Your Brain And “Love”: Choosing The Right Type To Marry, And Stay Together — Happily!

Your Brain And “Love”: Choosing The Right Type To Marry And Stay Together – Happily!

John J. Stathas, Ph.D., LMFT

Most people do not understand what the nature of “love” is. They just know how they feel when they are “in love”. I would like to have you know more about the complexity of “love” from brain types and the chemicals associated with “falling in love” and staying “in love” over time. It is fascinating information and very relevant in a practical sense when choosing a mate and attempting to stay happily married to that person over time. I am indebted to Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and professor at Rutgers University. She has presented this information in the Family Therapy Journal, Science of Love edition. Her article is entitled “The Brain, How We Fall in Love, and How We Stay Together”. She is a pioneer in doing brain imaging, and its chemical interactions, on this topic.  I will present some of her salient points and add a few of my own. Stay with me on this. I think you will find it fascinating and even relevant!

Dr. Fisher states that romantic love is one of three different brain systems that have evolved over time for mating and reproduction. One is the SEX DRIVE, the craving for sexual gratification, linked primarily with testosterone in both men and women. The second is ROMANTIC LOVE – elation, giddiness, euphoria, possessiveness, obsessive thinking, and high motivation. The third brain system is ATTACHMENT: that sense of calm and security that you can feel with a long term partner.

Dr. Fisher opines that there are two parts to your personality: your CHARACTER – everything you’ve been brought up to believe, do, say, and think – and your TEMPERAMENT – all those traits that come from your biology.

Further, she states that there are four brain systems that are linked with styles of thinking and behaving: dopamine, serotonin, estrogen, and testosterone. They are all linked together in one way or another in a constellation of personality traits. Thus, the more practical implications of this research as Dr. Fisher identifies four different temperament personality types and how they can mesh with each other in regard to love and long term satisfaction. See if you can identify with any one of these types – and the implications for your relationship with a potential or present mate.

THE EXPLORER: Linked with the dopamine system in the brain tend to be novelty seeking, curious, risk taking, creative, spontaneous, energetic, generous, mentally flexible, independent, autonomous, and tend to look outward, not inward.

THE BUILDER: Linked with the serotonin system. These people tend to be cautious, but not fearful, social, popular, want to belong. They tend to be traditional, conventional, orderly, meticulous, quite literal, more religious, and make good managers.

THE DIRECTOR: Linked with the testosterone system. They tend to be analytic, logical, direct, decisive, tough-minded, good at rule-based systems like math, engineering, mechanics, computers, etc… They are not very social.

THE NEGOTIATOR: Linked with estrogen and oxytocin systems. They see the big picture. Estrogen builds many more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain and between the front and back of the brain. They are imaginative, intuitive, have very good verbal skills, and excellent people skills. They tend to be idealistic and altruistic. They are very nurturing, trusting, and have diplomatic intelligence.

Dr. Fisher stresses we are all a combination of these four types but that a person tends to have one of the four more dominant in his or her personality. Have you found your most dominant type, Respected Reader?

So what types marry and combine the best? Dr. Fisher studied 40,000 people and came up with that Explorers tend to be drawn to other Explorers, Builders with other Builders, and that Directors and Negotiators are drawn to each other. Each of these connected types have their merits and there challenges.

In summary, I think Dr. Fisher’s insights into brain chemistry. and consequent personality types. are valuable contribution for those who want a “love” that satisfies short and long term. In my practice doing relationship counseling I use additional constructs such as emotionally expressive or retentive, controller or pleaser, as well as other factors involved in a couple’s life style. Finding the right person to “fall in love” with and maintain a loving relationship over time is complex. Unfortunately most people take shallow, immediately gratifying, PEA chemically based attraction to quickly rush into a committed relationship – which, unfortunately become de-committed in time for such reasons.

Hope you found some or all of this brainy love relationship stuff interesting and, perhaps, pragmatic for your life or someone you care for who may benefit from this information. Thanks for staying through with this!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates


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