Fisher, Helen. Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love
Fisher, Helen. Why We Love. The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love.
1. What happens chemically when people fall in love? What are the chemicals in our brain that contribute to romantic love and how are they triggered? Why do we choose who we choose as lovers? What are men attracted to? And women?
2. Aristotle thought there was a standard for physical beauty. Do you agree? Do well proportionate people are more attractive? What does Fisher think (she talks about the “hip-waist” ratio in women and “highly symmetrical men”)
3. Do you agree with Helen Fisher when she says that “Romantic love does not necessarily go hand in hand with the urge to attach to a mating partner over a long period? You can fall in love with someone from a different walk of life whom you never wish to marry. And you can feel romantic passion for one person while you feel deeply attached to another, usually a spouse. Moreover, you can have sex with someone for whom you feel no romantic love, even feel romantic passion for one individual while you copulate with another.”? Explain.
4. Fisher talks about “American philanderers” (people who have children by their clandestine partners) and quotes a study from 1998 saying that 10% of children tested in a screen for genetic diseases were not the offspring of their legal fathers. According to Fisher, why do women lie about that?
5. Explain the “spurned lover” behaviour. What are the symptoms and in which ways men and women react differently?
6. Explain the “separation anxiety” syndrome.
7. How can love be kept alive?
8. According to Fisher, in hunting/gathering societies children may begin sex and love as early as five years old. At what age do kids start to play “house” and “doctor” in our modern world? What should we do about it? When should children be allowed to love/to have sex?
9. Comment on this quote by Ayala Pines (psychologist) “We choose a mate who is similar to the parent with whom we have unresolved childhood issues; unconsciously we are seeking to resolve this natal relationship in adulthood”
10. Comment on this quote by Theodore Reik “Tell me whom you love and I will tell you who you are and, more importantly, who you want to be”
11. Comment on this quote by Actress Mae West “Men like women with a past because they hope history will repeat itself”
12. Explain Fisher’s concept of love as a drug or as an addiction.
Fisher, Helen. Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love
Why We Love was written by Helen Fisher and presents results of a research that was done by Fisher on 32 people who had fallen madly in love. Using the results, the author explains what one feels when they fall in love, why someone chooses to love one person and not another one and how sex drive and attachment to a partner are affected by romantic love.
What happens chemically when people fall in love?
1. According to Fisher, when people fall in love they experience an increase in the blood flow in their brains and the primordial regions of their brains brighten up creating a romantic feeling. The people in love develop increased energy; they experience lack of sleep and mood swings and do not feel like eating. They also get exited whenever they see objects of the person they have fallen in love with (Fisher, 2004). Helen Fisher says that the chemical in our brains that contribute to romantic love is the neurotransmitter dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin which trigger a strong rush of pleasure which in turn triggers desire and reward (Fisher, 2004).
Fisher says that we choose who we choose as lovers because of the level of the level of the chemicals, dopamine, norepinephine and serotonin produced in the brain (Fisher, 2004). We choose people from our social class and those that are physically attractive to us for example, men with symmetrical bodies or women with a hip to waist ratio of 70%. The personality dictates the kind of person one chooses to love. The author says that women find themselves attracted to wealthy men while men are attracted to physically beautiful women. (Fisher, 2004).
2. I do not agree with Aristotle’s argument that there s a standard for physical beauty because the physical appearance may be attractive to the eye, yet an individual’s character is bad. I believe that true beauty is in the character and not on the physical appearance. Helen Fisher says that well proportionate people are more attractive to the eye for instance men are look at the hip-waist ratio in women and women are attracted to the highly symmetrical men.
3. I agree with Fisher that romantic love does not necessarily go hand in hand with the urge to attach to a mating partner over a long period of time because a person can have deep feelings of attachment to a long term partner and have feelings of romance for a different person. It is possible for a person to fall in love with someone they never want to spend the rest of their time together. One can feel attached to their spouse but do not necessarily have romantic feelings towards them. Sex drive is not always directed on a specific person; one can feel it when driving alone in their car that is why it is possible for one to have sex with someone they do not feel romantic love for.
4. Fisher talks people who have children by their clandestine partners and quotes a study from 1998 saying that 10% of children tested in a screen for genetic diseases were not the offspring of their legal fathers. According to Fisher, women lie about that because they want to gain more protection for the children they already have.
5. Spurned lover behavior refers to the way a person behaves when they are rejected by their lover or spouse. Men and women react differently to rejection by a spouse but the symptoms include rage, hatred and despair.
6. Separation anxiety syndrome refers to a psychological disorder whereby a person develops anxiety about being separated from the people they are emotionally attached to.
7. Love can be kept alive by constant communication and mutual respect for one another. It is essential for spouses or lovers to be open to each other regarding any issue that affects their feelings towards each other. When two people confront issues immediately they ensue in terms of a conversation, they are able to realize their faults a rectification mechanism is put in place before the feelings of hatred ensues due to one person constantly offending the other.
8. Kids start to play house and doctor in our modern world from age two through to age seven. Children should be taught good morals and openly engaged in educative dialogues with their parents about the dangers of involving themselves in sexual activities at such early years of their lives. When parents keep their children informed regarding sex education, they are able to avert some of the negative outcomes of such acts among their children and foster healthy living.
9. The quote by Ayala Pines (psychologist) “We choose a mate who is similar to the parent with whom we have unresolved childhood issues; unconsciously we are seeking to resolve this natal relationship in adulthood” is true. This is because our love lives are greatly affected by our childhood experiences and whenever we had misunderstandings with one of our parents, the unresolved stalemate is bound to influence how we choose a spouse in order to seek an opportunity to resolve the issues. However, this is not a positive phenomenon because in the event that the issues are not solved, there is a likelihood of constant conflicts in such a relationship. A person may end up being psychologically disturbed the rest of their lives because of such cases.
10. The quote by Theodore Reik “Tell me whom you love and I will tell you who you are and, more importantly, who you want to be” means that the people we choose to be with reflect who we are because we tend to choose people from our own social class and that our personality affects the choices of people we choose to be with. Whenever two people meet and realize that they are attracted to each other, chances are that a great part of their personalities are similar which makes them compatible.
12. Fisher says that love is like drug addiction because the parts of the brain that are activated by drugs are the same ones that are activated when one falls in love. The chemical dopamine is the chemical in the brain that is released when one uses drugs and when one is in love.
Therefore, when people
fall in love, there is an increase in blood flow in their brains. The chemicals
that contribute to romantic love include dopamine, norepinephrine and
serotonin. It is worth noting that different people make different choices of
those they fall in love with.
Fisher, H., (2004). Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. Holt Paperbacks.