Technology Hasn’t Changed Love. Here’s Why.

Helen’s 2016 TED Talk

In our tech-driven, interconnected world, we’ve developed new ways and rules to court each other, but the fundamental principles of love have stayed the same, says anthropologist Helen Fisher. Our faster connections, she suggests, are actually leading to slower, more intimate relationships. At 12:20, couples therapist and relationship expert Esther Perel steps in to make an important point — that while love itself stays the same, technology has affected the way we form and end relationships.

Why We Love, Why We Cheat

Helen’s 2006 TED Talk

Anthropologist Helen Fisher takes on a tricky topic – love – and explains its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its social importance. She closes with a warning about the potential disaster inherent in antidepressant abuse.

The Brain In Love

Helen’s TED talk on what happens when we fall in love.

Why do we crave love so much, even to the point that we would die for it? To learn more about our very real, very physical need for romantic love, Helen Fisher and her research team took MRIs of people in love — and people who had just been dumped.

How The Pandemic Has Positively Affected Dating (

Originally posted at by Amber Brooks

The Scoop: Dating has changed significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Many singles now get to know potential partners by spending more time connecting through video chats and over the phone. Anthropologist and Advisor Helen Fisher said she thinks these changes will be permanent — and beneficial to future daters. Couples who get to know each other better early on, and singles who figure out what they don’t want, can create stable, more committed partnerships.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantines have changed modern dating. Gone are casual first dates at coffee shops, and no longer do many singles lock eyes with a potential partner across a crowded bar.

Helen Fisher, an Anthropologist and Chief Scientific Advisor for, has collected results for her annual survey Singles in America for the last 10 years. The study used a national representative sample of 5,000 single Americans, based on the US census.

The results of the survey this year revealed some new trends, including that 58% of dating app users said they were more intentional in dating online. Meanwhile, 63% said they spent more time getting to know potential partners using the internet and their mobile devices.

Another surprising change is that singles are de-emphasizing looks, with 53% of respondents noting that they had changed what they wanted in a partner. Interestingly, there was also an increase in the willingness to date someone of a different ethnicity, as 24% of respondents said they were now more open to finding a partner of another race.

Survey results showed that, as they moved away from focusing on external characteristics, singles started to prioritize meaningful conversations and stability.

“We’re seeing people be more honest, and self-disclosure leads to intimacy. There is less emphasis on your looks and their looks, and more focus on someone who has a full-time job and is financially stable,” Helen told us.

It is clear, said Helen, that despite restrictions, lockdowns, and the COVID-19 pandemic, singles are still looking for love. Helen said she isn’t surprised by that reality.

“Cupid has beat quarantine. Love is a basic brain system, like the fear or anger system. It will never disappear,” she said with a laugh.

COVID-19 Has Changed Romance — For the Better

The COVID-19 pandemic has had many adverse effects. However, Helen suggests that dating and relationship-building have flourished.

One reason singles have bonded more effectively is because they’re getting to know each other before having sex. And they can connect more completely without meeting face-to-face through the rise of video dating.

Technology offers singles new ways to assess their compatibility. For instance, if two people don’t have shared values, they’re likely not to see each other again after their first meeting.

Helen notes that video chatting serves the same assessment function as a first date. She reported that 50% of singles in the survey who used video dating during the pandemic said they had fallen in love, and 56% said they had felt a romantic connection.

They’re using it as a vetting process to decide if they want to meet up in person. We will see more meaningful first dates because singles will already know they want to be there. When you’ve spoken to someone for months via video chatting, you probably know whether you’d like to kiss them too,” she told us.

Another benefit of video chatting is that sex is off the table. Singles don’t have to negotiate sex, or even physical touch at all, meaning that they can determine whether they click in other ways.

Further, financial concerns are not as important in video chatting. Couples don’t have to decide if they want to meet up in a coffee shop or a fine restaurant — and the social implications of those meet-up spots aren’t relevant, either.

“The bad boy and the bad girl are out. Serious conversations and meaningful conversations are in,” Helen told us.

Predicting and Explaining Trends

Recently, she revised her 1994 book “Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray”. The book explores conventions of marriage in 80 societies worldwide, along with explanations about adultery, the brain circuitry of romantic love, and attachment and the future of the family.

That research led her to conclude that two-income partnerships are not only ancient but highly beneficial to marriages.

“For millions of years, women commuted to work to gather their fruits and vegetables,” Helen said. “And regularly came home with 50% or more of the evening meal. Women were regarded as economically, socially and sexually equal to men.”

But when the agricultural revolution emerged some 10,000 years ago, women could no longer wander off the farm to do their gathering, while men’s roles became more and more important as farmers. And with this, a whole new set of beliefs arose, including virginity at marriage, a woman’s place is in the home, the man is head of the household, and till death us do part.

“Today,” as Helen said, “all these agrarian credos are disappearing before our eyes. In fact, we are returning to life as it was in our hunting/gathering past — with the rise of women in the work force and the double-income family. That has to be good for partnerships.”

Helen also wrote a book called “Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love By Understanding Your Personality Type”. The book shows that humanity has evolved four basic styles of thinking and behaving associated with four specific brain systems and that we are naturally drawn to some people rather than others.

If an individual is drawn to a personality type that clashes with theirs, that may explain why they struggle to make relationships last.

Helen is currently working on a companion to this 2009 book.

“My new book explains why you’re drawn to this kind of person in love and in business and how you can reach them naturally, using brain science. I no longer believe in the golden rule; I believe in the platinum rule: do unto others as they would have done to themselves. Understand who they are biologically (as well as culturally), and then you can reach them at their core,” she told us.

Helen Fisher: Meeting a Partner Online Can Improve a Couple’s Future

Some may suggest that meeting a partner online isn’t as good as meeting them in person. However, Helen said that this misconception has been disproven time and again. Meeting a partner online may lead to longer-lasting, happier marriages.

After reading a study out of the University of Chicago that covered online dating benefits, Helen pondered why that would be.

“As it turns out, people who meet online are more likely to be fully employed, more likely to have higher education, and more likely to be seeking a commitment. Online dating is likely to lead to more stable partnerships,” she told us.

That emotional, intellectual connection has been highlighted during the pandemic as couples have to wait longer to meet face to face. The new way of meeting and deciding to marry contributes to a phenomenon Helen calls “slow love.”

“Slow love is about people being careful about who they commit to. Millennials are spending a great deal of time building a stable career and figuring out who they really want before they tie the knot,” Helen told us.

Couples are marrying later these days than in the past. From the 1950s through the 1970s, women often married at around age 20 and men at around age 23, on average. Now, women marry at age 28 while men marry at 30, on average.

“The later you marry, the more likely you are to create a stable, happy long-term relationship. This slow love, a long period of courtship, will contribute to more stable partnerships,” Helen said.

This pandemic has slowed down courtship even more. These new dating habits, including the rise of video chatting, are likely to last after the pandemic subsides because, during a video chat, sex and money are off the table, and singles can vet potential partners before they spend their valuable time and money on a first date.

As Fisher says, “We’ll be seeing more meaningful first dates and singles will be kissing fewer frogs.”

Originally posted at by Amber Brooks

Science Writers in New York – SWINY

Helen Fisher, PhD, biological anthropologist and senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, discusses how to date during a quarantine, the advantages and disadvantages of “virtual dating,” and more with SWINY co-chair David Levine.

What’s Going on In Your Brain When You Get Dumped, According to a Scientist

amanda mcarthur

may 22, 2020

Few things feel worse than getting dumped.

Whether it’s out of the blue or it’s been a long time coming, the end of a relationship can be a painful thing—particularly when you didn’t have any say in its conclusion. But why exactly is that pain so severe, and why can it linger for so long? We were curious, so we asked Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and expert on all things that happen in the brain when you’re in love.

Related: What Happens When We Try to Tango

Sweety High: What parts of the brain are most active after someone’s been dumped?

Helen Fisher: My colleagues and I put 15 people who had just been dumped into a brain scanner, and many brain regions are active when you’ve just been dumped or broken-up with.

We found activity in brain regions related to intense romantic love, as well as regions related to deep attachment. Just because somebody dumped you doesn’t mean you’ve fallen out of love with them. You’ve remained in love with them for at least a while and you’re very attached to them. We also found activity in three brain regions related to craving and addiction, including a brain factory associated with both substance addictions and behavioral addictions, like gambling.

Last but not least, we found brain activity in a brain region linked with physical pain—not just the trauma that goes along with physical pain, but the pain itself. It’s the same brain region becomes active when you have a really bad toothache.

Oddly enough, we also see activity in a brain region linked with figuring out your gains and your losses. When somebody has dumped you, you might say, “Well I really liked his mother. Will she still talk to me? We went out with those friends. Are they still my friends? Who gets the dog? What have I gained? I’ve gained my freedom. I’ve no longer with a man who was cheating on me. I can get on with my life.” You lie in bed trying to figure out what you’ve gained, and what you’ve lost.

SH: With those brain regions active, what feelings or actions might manifest?

HF: There are three basic phases of being dumped. The first is shock, followed by protest and resignation. You can hardly believe it, and then you begin to fight it. Women will try to bargain and win their guy back, and try to compromise and talk it out. Both sexes will try to make you jealous by showing up with somebody else or confront the abandoning partner as well as any new person that partner is with. Then after a while, they give up. They can fall into lethargy, and a sense of hopelessness and despair. It can overtake you. And then, after a while, you begin to recover. You slowly return to normal and then you start to look for love again.

SH: What steps can we then take to heal after being dumped? 

HF: I often wonder why evolution made it so hard to get out of these ways of thinking. The one thing we’ve been able to prove is that time heals. Among our 15 people dumped, we compared those who were farther away from the experience. The longer it’s been since you’ve been dumped, the less activity we saw in the brain regions linked to attachment. You slowly begin to feel less attached and less in love with this person. Still, it certainly helps if you treat it as an addiction and you don’t meet up with them, don’t text them, don’t save their letters. It really speeds up that process.