Anthropologist Helen Fisher studies gender differences and the evolution of human emotions. She's best known as an expert on romantic love, and her beautifully penned books -- including Anatomy of Love and Why We Love -- lay bare the mysteries of our most treasured emotion.
Helen Fisher's courageous investigations of romantic love -- its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its vital importance to human society -- are informing and transforming the way we understand ourselves. Fisher describes love as a universal human drive (stronger than the sex drive; stronger than thirst or hunger; stronger perhaps than the will to live), and her many areas of inquiry shed light on timeless human mysteries, like why we choose one partner over another.
Almost unique among scientists, Fisher explores the science of love without losing a sense of romance: Her work frequently invokes poetry, literature and art -- along with scientific findings -- helping us appreciate our love affair with love itself. In her research, and in books such as Anatomy of Love, Why We Love, and her latest work Why Him? Why Her?: How to Find and Keep Lasting Love, Fisher looks at questions with real impact on modern life. Her latest research raises serious concerns about the widespread, long-term use of antidepressants, which may undermine our natural process of attachment by tampering with hormone levels in the brain.
“[Women] tend to collect more pieces of data when they think, put them into more complex patterns, see more options and outcomes. They tend to be contextual, holistic thinkers.”
“A world without love is a deadly place.”
“I don’t think we’re an animal that was built to be happy; we are an animal that was built to reproduce.”
“Ninety-one percent of American women and 86 percent of American men would not marry somebody who had every single quality they were looking for in a partner, if they were not in love with that person.”
“People live for love. They kill for love. They die for love. They have songs, poems, novels, sculptures, paintings, myths, legends. It’s one of the most powerful brain systems on Earth for both great joy and great sorrow.”
“Romantic love is not an emotion. … It’s a drive. It comes from the motor of the mind, the wanting part of the mind, the craving part of the mind.”
“The main characteristics of romantic love are craving: an intense craving to be with a particular person, not just sexually, but emotionally.”
“When you are madly in love with somebody: You walk into a parking lot, their car is different from every other car in the parking lot. Their wine glass at dinner is different from every other wine glass at the dinner party.”
“With orgasm, you get a real rush of oxytocin and vasopressin — those are associated with attachment. This is why you can feel such a sense of cosmic union with somebody after you’ve made love to them.”
“Women have never been as interesting as they are now. Not at any time on this planet have women been so educated, so interesting, so capable.”
“Women’s worst invention was the plow. With the beginning of plow agriculture, men’s roles became extremely powerful. Women lost their ancient jobs as collectors.”
“There’s all kinds of reasons that you fall in love with one person rather than another: Timing is important. Proximity is important. Mystery is important. You fall in love with somebody who’s somewhat mysterious, in part because mystery elevates dopamine in the brain, probably pushes you over that threshold to fall in love.”
“Millions of years ago, we evolved three basic drives: the sex drive, romantic love and attachment to a long-term partner. These circuits are deeply embedded in the human brain. They’re going to survive as long as our species survives.”
“I think the happiness we find, we make.”
“Romantic love is an addiction: a perfectly wonderful addiction when it’s going well, and a perfectly horrible addiction when it’s going poorly.”
“Romantic love is an obsession. It possesses you. You lose your sense of self. You can’t stop thinking about another human being.”