Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love” as Want to Read:
Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,239 ratings  ·  241 reviews
"If you want flashes and particular experiences of romantic love, read novels. If you want to understand this central quality of human nature to its roots, read Why We Love."
Edward O. Wilson

In Why We Love, renowned anthropologist Helen Fisher offers a new map of the phenomenon of love—from its origins in the brain to the thrilling havoc it creates in our bodies and
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 2nd 2005 by Holt Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2004)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Why We Love, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Why We Love

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,239 ratings  ·  241 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love
Elliot johnson
Oct 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
What a huge letdown! Totally overrated. This subject truly fascinates me, but the author merely builds on the research of others and pads it with quotes from popular literature, poetry and song lyrics, as though that proves a point. If you take out all those quotes it's probably half as thick. It's like she just googled "Love" and included every quote she could find. Reads like a so-so undergrad paper. The only thing the author herself actually brings to the table is the notion that certain ...more
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love this book. It provided me with all the hidden secretes there is to love. Once finished with this book I no longer feel dumbfounded about mine or other people’s actions when it comes to romance, lust, commitment and passion. I recommend that everyone reads this book because love is a complex system and Helen Fisher does an amazing job in making it clear that love is not something to fear even when everything doesn’t seem to be working out because love is about an individual’s personal ...more
Jan 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-nerd
i was going through a particularly challenging time in my life when i read this book. it helped put some of my feelings into perspective. i get emotionally attached to people quite easily and though i know it is not purely physiological...i began to more clearly understand my passionate nature. this book was a comfort when i needed it to be, though i am sure it might be boring to some.
For a long time I couldn’t understand why anthropologists call us human animals. We are just pretending to be cultivated; there is so much about humankind and civilisation that still functions from the heart of pure basic primate brain and our evolution is nowhere close to the end. My god. This book should be mandatory read. In the last few months I have read enough of anthropology books to finally start connecting different topics into one unified field and what I’ve learned is that we don’t ...more
Kai Crawford
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
A mediocre book. I'm not arrogant enough to believe that I'm more intelligent than the average reader just because I already knew around 80% of everything that was revealed in this book. The only explanation for this is if Helen Fisher did not actually reveal anything of use to me. The author would summarize a bunch of other peoples' studies, and then say "well, here's all this evidence but I like this one the most". I'm not a scientist but it seems pretty disingenuous for her to randomly pick ...more
Satyaki Mitra
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this wonderful book, the author takes a scientific approach to uncover and understand the perplexing and mystifying aspects of romantic love. The author throughout the course of this book uses findings from her experiments to substantiate that love is not just an ordinary feeling or emotion, rather it is a subtle mix between an urge and emotion, i.e. controlled by a curious interplay among some neurotransmitters/stimulants like dopa-mine,nor-epinephrine,serotonin,vassopresin and oxycontin.
M. Nasiri
Romantic love is the result of chemical processes in the brain.

The origins of romantic love can be traced back 3.5 million years.

As human evolved so did their capacity of romantic love.The appearance of language in 1.8 millions years ago whitin evolutionary development helped expression of love with words.

For thousands of years, people have wondered what the cause of love is. Some believe it is a profoundly spiritual phenomenon, but modern science has proven that it is the result of chemicals in
Hannah Nguyen
Aug 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: summer-reading
I recently read this book and I thought it was average. This book was about the science of love and why we love. It tells you about the different stages of love and how we deal with it on a mental, emotional, physical level within the body and mind. It was somewhat interesting to read and learn about the author's scientific theory of love. This book was based mainly on a couple of functional MRI studies of people in love. I liked all the details of the chemical images of the brains; however, I ...more
Jul 06, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academia, culture
'Why We Love' fails to answer the very provocative question in poses | Disappointingly, it is more pop and less anthropology; she does not even offer a nuanced understanding of the various cultures she discusses (i.e. Australia, Japan) | The most interesting parts of the book were the poets and thinkers the writer decided to quote, but her writing did a poor job of converting those creative expressions into a strong, informative narrative; it was also surprising that there is only a weak ...more
Sep 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a very long book, but I could relate to a lot of the topics covered (though my love tendencies are a bit unusual and I grow strongly attached to some people I have no sexual interest in). I have "abandonment rage" and love addiction, which are covered in this book. I'm a very obsessive person so I related to the obsessive qualities love can take on.
Apr 21, 2013 rated it liked it
it is good to have a scientific exposure to probably the highly acclaimed unscientific emotion
Katherine Center
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wise, powerful, and kind of revolutionary.
Apr 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
I was led to this book after watching Helen Fisher’s 2006 TED talk entitled “Why we love, why we cheat.” Both the talk and the book are largely based on Fisher’s study, begun in 1996, of students at SUNY Stony Brook campus, in which the brain activities of two groups of volunteers were scanned in an MRI. One group reported to be deeply in love, while the other had recently experienced painful breakups. As one would expect, the book contains more details about the study, not provided in the TED ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it liked it
After coming across Dr Helen Fisher's videos on YouTube, I decided to buy this (and her follow-up book, which I'm reading now), as I thought it was about bloody time someone tried to explain, without whimsy, why we love.
According to her research, love is a drive, not simply a feeling. It stems from a place in the brain as all other drives (so love really is a need, like sleep, hunger, etc), and is basically located in our "reward centre". When love is felt and reciprocated, we feel the reward
Feb 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Fisher's book Why we Love is a book about evolutionary biology and its mechanism the biological chemicals to explain the underpinings of mating strategies and romanic love in specific. I think she does a great job weaving poems, famous passages, and myths in order to give feeling to the analytical side of evolutionary biology.

Fisher states that lust, romantic love, and attachment came about because of specific need in mating strategies in order for our species to be prolific. She thinks that
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Helen Fisher's Why We Love is a tour de force of the science on love. Every applicable social science is brought into play, from sociology to neuroscience, we get a look at why humans behave the way they do when they're enthralled. Helen Fisher is an anthropologist who primarily wants to look at the evolutionary reasons why we love, however, and she does this exceedingly well: we look at love from the "big picture" view of mammals, to that of the homo genus's ascendency to man, to that of the ...more
Taylor Kane
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Helen Fisher writes with words that make love sound exciting and wondrous. Her diction and sentence structure is lovely so that can feel the passion for love. Her paragraphs lead into each other and flow, and her inclusion of tiny subtopics within the chapters that juxtapose the genders fits the book's nature. The content of the book, however, lacks greatly. The book was packed with quotes from well known writers. These only somewhat connected to the following topics in the paragraphs. There ...more
Steph Mecham
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
a pop anthropology book with outdated research, fucked up notions re: polyamory, completely ignoring trans people, lgb people, nonbinary people, and asexual/aromantic people. Like...seriously? This book reads like a 1950s era psuedoscience book.
Israel Desta
Sep 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Sooo bad. The author usually contradicts herself, doesnt present well thought out evidence for her claims and also conflates her opinions with facts, anecdotes and even science. And she also quotes a bunch of texts or people without context and completely misunderstsnds the speaker or original author. And that is in addition to her explaining her thoughts on the quotes.
Dec 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Intriguing and insightful look at the evolutionary advantages of and ways that we chemically process romantic love. While the science could get stale, Fisher gives some poignant literary passages to buoy many of her points and offers a refreshingly optimistic outlook to our lives and loves
Dec 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
When this book wasn't making me roll my eyes at its obviousness, it was angering me with its logical fallacies, gross generalizations, sexism, and heterosexual. Yes, I hated it.
Aug 24, 2012 added it
I always wanted to know why and how human beings love. This book sums it up nicely with theories from social psychology, anthropology and biological sciences. Interesting read.
Carl Stevens
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Novelists need to know love.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book is full of bias, contraries and neurotrash.

If you don't want to read the full review here's a real gem for you: "Gays and lesbians in all cultures also feel romantic passion. [...] I feel sure these men and women carry in their brains exactly the same human wiring and chemistry for romantic love as everybody else." Fisher was also very surprised, that an introverted guy's brain would show a reaction in the fMRT: "Do still waters run deep?" - no, genius, introverts aren't capable of
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I have read a book about similar topic on brain chemistry. This book strengthens the idea. So basically there is 3 kinds of love. Sexual desire, romantic, and attachment. These 3 could exist at the same time toward same person (if you are lucky, but rarely), toward different people at same time (mostly in this case). Fisher said we could actually have strong attachment to our spouses but feel like having romantic feeling with a colleague at office, and totally sexually aroused just by a porn ...more
Karan Taneja
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found the book cheerful (sometimes poetry was too much though!), easy-to-understand, and scientifically sound. The author discusses the common 'symptoms' i.e. the effect of love on the mind, the brain, and the body after which she focuses on evidence of love found in various (actually, a lot of) animals. The author also gives a detailed discussion of different hormonal changes and brain activity when one experiences love. One of her main ideas is the distinction between lust, romance and ...more
Mustafa Jamal
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I find this book a very good scientific introduction to the subject "Romantic Love".
It's very informative as it goes through explaining the basic traits and frequent issues of this mysterious phenomenon. I could tell from the simplicity in which the content is written that the author had put a great deal of experience and dedication to it.
I learned about some of the mechanisms by which our brain works during loving. I was also slightly surprised about some of the Darwinian interpretations of
Joshua Witham
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Engrossing and well-written, but ultimately disappointing. Fisher spends the first 80% or so of the book brilliantly dissecting the fragility and volatility of romantic passion, then the last 20% inexplicably advocating for its continued place of reverence in modern culture - while offering up the same tired mechanisms with which relationship therapists have (unsuccessfully) sought to prop up the romantic ideal for decades now. Despite delving into the realm of sociology towards the end of the ...more
Tom Roth
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked this book. Especially the parts about the brain circuit for romantic love and the role of dopamine & norepinephrine were very intersting to read. I also had special interest in the parallels between human love and animal love that Fisher described. However, there is too much "quotes" from literature and poems inbetween the scientific information. It really started to annoy me towards the end of the book.

Also, quite a bit of the book seems to be speculative. Fisher wants to apply her
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The author who is recognized authority on the subject of the love has examined scientifically the process of love in brain and how brain secrets various harmones in different feelings and stages of love. Her viewpoint sounds satisfactory as men fall in love sooner to apparant beauty than the women whose falling in love takes longer time to not only see smartness but also how much men is successful to ensure their financial and economic protection.

Romantic love as we know it has developed
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Innovation for the Fatigued: How to Build a Culture of Deep Creativity
  • Chasing the Sun: The New Science of Sunlight and How it Shapes Our Bodies and Minds (Wellcome Collection)
  • Amazon: How the World's Most Relentless Retailer Will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce
  • Do Pause: You are not a To Do list
  • A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion
  • Why Are We Yelling?: The Art of Productive Disagreement
  • Do Scale: A Road Map to Growing A Remarkable Company
  • Getting COMFY: Your Morning Guide to Daily Happiness
  • The Long View: Career Strategies to Start Strong, Reach High and Go Far
  • Do Breathe: Calm your mind. Find focus. Get stuff done
  • Money: Know More, Make More, Give More
  • Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships
  • The Biological Mind: How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are
  • The Bullseye Principle: Mastering Intention-Based Communication to Collaborate, Execute, and Succeed
  • The Flight: Charles Lindbergh's 1927 Trans-Atlantic Crossing
  • Unlocking Creativity: How to Solve Any Problem and Make the Best Decisions by Shifting Creative Mindsets
  • Lead Like a Coach
  • The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You
See similar books…
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
“Men don't need linguistic talent; they just need courage and words.” 27 likes
“Falling in love was not really a choice; it just struck me.” 23 likes
More quotes…