It's probably a good match, says Helen Fisher, PhD, a cultural
anthropologist from Rutgers University and a leading researcher on love,
attraction, and romance. One of her findings: Biology matters, and these two
people's biology -- their chemical "profiles" -- may complement each
In recent years, Fisher and a host of other researchers have been looking
deep into our psyche and brains -- helped by high-tech imaging and genetic
analysis. They've come up with some intriguing information about what makes us
become attracted to someone, what underlies the crazy-in-love feeling, what's
up with the transition from butterflies to a more comfortable relationship, and
what keeps us attracted.
"It's all much less of a mystery than it was five years ago and
certainly 30 years ago," says Arthur Aron, PhD, a professor of psychology
at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and another top researcher
in the field. The science of the biology of love is relatively new. Research
picked up steam in the 1980s, Aron says, and since then experts have made
multiple discoveries. Here's a sampling of their findings:
The Biology of Love: Biology Matters
When it comes to whom you are attracted to, "your biology plays a
role,'' says Fisher, who wrote Why We Love and several other books. It's
not only a similar socioeconomic status, level of education and family
backgrounds that make people attractive to you, she says, but also hormones --
ones that differ from your own.
We're attracted, Fisher says, to those with a chemical "profile" for
estrogen, testosterone, dopamine, and serotonin that's different from our own,
yet complements it. For instance, she says, "If you tend to be high
estrogen, you will gravitate to the high testosterone type.''
That explains why Mr. Analytical and Driven and Ms. Gregarious and Warm are
a match. He's probably a ''high testosterone'' type, Fisher says, and she is
probably a "high estrogen" type. "For good Darwinian reasons, they
are very complementary," says Fisher. She can likely see many ways of doing
things and become indecisive. To the rescue, the analytical man. Likewise, she
might inspire more compassion in him. Fisher is working with chemistry.com, an
offshoot of match.com, to develop this chemical profile match strategy.
The Biology of Love: Your Brain in Love
Love involves three basic brain circuits, according to Fisher. There's the
sex drive, which motivates us to seek out partners; romantic love, the
in-the-clouds feeling when you first fall in love; and the attachment phase,
the comfortable-but-fewer-fireworks stage.
"The sex drive is a very simple drive," Fisher says. "It's
simply the craving for sexual gratification, driven largely by testosterone in
both men and women."