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Why We Love summary

Helen Fisher

The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

4.3 (196 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

'Why We Love' by Helen Fisher is a scientific exploration of the evolution of love and how it affects our brains. It offers insights into the various stages of love and what makes us attracted to certain types of people.

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    Why We Love
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    The characteristics of romantic love are universal.

    When we’re in love, we feel like we’re experiencing something unique to us. But, looking back across time and cultures, there are symptoms everyone feels when they fall in love.

    One common symptom is the significance we give to those we love. We become intensely focused on our beloved, and they pervade our thoughts, dreams and actions. We believe they are unique and flawless, and idealize them to the extent that we see everything they do – even their weaknesses – through rose-colored glasses. 

    For example, your beloved might have crooked teeth or a speech impediment like a lisp. And although these imperfections are generally seen as unattractive, you perceive them as part of their cuteness or specialness because they belong to the one you love. 

    These feelings of love are shared by people across the world. 

    The author’s studies have shown that these experiences of love are the same for everyone – independent of age, culture or sexual orientation. 

    But surely there are differences in how love is experienced around the world, right?

    Indeed, but where differences between societies exist, there are clear cultural explanations. In one of the author’s studies, many more Japanese than American participants agreed with the statement “When I am talking to [the person I love] I am often afraid that I will say the wrong thing.” This can be explained by the fact that, in Japanese society, meeting a member of the opposite sex is more formal and less frequent than in America. This shyness is therefore a consequence of culture, rather than the love itself being different.

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    What is Why We Love about?

    Helen Fisher’s Why We Love (2004) is not only a report on her latest astonishing research but a sensitive description of the infinite facets of romantic love. This book is a scientifically grounded examination of love that reveals how, why and who we love.

    This is a Blinkist staff pick

    “Curious to find out why love affects our brains the same way as cocaine? Want to understand how evolution is linked to the prevailing structure of monogamy? A perfect title for those interested in the biological side of love.”

    – Justyna, Web Product Designer

    Why We Love Review

    Why We Love (2004) by Helen Fisher explores the science behind romantic love and why it is such a fundamental human experience. Here are three reasons why this book is worth reading:

    • Delving into neurobiological research and evolutionary theory, Fisher unveils the fascinating mechanisms behind attraction, attachment, and the chemistry of love.
    • By examining cross-cultural perspectives and historical context, the book offers insightful revelations about how love shapes our lives and relationships.
    • Fisher's compelling storytelling and relatable examples make the book highly engaging, ensuring that the exploration of love never becomes dull or mundane.

    Best quote from Why We Love

    Very important, all of the basic drives are associated with elevated levels of dopamine. So is romantic love.

    —Helen Fisher
    example alt text

    Who should read Why We Love?

    • Anyone who wants to understand romantic love
    • Anyone interested in emotions and the brain
    • Anyone who wants to maintain the feeling of romantic love in their relationship

    About the Author

    Helen Fisher is an American biological anthropologist recognized as a leading authority on the subject of love. She has published five books describing the evolution and experience of love.

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    Why We Love FAQs 

    What is the main message of Why We Love?

    Discover the science behind the most powerful emotion with Why We Love.

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    Is Why We Love a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Why We Love is a fascinating exploration of the complexities and mysteries of love that is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Why We Love?

    Helen Fisher is the author of Why We Love.

    What to read after Why We Love?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Why We Love, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis
    • The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
    • How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
    • The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
    • Come Together by Emily Nagoski
    • Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller
    • Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin
    • Click by Rom and Ori Brafman
    • To Have Or To Be? by Erich Fromm