Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

by Helen Fisher

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A groundbreaking exploration of our most complex and mysterious emotion

Elation, mood swings, sleeplessness, and obsession—these are the tell-tale signs of someone in the throes of romantic passion. In this revealing new book, renowned anthropologist Helen Fisher explains why this experience—which cuts across time, geography, and gender—is a force as powerful as the need for food or sleep.

Why We Love begins by presenting the results of a scientific study in which Fisher scanned the brains of people who had just fallen madly in love. She proves, at last, what researchers had only suspected: when you fall in love, primordial areas of the brain "light up" with increased blood flow, creating romantic passion. Fisher uses this new research to show exactly what you experience when you fall in love, why you choose one person rather than another, and how romantic love affects your sex drive and your feelings of attachment to a partner. She argues that all animals feel romantic attraction, that love at first sight comes out of nature, and that human romance evolved for crucial reasons of survival. Lastly, she offers concrete suggestions on how to control this ancient passion, and she optimistically explores the future of romantic love in our chaotic modern world.

Provocative, enlightening, and persuasive, Why We Love offers radical new answers to the age-old question of what love is and thus provides invaluable new insights into keeping love alive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466829442
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/02/2005
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 615,932
File size: 527 KB

About the Author

Helen Fisher, Ph.D., is one of this country's most prominent anthropologists. Prior to becoming a research professor at Rutgers University, she was a research associate at Manhattan's American Museum of Natural History. Fisher has conducted extensive research on the evolution, expression, and science of love, and her two most recent books, The First Sex and The Anatomy of Love, were New York Times Notable Books. She lives in New York City.

Dr. Helen Fisher, referred to by Time magazine as “the queen mum of romance research,” is an internationally renowned biological anthropologist and one of the world’s leading experts in the science of human attraction. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, she studies the brain in love. And with her long-standing research, she helped develop one of the fastest-growing online relationship sites, Chemistry.com, a subsidiary of Match.com. Introduced in February 2006, Chemistry.com features the Chemistry Personality Test and Matching System, both developed by Fisher. To date, more than seven million people have taken the test, which is available in forty countries. In addition to serving as the chief scientific adviser for Chemistry.com, Fisher has authored four books and many articles in scientific journals and popular magazines. Her perspective on love, sexuality, women, and gender differences is regularly featured in major news outlets, including The Today Show, CNN, National Public Radio, BBC, and The New York Times. As a research professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, she focuses on the role of biology in human sex, love, and marriage.

Fisher’s widely anticipated book Why Him? Why Her? (Henry Holt and Company; January 20, 2009) proves her scientific hypotheses about why we are attracted to one person rather than another. Why Him? Why Her? follows Fisher’s 2004 book, Why We Love (Henry Holt), which was translated into sixteen languages. It discussed her research on the brain physiology, evolution, and worldwide expression of romantic love. In her 1999 book, The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World—which received the New York Times Book Review Notable Book award and was published in fourteen languages—she discussed gender differences in the brain and behavior, and the impact of women on twenty-first-century business, sex, and family life. Fisher’s other books include Anatomy of Love: The Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray (1992), also a New York Times Notable Book, with nineteen foreign-language editions; and The Sex Contract: The Evolution of Human Behavior (1982), translated into five languages. Her articles have appeared in The Journal of Comparative Neurology, Journal of Neurophysiology, Archives of Sexual Behavior, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, The Journal of NIH Research, Psychology Today, Natural History, New Scientist, The New York Review of Books, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other journals, magazines, and books.

Fisher received her PhD in biological anthropology at the University of Colorado with a dissertation on the evolution of human female sexuality and the origin of the nuclear family. She has been on the national lecture circuit since 1983. Lectures include speeches at the American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, World Economic Forum (Davos), TED, LeWeb, Harvard Medical School, the United Nations, the Salk Institute, American Psychiatric Association, the Brookings Institution, American Press Institute, American Society of Newspaper Editors, and Fortune magazine, as well as academic and business conferences in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. For her work in communicating anthropology to the lay public, Fisher has received the American Anthropological Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

Read an Excerpt

Why We Love

The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

By Helen Fisher

Henry Holt and Co.

Copyright © 2005 Helen Fisher
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-2944-2

From Why We Love:

All of our basic drives are exceedingly difficult to control. It is impossible to sublimate or redirect thirst or hunger. It is difficult to quell the maternal instinct. And it is very tough to control one’s persistent craving for a sweetheart. We need food. We need water. We need salt. We need warmth. And the lover needs the beloved. Plato had it right over two thousand years ago. The God of Love “lives in a state of need.” Romantic love is a need; it is a fundamental human drive.

The drive to love has produced some of humankind’s most compelling operas, plays, and novels, our most touching poems and haunting melodies, the world’s finest sculptures and paintings, and our most colorful festivals, myths, and legends. Love has adorned the world and brought many of us tremendous joy. But this passion is fickle. When love is scorned, it can cause excruciating sorrow. Romantic rejection, crimes of passion, and high divorce and adultery rates are prevalent in societies around the world.

Romantic love is one of the most intense of all human experiences; blissful when it is requited; devastating when it is spurned. I think it is time for a serious attempt to answer Shakespeare’s question: “What ‘tis to love?”


Excerpted from Why We Love by Helen Fisher. Copyright © 2005 Helen Fisher. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
100% interesting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Why We Love is a great book to read due to its factual content based on scientific research as of to how and why opposites attract and the ongoing process that continues as love progresses into romantic and attachment or mature love which is the culmination towards a healthy interpersonal relationship with the opposite sex. Why We Love provides great informative reading that promotes a general understanding at why people of both genders behave the way do during the four phases of Love which are: Lust,Romantic Attraction,Deepening Affection,and Attachment.
nyc_dancer More than 1 year ago
A fascinating read about the science of love and why we love. It tells you everything about the different stages of love and how we deal with it on mental, emotional and on a physical level within the body and mind. Really a good read if you're into psychology too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found Fishers writing style, her vagueness in addressing such topics, and her failure to elaborate on them quite annoying. However, her case study was interesting and did yield solid results.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For anyone out there interested in learning not only about the chemicals our brain releases when we're in love, but also to learn so much about the human brain in such a captivating way...not a boring medical book, but one that teaches you scientific information without you even realizing it! It's one that I refer to often and refuse to loan out.
bmorecats More than 1 year ago
This book just wasn't very interesting to me. So much of it was quotations from literature about how people in history have felt when they were in love (this isn't what I purchased the book for). I found the author repetative, saying the same thing over again in different ways. Personally I would have preferred to learn more studies that were done and the results of those. Additionally, a few of her theories at the end of the book regarding rage and anger while being in love contradicted things she wrote earlier. Finally I would have loved to learn more about how men and women are biochemically different when in love. In short, I'm very interested in this subject matter but I didn't love the book. I did learn a little. I learned more, however, from the books I reccommend below.