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Dr. Helen Fisher’s 4 Love Types

When I was little, I believed in the idea of soulmates. I had this belief that one day, I’d meet the one on a train or an elevator or at some party I’d get dragged to go to. Because, for the most part, that’s what’s often depicted in our culture, our books, and films. To this very day, I still do believe in soulmates, but my beliefs have switched gears quite a bit as my rose-colored lenses have been doused in colors of scientific inspection. You see, it’s mainly because of my love type that makes me seek a soulmate due to my chemical makeup. I’ll get to that shortly.

Dr. Helen Fisher, who is a research professor of anthropology, has studied human love for years. She’s made groundbreaking discoveries about who people are as lovers and the love they seek as a result. There are four love types that she discovered: the explorer, builder, director, and negotiator. Explorers are dominant in dopamine, builders are dominant in serotonin, directors are dominant in testosterone, and negotiators are dominant in estrogen. Based on our chemical makeup, it also shows in our personality characteristics, habits, and lifestyle preferences. To figure out which love type you are, take Dr. Helen Fisher’s test here.

Explorers’ vocabulary often consists of words like “adventure,” “spontaneity,” “traveling,” “new,” and “fun.” Because their chemical makeup is predominantly dopamine, these people seek a playmate in a lover. They see life as one big great adventure and want someone to join them in it. They are highly impulsive, curious, sensation seekers. High dopamine levels also influence explorer types to be motivated and goal-oriented because they are linked to enthusiasm, energy, focus, and assertiveness. Because explorer types are prone to boredom easily, they always have to be on the move. Discovering new places, cultures, and people can help quench their curiosity lust. Helen Keller was an explorer because of her passion and fight for women’s suffrage, the blind, workers’ rights, and birth control.

Explorers often tend to be attracted to other explorers. While that sounds easy enough, when two explorers come together, and sparks ignite with two bold hearts on fire, if they don’t learn what patience is down the road, it is common for two explorers to get in a head-on collision. This can result in messy breakups. So, even though things can elevate quickly for this love type, it’s the pure recklessness that can also prevent the explorer from maintaining relationships.

Builders’ vocabulary often consists of words like “family,” “honesty,” “morals,” “values,” “trust,” and “loyalty.” Because their chemical makeup is predominantly serotonin, these people seek a helpful lover. Serotonin generates caution because it suppresses dopamine levels. Therefore, builders are relaxed, social, conscientious, steady, and family and community-oriented. They are natural networkers and respect rules and authority in society. Explorers, on the other hand, are more rebellious in their nature because they enjoy the risk of breaking social norms.

Builders are natural planners and like to schedule things ahead of time. They have an eye for detail and are linear in the way they do things in a step-by-step fashion. They’re concrete and fact-oriented thinkers, stick to traditions, and make good managers and administrators because of their great problem solving skills, persistence, and reliability. George Washington was a builder because of his dutiful nature and meticulous ways that made him earnest in his efforts, keeping his word to others.

Builders are often attracted to other builders. These couples are often the high school sweethearts you hear about who are still married sixty years later down the road. While that sounds idealistic, that doesn’t mean builders don’t have their fair share of obstacles to overcome in their relationships. For instance, because builders can be set in their rules, schedules, and traditions, two builders may bicker over what they perceive as the “right way” of doing things. As a result, it is important for builders to keep an open mind and learn the value of flexibility if they want their relationships to grow and evolve.

Directors’ vocabulary often consists of words like “intelligence,” “debate,” “geek,” “nerd,” “ambition,” “challenge,” and “politics.” Because their chemical makeup is predominantly testosterone, these people seek a mind mate in their lovers. Albert Einstein was a classic director with his self-confidence and bold manners. Directors are straightforward, tough-minded, and decisive. They value logic. Therefore, when making decisions, they are not easily swayed by emotions. Directors enjoy competition and are pragmatic, focused, and daring. They are also highly ambitious and can be so independent that they can come off as lone wolves because they can tolerate extreme isolation. Directors have excellent spatial skills and musical and athletic ability, too.

Directors rarely ever go for other directors. Instead, they go for their opposite mates, which is the negotiator. This is because directors lack the verbal and people-reading skills negotiators naturally possess that help attract them to one another. Although the director and negotiator typically make a good pairing, problems can still arise. Directors, for instance, have workaholic tendencies, and may neglect to spend quality time with negotiators and their family. In order for directors to have fulfilling relationships, they need to learn to what it means to use their heart instead of their head.

Negotiators’ vocabulary often consists of words like “kindness,” “sensitivity,” “empathy,” “sweet,” “learning,” “random,” and “reader.” Because their chemical makeup is predominantly estrogen, they seek a soulmate in their lover. Negotiators are known to be the philosophers out of the love type group because their high estrogen level provides for webbed thinking. This helps them connect a vast array of ideas, concepts, and theories with one another. This helps negotiators think naturally in an abstract manner and provides them with a vivid imagination. As a result, this makes them habitual daydreamers. Negotiators are highly intuitive individuals, relying on their gut feelings often because they are natural feelers.

While directors trust logic, negotiators trust their intuition. Negotiators also tolerate ambiguity well, have strong mental flexibility, are agreeable, trusting, empathetic, and emotionally expressive. They are truly altruistic and are highly skilled in detecting subtle nuances in reading people’s faces and body language. Because of this, negotiators make natural psychologists. In addition, they are also highly introspective, making them the wise philosophers that they are.

However, negotiators can experience problems in their relationships when they dwell on casual comments and criticisms. They tend to take them personally and can cause them to hold grudges for months or even years. Negotiators are also susceptible to depression and can over-do it when they constantly feel lost. Always on the search for themselves, they can become overly self-absorbed, self-conscious, and self-critical. Gandhi was a negotiator because of his ability to think about the bigger picture, the way he spoke eloquently, and his skill with handling people.

Although these love types are more likely to be attracted to certain types of lovers over others, the truth is that any love match can work. So long as the two members are mature enough and willing to cooperate with one another and work with each other’s differences. For instance, even though directors and negotiators are supposedly the ideal match, Dr. Helen Fisher actually interviewed multiple couples who were builders and negotiators. Although these two are not usually naturally drawn to one another, many times they end up falling in love with each other because the negotiators are often attracted to the builders’ dependability and self-assurance. On the other hand, the builders appreciate the negotiators’ ability to bring fresh ideas to the partnership.

Despite the important research Dr. Helen Fisher conducted, we still know only a speck about love. It is still such an enigmatic concept that cannot be fully explained even in the utmost scientific way. Because after all, people often end up falling in love with those whom they least expect to end up with. Ultimately, in relationships, it’s about constantly choosing your partner over and over again. And kindness. Speaking as a negotiator, I cannot stress enough the importance of being kind to the person you love. If you find yourself in a disagreement with your partner, pick up the phone or drive over to their place. Swallow your pride and apologize. Ask yourself: is this really worth losing someone over? The sad reality is that things are always fleeting. But the things you do have control over —please make those moments count.

 

References:

Fisher, H. (2010). Why Him? Why Her? New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

Movie Mezzanine. (2013). Retrieved June 16, 2017, from http://moviemezzanine.com/wp-content/uploads/kiki-3-1024×549.png

Pexels. (2017). Retrieved June 16, 2017, from https://static.pexels.com/photos/7042/pexels-photo.jpeg

Techno Buffalo. (2016, February 10). Retrieved June 16, 2017, from https://www.technobuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/chess.jpg

The Anatomy of Love. (2017). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from https://theanatomyoflove.com/relationship-quizzes/helen-fishers-personality-test/

The Odyssey Online. (2016, April 26). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from http://cdn1.theodysseyonline.com/files/2016/01/30/635897222461577840-361588591_pinky-love.jpg

The Payroll Blog. (2017). Retrieved June 16, 2017, from https://www.surepayroll.com/images/default-source/default-album/does-company-loyalty-still-exist.jpg?sfvrsn=0

 

 

Edited by Viveca Sheari

5 Comments

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  1. I am always quite fascinated by personality tests, even though most of them do not have a solid scientific basis. I realized just recently though that it does not matter if the whole story is told by the test; it’s more about the bits and pieces that can be picked up from each one. They help us better relate to ourselves and others.
    I especially enjoyed reading this article as it gave detailed descriptions and provided an interesting and smooth read. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  2. Interesting! I love articles like this wherein I get to know myself even better and what kind of person I am. My result is the negotiator and the next is explorer. I couldn’t agree more to what descriptions were written.

    • Hi Liz,

      My results are the same as yours! Negotiator being my primary type and explorer being my secondary. 🙂 So glad to hear that your results matched up with the descriptions. As a negotiator, I’d say we’re the most fluid out of all love types, because we’re so adaptive overall as people persons, so sometimes it’s hard to pin down exactly what I feel I am, but Dr. Fisher was pleasantly accurate in her research that made taking her test for me a piece of cake. 🙂

  3. A very well written and interesting article. I like how it goes into depth about the four different types of love and examples are provided to each category. I would definitely like to read more into this idea, and thanks to the sources provided, I can! Thanks!

    • Thanks so much for reading! If you’re interested in delving deeper in Dr. Helen Fisher’s four love types, I highly recommend her book Why Him? Why Her? It’s packed with interesting insights she’s collected from interviewing various couples from all over! Definitely worth the read. =)

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Written by Catherine Huang

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Catherine Huang graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a B.A. in English. When she's not writing, she can be found eating ramen, star gazing, and daydreaming about getting closer to the sun and other faraway places.

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Dr. Helen Fisher’s 4 Love Types