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The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,089 ratings  ·  142 reviews
How much control do we have over love? Much less than we like to think. All that mystery, all that poetry, all those complex behaviors sur­rounding human bonding leading to the most life-changing decisions we’ll ever make, are unconsciously driven by a few molecules in our brain. How does love begin? How can two strangers come to the conclusion that it would not only be pl ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 13th 2012 by Current (first published September 1st 2012)
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 ·  1,089 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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Morgan Blackledge
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a blast! It's laugh out loud, nurdy, raunchy fun. It's well written and researched and it's as informative as it is entertaining. If you end up reading it, be prepared to bug the shit out of your friends with all the neurosmut factoids you'll be (over) sharing with them during the coming weeks.

I highly recommend this book, but with a word of caution. If you decide to read this thing, prepare to have (what's left of) your puerile, romantic mysterienism regarding love, sex and attract
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book just explained my whole 20's.

Oh, we are slaves to our chemistry. But that's cool. It's fun to hear about the studies that quantify social behavior we know (eg. girls are attracted to the bad boy) and explain why, exactly, hormonally, that is.
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Besides a few parts (mostly at the beginning on gender essentialism), I really liked this book. It talks about the effects of oxytocin and other hormones on our love lives. At the end of the day, we are animals and it's best to understand how the wiring works and what feelings come with the sexual drive. I mean, the parts about how women behave differently toward different kinds of men during the various phases of their menstrual cycle were mind-blowing. ...more
Aaron Thibeault
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
*A full executive summary of this book is available here:

Love and sex play a central role in the human drama. But when we talk about the emotions and decisions that we make in connection with them, we tend to remain strictly at the macro level, referring to people, and relationships, and our freely made choices. However, in their new book The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction social neuroscientist Larry Young and journalist Bri
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
what the world needs now is oxytocin, sweet oxytocin.

immediately thought of this book when i saw this. haha:

Andrew Langridge
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day", or shall I compare you to my territorial possessions?

Surely, attempting to reduce sex to biology and chemistry is a challenge, and attempting the same with love next to impossible, but these authors boldly attempt to do just that. As with similar attempts to naturalize phenomena for which we have a pre-scientific understanding, the discussion often begins with an 'error theory'. In this case it is the assertion that we do not sufficiently acknowledge the
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction by Larry Young PhD, Brian Alexander

"The Chemistry Between Us" is a fascinating look at social neuroscience. Neuroscientist Larry Young in collaboration with journalist Brian Alexander provides readers with the underlying brain mechanisms behind how we behave in relation to others. This revealing 320-page book includes the following nine chapters: 1. Building a Sexual Brain, 2. The Chemistry of Desire, 3. The Power of Appetite, 4.
Nicole D. Lybrand
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting, albeit somewhat depressing, look at the chemical forces behind love, attraction, and bonding in multiple types of relationships. This book is not anything incredibly revolutionary but it is a readable compilation of scientific studies and has a very good flow for something that involves so many scientific studies. Provides lots of interesting cocktail party tidbits as well! (Shouldn't be read by the hopeless romantics...) ...more
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Although I was interested in the overall concepts of the book, there was a bit too much scientific jargon and focus on rats and voles for my tastes. Still an interesting read...
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It took me 5 months to finish this book because I never take note for non-textbook on the first go. But once I fall in love with a book, I read it a second time with very detailed note-taking. Then I might re-read again for the third time before I shelf it. This is one of those note taking book. It's my top 10 all time favorite among all the favorites. In one sentence:

Compassion is the Law of Evolution and there are absolutey no cultures nor civiliation nor history that can change it. Our human
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some interesting scientific insights about how profoundly we are influenced by a few neurochemicals in the brain. It explores questions like: how much free will do human beings actually possess, why do we love, the paradox of cheating, etc. I especially enjoyed the beginning of the book which discusses the two dissociate phases of hormones that shape our gender and sexuality, and thus explains why one's sex doesn't affect one's perception of their gender at all. ...more
Natsuko Mori
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic
This was an eye-opening and fascinating read, and though a lot of what was said in the book is based partly on hypothesis, I still think it's worth the read. ...more
Liisa Aavik
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really well-written book rich in scientific information about why the brains of different genders are different and gender is not a social construct; exciting examples of how our genetics influence our behaviour; the neuroscience of love and sex; lab experiments with animals about monogamy and polygamy, fetiches; mother-infant bond and breastfeeding etc. I would really suggest to read it, but you have to consider that I am used to and fascinated by science-rich texts and have a good understand ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very fun book to read and laughing out loud about how animal behaviors could reflect to human's.
If you wish to see the grandness or beauty of human love in this book, you might be disappointed!
We are after all the product of chemistry. Our love is control by hormone, only the rationality could
stop us from cheating our partners and spouses( if hormone and alcohol not in the way...)

In the book, at the very beginning, i am already attracted to the "Pseudo-Heroic: The Wonderful Case of Salinas in
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Once every few years a book comes along that summarizes all the relevant science in a field so that the lay person can absorb and evaluate it. This is one of those books. It should stand along side The Myth of Monogamy, and Sex at Dawn on your book shelf. It is great to be living in a time where some of the most profound mysteries of life and humanity are giving themselves up to science. And the science is getting better and better very rapidly.

Once, we learned the earth was round, it is not th
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The fact/this book is about how neurobiological variation can effect a persons behavior when it comes to love, sex and desire.

I like how the author in the end takes up the fact that the society/medical industry/we are trying to change people's brain to the better by making them take medicines.

When the authors writes "what if we cured genius?" It makes me wonder what it is that we actually is trying to change? "The price of genius often does come with antisocial, crummy relationship, and persona
Harry Rice
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
The dynamics of human behavior has always been of interest to me. Science has veered between genetic and environmental determinism, although it is now well known recently that these are not rigid separate categories. "The Chemistry Between Us" adds an important dimension to the discussion: viz. the effect of chemicals on the structure and operation of the brain and thus human behavior. Whatever the intentions of the authors, they have pounded a deep spike in the casket of free will. The more we ...more
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it

Got an uncorrected advance proof of this book.

The chemistry between us is well written, making it an easy read, while relying on scientific studies that will try to demonstrate that the mind does not start as a blank slate, but is heavily influenced by genetics and early development (inside and outside the womb)

A very good follow up on other titles that deal with the brain such as Ramachandran's Work
A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers and Oliver Sack's m
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A terrific introduction to the emerging field of social neuroscience. Because the book is so much more than "the science of attraction", it is a shame that subtitle was chosen. I'm afraid it might put of some readers.

At one point in the book the authors compare the revolution in the understanding human behavior that is coming from the field of social neuroscience to those of Copernicus and Darwin in their respective fields. I first thought this was a bit of a stretch, but a week after finishing
Donna Kirk
Sep 25, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: science-and-math
Read a review in New Scientist. Intrigued.
Monica Fan
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
would not finish it if its not for the class.
I am pretty sure I am not rat.
Christopher Li
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
very interesting, hard to read because of medical jargon though
Anna F
Apr 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
I have never been more entertained by a book I had to read for class.

When I first picked this up for my endocrinology class, I wasn't expecting a fascinating collection of hypotheses and research strung together by tongue-in-cheek explanations. Young really impressed me. There were a few moments in the book where he makes claims based off experiments that don't seem to exactly line up. Also, although he makes several disclaimers that these are all hypotheses, Young seems to avoid confronting the
Alia Makki
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, reading this has been a humbling, mind-steadying, emotional-balancing experience.

It annoyed the hell out of the psychologist in me, but in a good way. It annoyed me in the way that the Universe does when it's telling me to calm down. It annoyed me in an encouraging way that doesn't make me feel defeated or stupid for my life choices. And getting the science on my fluid gender and sexuality did not hurt either.

Delivered in a tone of suppressed giggles, it was easy to forgive even the nurdi
Emily Chandler
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is not what u was expecting when I purchased this book but I was pleasantly surprised with it regardless. I was expecting this book to outline more of a guide for how to take advantage of the subjects discussed and it was more like an overview of the research regarding the issues. I enjoyed reading this and I learned a plethora of new information that I will be able to use throughout my life. One thing in recommend when it comes to this book is that you are completely focused on what you ar ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Found interesting:
- Exposure to hormones have strong effect natally and post-natally (determine sex characteristics and behavior in rats)
- Large percentage of humans in monogamous relationships admit to cheating (anywhere from 20-50%)
- Oxytocin is responsible for bonding in all kinds of situations and helps couples bond after sex and throughout the relationship

Dubious claims:
- Seems to claim that gender is only shaped by biology instead of culture. Both seem to have a strong effect to me
- S
Magdeline Johnson
Dec 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book was a nonfiction read that was rather forgettable. It didn't leave an impression one me at all. I remember that there was a lot of emphasis on the evolutionary and biological perspectives. This book was very lopsided in its discussion and critical thinking regarding attraction and love. There were chapters that were really FUBAR and disturbing towards the end of the book. Honestly, if I could have deep cleaned my brain cells after this read I would gladly have done it! And per usual th ...more
Minh Trang
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Sorry but I skipped the first part (about biologic features of man and woman) and ended up reading from the second.
It is clearly a great book for those striving for scientific knowledge about gender characteristics and behavior, and I was stunned by how research could be illustrated (somehow) easily and "down-to-earth" for general readers.
I love the fact that girls falls for bad boys and the underlying reasons =)) It is indeed true.
However, love is not just simply "a neurochemical con job", whi
This is an interesting book that focuses specifically on brain chemistry in the context of various forms of human relationships. It discusses brain anatomy and chemistry in significant detail and as such requires more than simply a passing interest in the subject.
My only criticism is that the book spends too much time discussing the findings of experimental research conducted on mice. Although research on other animals can provide insight into human behaviour, a significant percentage is not dir
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is unbelievably fascinating!

I have never used so many of my post-it page markers in one single book; I felt like I was marking every page, and sometimes twice or thrice! Halfway through the library version, I had to order my own copy, so that I could keep this book (and all my notations) on the shelf for future reference.

The authors’ writing styles are cohesive and so layman-friendly that they make intricate scientific ideas accessible to the casual reader. Science was never my strong
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