Almost 20 years ago, Helen Fisher helped revolutionize dating. She has no regrets.
By Kaitlin Tiffany
The Atlantic, December 11, 2022
The anthropologist and famed love expert Helen Fisher seemed ready to dash into oncoming traffic. We were on a sidewalk in Manhattan, opposite the American Museum of Natural History, and nowhere near a safe place to cross the street. She wanted me to stare down the yellow cabs and charge off the curb, though she knew I wouldn’t do it: I’d recently taken the personality questionnaire she wrote 17 years ago for a dating website, which produced the insight that I am a cautious, conventional rule follower. She, however, is an “explorer”—she has visited 111 countries, including North Korea—but also, being high in estrogen, a “negotiator” who will use the crosswalk for my benefit.
“I am horribly empathetic,” she told me. “I cry at parades. I look into baby carriages and worry about their future with love.” (Really high in estrogen.) This is how Fisher, the 77-year-old chief scientific adviser for Match.com and one of the best-known, most-often-quoted experts on romance and “mate choice,” understands life: Personality is a cocktail of hormones; love comes from the buzz of mixing them just right. The human sex drive hasn’t changed for millions of years, she argues, nor has the human capacity for long-term attachment. If, as a cautious, conventional technology journalist, I’m preoccupied with the question of how we live now, Fisher has spent her career exploring the story of how we’ve lived (and loved) always.