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Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,091 ratings  ·  95 reviews
First published in 1992, Helen Fisher’s “fascinating” (New York Times) Anatomy of Love quickly became a classic. Since then, Fisher has conducted pioneering brain research on lust, romantic love, and attachment; gathered data on more than 80,000 people to explain why you love who you love; and collected information on more than 30,000 men and women on sexting, hooking up, ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1992)
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,091 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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May 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution
I am not sure where to start. This book was one colossal dichotomy. If Fisher had presented her evidence in a responsible manner, this would have been a 5 star book all the way. So many things to love! But, even though it had some of the most exciting neuroscience research on love that I have read about to date, the overreaching conclusions at which Helen Fisher arrives has rendered it a pseudoscientific book. What a shame. There was so much here to work with.

Reading this book is a lot like rea
Michael Canoeist
Jun 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sex, unfinished
Helen Fisher sounded so interesting years ago on a NPR interview, I made a note to read this book. Took me 10 or 15 years to get to it. Maybe that was the problem, although I think not. Her technique is to discuss mating practices across myriad species, and meld that with statistics on human behavior. OK, fair enough, although there is vast room for selection bias. But after doing all that, she offers her theory with nothing more than: "Perhaps humans have the same impulse as the tse-tse fly in ...more
Apr 08, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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.
Dov Zeller
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Whelp, this "non fiction" book essentializes gender and sex in ways I would consider highly fictional. Also, I thought it was pretty poorly written and fyi didn't make it to the half way mark. An interesting topic with some intriguing research and poor analysis. Apparently she has a 2006 ted talk out that's not bad. Not sure I will bother watching it.
Morana Mazor
Zgodan (znanstveni) pregled muško- ženskih odnosa.. Knjiga koju uvijek možeš malo prolistati i pročitati koji odlomak.
Patti's Book Nook
I picked this up on the recommendation of Rebecca Schinsky from Book Riot. As a psychology major, she always seeks out smart nonfiction titles. Fisher originally published this in 1992, and while I had wanted to read that edition for some time, the online dating and texting environment of modern times has made many parts obsolete. In the prologue, Fisher admits that most of this book is new.

Quick note: Don't let the length of this text put you off. It's technically only 320 pages, with the las
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Donald Powell
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthropology
Packed with fascinating information and analysis. The writing is clear, organized and consistent. She uses great quotes and analogies. She shows incredible insight! There are huge subjects and competing powers at play in this study and discussion. The anthropology is given a great weight and she has obviously studied, thought and compared to draw her conclusions. The book is certainly "food for thought" and will rattle in my brain for a long time. The battle of moving humanity toward less selfis ...more
Eli Mandel
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only essential piece of history not covered in this excellent book is the development of the Kleenex.
William Irvine
Apr 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Caveat: Have just read the 1992 edition and learned (after the event) Helen Fisher has updated this extensively in light of new evidence

As a school sixth-former I was lucky enough to attend a series of extra-curricular classes on comparative religion and alternative approaches to ethics. Whilst I was enthralled to learn for the fist time the tenets of the world’s major religions - plus what the Stoics, Epicureans and Hedonists had to say; there was a problem. The classes were taught by a dye-in-
Sireesha Avvari
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Loved it to the core. Many of my questions related to love and marriage have been answered. Very thorough.
Parvu Andreea
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was thinking for a couple of times to buy or not to buy this book. Reading the title, my first impression was “not another love book” :) but after seeing Helen performing on the stage, she convinced me.
Then I knew it was all about science, evolution and anthropology. It is a perfect combination between real facts, how other species react in various situations. We humans, are not that special :) it is clear that we evolved together with all other species and we still have a lot of things to le
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the longer reads I've completed on love, Fisher builds a compelling case that despite our best intentions, evolution has encoded us to move in and out of pair-bonding relationships for most of our lives, especially during fertile child rearing years. Nature adopts what works for survival of the species and in the case of emotional love, feelings aren't considered. Depending on where you're at in your life and what state your relationship(s) is (are) in (I expect somewhere in the range of ...more
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
میتونست نمره خیلی بهتری بگیره اگر نویسنده انقدر دنبال فرضیه دادن و نتیجه گیری نبود(مطالعاتش جالب بود اما بنظر من خیلی زود و عجولانه ست که قاطعانه نتیجه ای گرفته بشه)
بخش تکاملی پیرامون عشق و سکس واسه من خیلی چیز جدید و جالبی بود. حین خوندن کتاب وقتی نویسنده قاطعانه میگفت فلان چیز به این دلیله خیلی دچار چالش می شدم: نمیدونم چرا همش شک داشتم نظر شخصی خودش رو در قالب فکت علمی بیان کنه.
من مطالعاتم در این زمینه خیلی محدوده و بنظرم برای شروع کتاب خوبی بود.
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.
Aug 03, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006-2010
An interesting topic with lots of information from a huge variety of sources. Very dry reading.
Diana Tilson
In spite of the horribly cheesy cover, this is actually a really intelligent and interesting book....
Laura Dam
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, autoras
A really enlightening, well-researched book. A true eye-opener and a very enjoyable read.
Lady Jane
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Much of the information presented I had already surmised and even written about it in the past. However, it’s a whole different matter to read something from the perspective of a biological anthropologist. She explains it clearly, which helps me to reinforce my educated guesses and understand our common nature, in spite of different cultural influences and morals. Helen Fisher uses her studies in hominid evolution and comparative biology to illustrate and give evidence to our current mating beha
John Pyrce
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fisher is an anthropologist. Besides research, she works with an online dating site conducting surveys and presumably advising. She is also a poetic writer.

Fisher looks at love and romance through the lenses of evolution, evidence from modern hunter/gather societies that live like our prehistoric ancestors, patterns among the other apes and especially chimpanzees, and survey data. Its an attempt to put human mating habits in the context of humans as animals. She covers a lot of ground previously
Brian Brenner
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting anthropological, psychological and sociological analysis of love, sex and romantic relationships. Contains much of the same and/or similar information to that of Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan, but the author here is more neutral in tone and expansive in scope. Whereas Sex at Dawn primarily dealt with sex and the evolution of monogamous and polyamorous cultural norms, this book discusses a wider range of topics including romantic love, pair bonding, attachment theory, mate addiction ...more
Rebekah Gamble
What an incredible book and reference. Fisher leaves no stone unturned- she works through the fossil record, the history of agriculture, language, religion AND symbolic thinking, anthropological examples of various cultures in different stages of development, examines patterns in nature with both primate relatives and other animals, and addresses issues of patriarchy without turning every problem in the world into a race or gender issue. Though there are a few times she makes an argument based o ...more
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I wondered why Fisher delved so deeply into the anthropological aspects of potential ancestral romantic and sexual pairing, but she brought it full circle at the end drawing connections between primate behavior and primitive men's and women's behavior and the shaping of romance and sex in our modern society.
She also provided a clear explanation as to the division from this natural or historic behavior through the establishment of agrarian societies and religion.
I ended up really liking this bo
Thu Hoài
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I appreciate how much data and information Fisher has accumulated over her years of researches, and her ability to put into simple words everyone understands. It is, indeed, a history book, as she mainly dove into our past history of mating and marriage. A great deal of this book is spent on the mating behavior of other primates, our homo ancestors and native tribe worldwide. The evolutionary explanation and resemblance between human and other species seemed plausible as it served her points, bu ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting ideas but no evidence or explanation behind them. Lots of "I suppose..." "It's likely that..." "I can imagine that 5m years ago a female would..." I started skipping huge sections of this book when it became apparent that none of it was backed by evidence and was just a story

I think the worst part of this book is when she asserts that men and women are equally likely and driven to have multiple sexual partners and gives as an example a woman in Africa who when interviewed and asked w
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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