Is sexual attraction and falling in love due to our body chemistry more than anything else? I read a book a few years ago that answered that question in an interesting, and plausible way. Entitled, Why Him? Why Her?, written by Helen Fisher, this book explained how and why certain hormones affect our personalities and our attraction to others.
I found it interesting because it was based on science, and was surprised to find it startlingly accurate. The author, Helen Fisher, PhD, is a Biological Anthropologist, and according to the bio on her website:
“She is a Senior Research Fellow, The Kinsey Institute, member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Internet dating site Match.com. She has conducted extensive research and written five books on the evolution and future of human sex, love, marriage, gender differences in the brain and how your personality style shapes who you are and who you love.”
So, Ms. Fisher knows a thing or two about her subject matter. She breaks the personality types into four distinct groups, based on hormones. While we all have many hormones in our bodies, most people have more of one hormone than the others, which influences their desires, motivations, and behavior, because the body seeks the “reward” of their particular influencing hormone. The four groups and their hormone of influence are:
Explorers– Dopamine, the hormone of sensation seeking
Builders– Serotonin, the Calming hormone
Directors– Testosterone, the Systemizing hormone
Negotiators– Estrogen, the hormone of Connectivity
All four types are explained in detail- what motivates them, how they interact with others, even negative traits. There is a personality test of multiple choice questions you can take to determine which you are, and most people fall into two personality types, with one being more prominent than the other. For example, you might be an Explorer/Director, and your mate may be a Builder/Negotiator.
The book goes into detail about how the various types might clash, and how to work through it. It helped me to understand, in retrospect, some of the difficulties I had with my first husband who was most definitely an Explorer type, while I was more of a Negotiator. He was constantly seeking adventure and the next new thing, while I was more introspective and wanted a safe place to create. He thrived on being under pressure, where I sought to avoid disruption. Turns out we were hardwired that way.
I thought this concept might be useful to writers in regard to character development. One of the reasons I have always loved reading and writing is my interest in human nature. What causes people to do the things they do? What motivates one person is a deterrent for another. I enjoy finding possible explanations, especially when they are based on measurable science.
If you have a chance, take a look at Ms. Fisher’s website and/or her books. The books are easy to understand, with case studies and plenty of information for follow up, if you choose to learn more.
It has been said you can’t really choose who you fall in love with. Your body really is pre-programmed to seek out certain types of people, whether you know it or not! At least if we have an understanding of how it works, we can improve our chances of making it last, and getting to our own HEA (happily ever after).