April 22, 2009 Love Synapse
Love Maps or Love Synapse? How much of our personality and love life is ruled by psychology and how much by biology? Anthropologist Helen Fisher thinks she has a pretty good idea. I read her book, Why Him? Why Her? today. I was skeptical at first, but her book turned out to provide some interesting insights. And despite the effort to label people and put down a template over relationships, Fisher acknowledges that her model if far from complete. She explores love’s synapses, but allows room for the idea of love maps.
Here’s what I learned in summary. People tend to fall in love with other people of the same ethnic and socioeconomic background usually. They often share similar levels of intelligence, education and attractiveness. They may also hold the same or similar religious views, political views, social values and sense of humor. Birds of a feather do flock together, but opposites sometimes do attract.
Fisher breaks personalities down into four basic types. Interestingly, these types sound a lot like descriptions of various zodiac signs—earth, water, air and fire.
We have Explores who are curious, creative, adventurous, sexual, impulsive and self-reliant. They like to travel, are passionate and full of Dopamine! The thrill seeking and novelty aspect of the Explorer is linked biologically to the chemical Dopamine. The dark side of the Explorer is that they can be bored, restless, disorganized and don’t often self-analyze. If you talk with an Explorer, they will want to know what you do.
Explorers are compatible with other Explorers. However, they can connect with Negotiators as well. Explorers and Directors make a good match too. Although, the Explorer is opposite of the Builder and doesn’t often connect to them, a match between an Explorer and a Builder may work if they balance each other out. Keep in mind that Explores often look for playmates rather than soulmates!
A Builder is calm, persistent, loyal, traditional, cooperative, social and managerial. Builders are drawn to other builders. Builders and Directors don’t generally work well together. Builders and Negotiators are not naturally drawn to one another, but they can work together sometimes. The Builder is looking for a helpmate and is driven by Serotonin.
Directors are analytical, decisive, focused, inventive, competitive, and strategic minded. Directors match well with Negotiators. This is the one time where opposites do attract. They are complementary to one another and problem solve together quite well. Their thinking meshes. Directors will always want to know what you think and are attracted to mindmates. Directors can be women, but they are more often men and driven by testosterone.
Negotiators are imaginative, verbal, intuitive, idealistic, agreeable, and introspective and love to know what other people are feeling. Oxytocin is responsible for their Empathy Abilities and Estrogen is what drives them. Negotiators are known for their verbal abilities and using their mirroring neurons in social situations.
Anyway, Fisher explains that falling in love has to do with timing. It is often when we are the most vulnerable that love finds us. When we are in between things—like jobs, relationships or homes we are more likely to fall in love. Living and working in close proximity to a prospective match helps. We are often familiar with those whom we fall in love with, but being too familiar can sometimes prohibit romance from blooming. Looks, shape, voice, rhythm, and odor all factor into our choices. Once a person is sized up, then the courtship begins. She says that men often overestimate a woman’s sexual interest in him, while women underestimate a man’s willingness to commit. Casual sex can lead to love and kissing is very important.
Kissing raises the levels of Oxytocin in the bloodstream. It lowers the levels of Cortisol. Men pass Testosterone to women via saliva, thus making her more inclined to have sex with him!
In closing, she gives some advice to the various personality types. To Negotiators she says: stick up for yourself, don’t placate, avoid a verbal deluge, keep a healthy skepticism so as not to be gullible, don’t over analyze, never multitask on a date and act confident even if you are not. Fisher warns other types that above all, Negotiators admire warmth and want to know your feelings.
So all of that deals with Love Synapse, but what is a Love Map? A Love Map is the term given to all of our prior experiences. The term describes the psychology of whom we choose. Typically, it takes into account what kind of relationship we had with our parents and our early experiences with romance. Our Love Maps are unique and are an entirely different entry!