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Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love
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Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,500 ratings  ·  283 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 beha
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 2nd 2005 by Holt Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2004)
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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 neur ...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 grow ...more
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 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 a ...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 kn ...more
Jul 06, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture, academia
'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 discuss ...more
Moh. 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 i
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.
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 f ...more
Manel radhia
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
To be completely honest, I expected more, I was hoping I'd find some great scientific breakthroughs about love in general, instead there were just some papers and experiments on the brain circuits, it's possible that this all that is to it but I wanted more.
The book was, smoothly written, I loved the combination between the cited poems from different cultures and the scientific research.
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. ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it liked it
it is good to have a scientific exposure to probably the highly acclaimed unscientific emotion
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. ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Helen Fisher did great work in trying to explain the chemistry and nature of romantic love. I felt a lot of her explanations of why romantic love exists and how it affects humans were logical and sufficiently thought through.

She established reasonable connections between the behaviour of humans in romantic love towards our biological history and our biological evolution.

It was interesting to see from another perspective on the big elusive topic of love, which has till today baffled many... I f
Ethan Nguyen
"When I am talking to the person i love, I am often afraid that I will say the wrong thing".

Love emotions are controlled by chemical substances, especially dopamin, norepinephrine and serotonine. One thing important that the less serotonin we have, the more we obsess about you loved one. Lust is our sexual desire for someone, and it's caused by the hormone testosterone.

Why has evolution led us to desire those who are different from us? When two parents with dissimilar DNA mate, their child is l
Katherine Center
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wise, powerful, and kind of revolutionary.
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 fe
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 o
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 lus
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 hi ...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 wer ...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
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.
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 vid ...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 emoti ...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 oth
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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

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