Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray

Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray

by Helen Fisher

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A contemporary classic about love now completely revised and updated.First published in 1992, Helen Fisher’s “fascinating” (New York Times) Anatomy of Love quickly became a classic. Since then, Fisher has conducted pioneering brain research on lust, romantic love, and attachment; gathered data on more than 80,000 people to explain why you love who


A contemporary classic about love now completely revised and updated.First published in 1992, Helen Fisher’s “fascinating” (New York Times) Anatomy of Love quickly became a classic. Since then, Fisher has conducted pioneering brain research on lust, romantic love, and attachment; gathered data on more than 80,000 people to explain why you love who you love; and collected information on more than 30,000 men and women on sexting, hooking up, friends with benefits, and other current trends in courtship and marriage. And she presents a new, scientifically based and optimistic perspective on relationships in our digital age—what she calls “slow love.”This is a cutting-edge tour de force that traces human family life from its origins in Africa over 20 million years ago to the Internet dating sites and bedrooms of today. And it’s got it all: the copulatory gaze and other natural courting ploys; the who, when, where, and why of adultery; love addictions; her discovery of four broad chemically based personality styles and what each seeks in romance; the newest data on worldwide (biologically based) patterns of divorce; how and why men and women think differently; the real story of women, men, and power; the rise—and fall—of the sexual double standard; and what brain science tells us about how to make and keep a happy partnership.

Editorial Reviews

Deborah Tannen
“Will give everyone who reads it a lot to talk about.”
New York Times Book Review
“Delightful to read . . . fascinating.”
Edward O. Wilson
“Fisher weaves a persuasive and consistently surprising new explanation of the roots of human marriage, sex, and love. Her account cuts more deeply than the ordinary literature on human sexuality.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Answers all those puzzling questions that caused your mother (or priest or guidance counselor or gym teacher) to blame God and/or hormones.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Enlightening and controversial.”
Richard Dawkins
“Is romantic love a creation of troubadours and poets, or has it deep evolutionary roots? Is the seven-year itch really the four-year itch? Does true love betray itself in a brain scanner? With the eyes of an anthropologist and the voice of a poet, Helen Fisher lays bare the many worlds and ages of erotic love. And she knows whereof she speaks.”
John Tierney
“For journalists around the world, Helen Fisher has been the go-to authority on love and heartache since the first edition of Anatomy of Love. No one else knows the human heart so well—or explains it with such wit and style.”
John Gottman
“This book is a marvel. I eagerly read everything Helen Fisher writes. She is a national treasure. So illuminating!”
Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
“Our conversations with Helen Fisher were crucial to understanding the current romantic climate. This revised version of Anatomy of Love is a great read for anyone interested in understanding love and romance. Also, Helen was kind enough to blurb our book, so we’d be real dicks not to do the same for her. Luckily, her work is fantastic and no moral dilemma has been posed.”
“Much has changed in the landscape of love and dating since the first edition of anthropologist Fisher’s Anatomy of Love was published over 20 years ago . . . [and Fisher] presents plenty of new data. . . . The recent success of comedian Aziz Ansari and sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s Modern Romance (2015) suggests readers might be looking for further, more serious reading on the topic: Fisher’s book and its hundreds upon hundreds of cited sources won’t disappoint them.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this engrossing, entertaining book, Fisher, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, draws on anthropology and biology to answer eternal questions about love and sex, men and women. Breezy but serious, she cites everything from chimpanzee polities to the !Kung people of the Kalahari Desert to provide details on courting styles, multiple orgasms and homosexuality. Fisher (The Sex Contract) allows that she's not politically correct, and some may be troubled by her assertions that adultery occurs in nearly every culture and that male attraction to beauty and female attraction to money are probably innate. She offers her own theory on challenges to marriage in traditional societies: the proverbial seven-year itch may be better seen as a four-year cycle allowing relationships to endure at least long enough to raise a child through infancy. Surveying reasons (such as the introduction of the plow) for the growth of the sexual double standard in Western society, Esher concludes that increased equality between men and women will restore older traditions of love and marriage. BOMC and QPB alternates; author tour. (Nov.)
Publishers Weekly
In this revised and expanded edition of her 1994 study on the nature of love, lust, and relationships, anthropologist Fisher (Why Him? Why Her?), chief scientific advisor to, applies a wide-ranging, scientific approach to the subject of love and relationships, addressing it from a variety of angles. Drawing on interviews, scientific surveys, anecdotes, and much more, she undertakes to explain “how we court; who we choose; how we bond; why some are adulterous and some divorce; how the drive to love evolved; why we have teenagers and vast networks of kin to rear our young; why a man can’t be more like a woman and vice versa; how sex and romance drastically altered with the invention of the plow.” The result is a dense read that conveys a wealth of information, both useful and trivial, in the attempt to cover every aspect of a vast and mutable subject. Fisher is consistent, however, in keeping the tone light, regardless of whether she is discussing marriage rituals, polygamy, flirting, or incest taboos. At the heart of it all is “the unquenchable, adaptable, and primordial human drive to love.” People seeking easy answers to relationship issues may feel disappointed or overwhelmed, but there’s no shortage of food for thought. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Anthropologist Fisher (senior research fellow, Kinsey Inst.; chief scientific advisor, has revised her classic book on sex and relationships, which was originally published in 1992. The author approaches her subject by referencing crosscultural studies, human physiology, evolutionary biology, psychology, primatology, and statistics, and, with this edition, surveys from online dating services. Topics covered include love and attraction, attachment, monogamy, adultery, divorce, gender differences, sexual politics, and the future of sex. In this newer edition Fisher draws upon the growing body of research on sex and relationships from the neurosciences, the physiology of hormones, paleoanthropology, genetics, sexual orientation studies, and both evolutionary and social psychology. The original portions provide a natural history filled with entertaining and informative anecdotes and narratives that offer context and background. For Fisher, relationships and their cultural accoutrements have come and gone throughout human history, but love remains enduring; it is this sanguineness for love's universality that drives Fisher's understanding of human behavior. VERDICT This work remains a solid introduction to the nature of sex and relationships, albeit cursory in depth of coverage. Highly recommended to readers interested in human sexuality. [See Prepub Alert, 8/24/15.]—Scott Vieira, Rice Univ. Lib., Houston

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Completely Revised and Updated with a New Introduction
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Fisher , a biological anthropologist, is the author of five internationally selling books, including Why We Love and Why Him? Why Her? A Senior Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute, a member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies at Rutgers University, and the chief scientific advisor to, Fisher is a frequent national and international speaker. Her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people; and she lives in New York City.