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Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Monogamy, Adultery & Divorce
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Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Monogamy, Adultery & Divorce

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  461 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Why do we marry? Why are some people adulterous? Why do human beings divorce? What is infatuation? When did human love and sex evolve, and what is the future of the family? In this brilliant book anthropologist Helen Fisher examines the innate aspects of sex and love and marriage, those traits and tendencies that we inherited from our past. She examines flirting behavior a ...more
Paperback, 431 pages
Published November 1st 1998 by Diane Books Publishing Company (first published 1992)
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Caitlin
This was an interesting, if somewhat unsettling, read. In all honesty, I would recommend Dr. Fisher's 2006 TED talk--which was very compelling and succinct--over her book. She's able to elaborate more on the technical details of her work in "Anatomy of Love," and while she never loses focus on her thesis that humans have and always will fall in love, stray, and fall in love again, the poignancy of the whole process is somehow mitigated. I felt a little hollow after finishing the final chapter, a ...more
Muhannad
It was difficult to put this book down, especially for a non-fiction book. Helen Fisher writes like a skilled story teller, and a tiems poetic. Yet the topic is anthropology and human behavious. She managed to turn her solid research into an entertaining read. At many points of the book, it did feel like the information was an overload of what should have been elementary knowledge taught in schools. Not only does she manage to pull together from all ends of research, but she, as a reseracher of ...more
Ariadna73
Me he reido muchísimo leyendo este libro. Cuenta desde un punto de vista científico, los vericuetos del amor romántico, y se pregunta si los animales se enamoran como nosotros los humanos, o si los humanos nos inventamos todo ese cuento del enamoramiento y en realidad solo seguimos instintos como los animales.
Lo que más recuerdo es la descripción de los comportamientos de infidelidad entre los primates, que han sido bien documentados: dos de esos monos que están ""emparejados"" en uniones establ
...more
David
I first heard Helen Fisher talk about relationships on NPR On Being. I was intrigued by what I heard, so I ordered her book from Amazon. I was not disappointed. This is a fascination anthropological book written for a popular audience on human relationships: sex, marriage, and infidelity. Fisher's prose is lucid and elegant. Now, I want to read more books that she has written. I highly recommend this book.
Tara
I enjoyed this book, and it definitely gave me a lot to think about in terms of the biological/sociological urge to pair up and produce offspring.

The main problem in this book for me was that the writer tried too hard to convince me of her point of view. The book was written in defence of a particular theory, not as an exploration of a range of ideas.

I have no objection to the writing holding a particular viewpoint, I just prefer to find my own.
Amna
A very interesting read!
I have been wanting to immerse myself a book like this one for a while.
Numerous anthropological viewpoints and evidences are put on the table to discuss the possible logic behind our search for love and companionship, including a list of clever innate tactics that both genders tend to resolve to as they "entice" one another. Often, arguments and theories are supported by biological, chemical and psychological evidences, making the theories extremely thought-provoking an
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Ria
A fascinating book charting the history of human and animal love through the ages.
Every aspect of love, monogamy, adultery and other aspects of human relationships are dealt with chapter by chapter.
From love / mating in the insect world to primates and human beings.
This is like a biology, psychology, history and natural history lesson all rolled into one.
So many topics are covered it is hard to narrow this book down and pinpoint each section.
A must read on many levels.
Well worth reading whate
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Diana
Sep 25, 2010 Diana marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
In spite of the horribly cheesy cover, this is actually a really intelligent and interesting book....
Sherry
An interesting topic with lots of information from a huge variety of sources. Very dry reading.
Brenda
I would have given this one 4 stars except that the book was written in 1994 so I had this constant nagging that some of the info may have changed in the intervening years. She mostly looks back to our evolutionary past to make sense of monogamy, adultery, and divorce so I don't know how much that info has changed. She also looks at present traditional societies to look for clues.

The basic idea I took away from this book is that serial monogamy with plenty of adultery thrown in seems to be our h
...more
Heather
Well, the book is a little dated. Written long enough ago that it talks about baby boomers being in their late 20's.

As for the content, most of it was intriguing. I'm not sure I buy some of it though. I don't like it when anthropologists act as if they know what went on in the lives of Neanderthals or Cro-Magnon peoples. They don't. It's all speculation and inference.

Another part of the book that bothered me was the description of the sexual practices of certain cultures. I'm not sure I buy wha
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Jenni
Though the the book is a bit dated (written in 1994), I did not find this problematic until the final chapter as the author looked to "Future Sex" (the chapter's exact title). Otherwise, this was easily one of the most fascinating on books I've read on the topics of gender issues; human relationships including courtship, marriage, and relationship dissolution; fidelity and sexual monogamy, and how we reconcile our natural inclinations with our culturally defined expectations.

Coming from a biolog
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Lady Jane
My husband and I went on a romantic date to the bookstore last week where I came across this fascinating gem of a book, Anatomy of Love by Helen Fisher. This book is a scholarly and well-researched analysis of what love is, why we pursue it, why we choose one over another, and how we develop the habits of some of the most common stories in the history of humanity. Anatomy of Love consists of 311 pages which I read in a couple of days-- its lucid comments are intriguing, making it difficult to pu ...more
Doug Arbesfeld
The writer uses a range of research on humans' and animals' sexual behavior plus evolutionary evidence to postulate that the human pattern of courtship, infatuation, marriage, adultery, divorce and remarriage has roots deep in our forebears (hominids, Neanderthals, apes, chimps, etc.) and is often mirrored among other animals.
I particular liked reading about the research on the courting rituals of contemporary humans.
The book tends to drag after a while; she makes her main point early, and the
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Fernando del Alamo
Libro muy interesante que plantea hipótesis de por qué los humanos somos monógamos, adúlteros y nos divorciamos. Para ello, la autora estudia la sexualidad en los primates y en otros animales y luego explica por qué los humanos, al crecer nuestro cerebro y cambiar nuestra forma de vivir, también cambiamos la forma con que nos comportamos en el sexo. También estudia diferentes culturas de todo tipo.

Es un libro largo, por momentos me da la sensación de que plantea demasiadas hipótesis, pero por lo
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Sadie
Excellent treatment of the evolution of relationships, romance, love. She uses her studies in hominid evolution and comparative biology to highlight and give evidence to our current sexual behaviors. She also discusses social and religious evolution as an influence on our opinions on relationships, marriage and sex. Some of it is a reach, but it has led me to want to research more. She has an extensive bibliography which has been interesting to probe.
Regina
Jun 10, 2009 Regina is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Well who isn't interested in that thing called Love? This book presents a full analysis of what love/attraction is, why we pursue it, and with whom. Easy read, clearly written, lucid comments and generally very insightful. Much I knew or guessed but having it presented so clearly helps me to understand our common nature, in spite of different cultural influences and mores.
Kim
A sociologist discusses chemical responses and psychological/sociological research and comparisons of of human and primate mating behaviors, as well as the history of marriage. She also looks at statistics of marriage success worldwide, mating,dating customs around the world today. It's incredibly interesting stuff if you're at all interested in stuff like this-- which I am.
Dri
After I read this book I don't think I can look at human love and connection the same way anymore. Fisher astutely describes the fickle nature of human passions and makes a convincing argument using evolutionary biology theories as to how and why humans pair up. A must read but total downer if you're a romantic.
Sofia Kirschn
General gist I remember seemed to be that infatuation can last up to three years and relationships that make it beyond three years have a greater chance of lasting 'forever'. Like the 'tipping' point in a pregnancy, it's not guaranteed -- just WAY more likely.
Othon Leon
An excellent book. I read it years ago, maybe 10 and I was thrilled by it... I remember I understood physiological aspects of love I never thought they could even exist and helped me very much to understand fundamental aspects of this essential human condition, choice.
Jessica
Great book - interesting theories about monogamy, animal mating rituals and our own evolution as humans. Not necessarily a quick read, however, as it can be a bit wordy at times and "scientific," which didn't always hold my attention.
Marguerite
Mar 31, 2008 Marguerite rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: would-be "Jeopardy" contestants
Recommended to Marguerite by: book review
This book explains (or hazards reasoned guesses about) the laws of attraction in humans and other species in a way that's often laugh-aloud funny. It's an interesting reflection on culture, morality and the sexes.
Kevin
An interesting discussion on just how many of the emotions supposedly behind love, are in fact largely determined by our evolutionary animal nature and are often controlled by chemicals in our brain.
Irene Vizcarra
Very interesting! A bit too detailed, but overall it was a great read and I learned A LOT about the evolution of mating past & present. Book is also a bit dated, but I recommend it nonetheless!
Dale
I read this book several years ago and liked it then, it is a good book and written by a knowledgeable anthropologist with a keen sense of what we are all about. I recommend it highly.
Beatriz
Amazing take on human sexuality, on why we feel infatuated, in love, and all the wonders and intoxications the human body makes itself undergo in order to continue its genetic bloodline.
Michael Hsu
This book is well-researched about love throughout the history of mankind. It talks about relationships, sexuality, romance and other topics related to love. A good read.
Georgiana
Grossly over-generalized, and no distinctions made between different types of relationships sexual orientations (bisexuality doesn't even appear in the index). Life's too short.
Jessica
didn't finish the book, but Fisher definitely has an interesting theory- redefine the modern definition of Monogamy and the species Homo Sapiens are intrinsically monogamous.
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Helen E. Fisher is an anthropology professor and human behavior researcher at the Rutgers University and is one of the major researchers in the field of romantic interpersonal attraction.Prior to becoming a research professor at Rutgers University, she was a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

By many accounts, Fisher is considered the world’s leading expe
...more
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