Helen Fisher, PhD


Have you ever wondered what people actually mean when they say “we’ve got chemistry.”  As I have said in previous blogs, there are many things that draw you to one person rather than another.  Timing is important.  If you’re not ready, you won’t notice a perfect partner, even if he or she is sitting on your lap.  We tend to fall for someone of our same socio-economic background, with the same level of intelligence and good looks, and the same religious and social values.  But does basic body chemistry also play a role?  This is what I set out to investigate at Chemistry.com.  And with time I stumbled on some natural patterns of attraction. 

If, for example, you are highly expressive of the dopamine system in the brain, what I call an Explorer, you tend to be risk taking and novelty seeking, as well as spontaneous, energetic, curious and creative.  And after studying the dating choices of 28,000 members of Chemistry.com (anonymously, of course; I only look at numbers, never people), I found that Explorers gravitate to other Explorers.  Be they the type that backpacks around the world or spends their Saturday evenings at the symphony or avidy reading poetry, Explorers are drawn to individuals who will join them in their physical or intellectual adventures.   Builders, those highly expressive of the serotonin system instead, also seek a partner like themselves.  These men and women are traditional.  They are also cautious (but not scared) and social. They respect authority, follow the rules, and tend to be orderly, conscientious and loyal to their values.  And they want a partner equally eager to build family home and community.  But the last two biological types, the Director and Negotiator, seek their opposite: one another.  Directors, expressive of testosterone, tend to be analytical, direct, decisive, tough minded and good at things like math, engineering, mechanics or computers.  And they are particularly attracted to the high estrogen type, Negotiators, those who see the big picture, and are imaginative, intuitive, verbally skilled, compassionate and warm with people.   Bill Clinton is probably a high estrogen type (he cried at Chelsea’s wedding) who married a high testosterone type, Hillary.   Angelina Joli and Brad Pitt are probably both Explorers.  And most likely Collin Powell and his wife are both Builders.

We all express all of these chemical systems, of course–along with the constellation of traits associated with each. But we do have personalities, based in part on this brain chemistry.  And this biology guides us as we make our way through the sea of mating opportunities.   So if you are looking for a cosmic connection to another, let nature help. Get to know more about yourself at Chemistry.com or from my book, WHY HIM? WHY HER?   Then try a few dates with people who naturally fit your type.   There will always be magic to love.   But chemistry can help.