the builder and builder match. Builders appear to benefit from their many shared strengths. Builders tend to be calm, precise, managerial and social; both like building community ties. Two builders can create a wide, stable, social network. They both long for security and appreciate their mutual loyalty, patience and persistence. Builders are likely to be devoted to domestic stability, overlooking their differences to make their relationship last.

Finally, the explorer and explorer match. Explorers are curious and always seek for adventure. Most explorers are impulsive, energetic, flexible, irreverent and very interested in sex. So they can have great fun together. They won’t argue over irrelevant matters like cleaning the house. Explorers are optimists and are likely to keep their spirits up when life is strained.

For more romantic insights watch Fisher’s TEDtalk:



Photo: Flickr, Kevin Harber

We have chemistry!, by Helen Fisher

reading, novels, fiction, neuroscience, compassion, embodied cognition

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