Helen Fisher, PhD
Chemistry is more than just a metaphor for romantic compatibility. Brain chemicals really do play a role in determining to whom we are attracted and the strengths and tensions in our relationships.
My research has identified four main “love types” — Explorer, Builder, Director and Negotiator — based on whether the chemical dopamine, serotonin, testosterone or estrogen is dominant in a person’s brain. A little over a year ago, I reported in Bottom Line/Personal on some of my research. Here, more on how to make your relationships stronger by knowing your love type…
WHICH TYPE ARE YOU?
Each of us is a combination of all four types and may express any of the four styles depending on the situation. However, we tend to act according to one type most often. For clues to your love type, answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions…
1. I do things spur of the moment.
2. I have a wide range of interests.
3. I am more creative than most.
4. My friends and family would say that I have traditional values.
5. I think consistent routines keep life orderly and relaxing.
6. People should behave according to standards of proper conduct.
7. I am able to solve problems without letting emotion get in the way.
8. Debating is a good way to match my wits with others.
9. I am more analytical and logical than most people.
10. I like to get to know my friends’ deepest needs and feelings.
11. After an emotional film, I often still feel moved by it hours later.
12. When I wake from a vivid dream, I need a few seconds to return to reality.
If you answered “yes” to questions 1, 2 and 3, you probably are an Explorer. (Dopamine is dominant.)
Explorers love novelty, spontaneity, freedom and risk. They are curious, creative, offbeat, magnetic, flexible, optimistic and full of energy.
If you answered “yes” to questions 4, 5 and 6, you probably are a Builder. (Serotonin is dominant.)
Builders are guardians of tradition and respecters of authority. Cautious but not fearful, they prefer rules and routines and are comfortable with statistics and concrete details. They are calm, orderly, persistent, patient and frugal. Builders also are highly social — community-oriented, cooperative and loyal.
If you answered “yes” to questions 7, 8 and 9, you probably are a Director. (Testosterone is dominant.) Although testosterone is popularly thought of as a male hormone, Directors can be male or female.
Directors are decisive, exacting, competitive, ambitious and self-contained. They say what they mean. Logical and analytical, they excel in technical fields, such as engineering, computer sciences and mechanical repairs. Their focus tends to be narrow, but they go deeply into areas that interest them.
If you answered “yes” to questions 10, 11 and 12, you probably are a Negotiator. (Estrogen is dominant, but Negotiators can be female or male.)
Negotiators are big-picture thinkers — imaginative, open to possibility and comfortable with ambiguity. They are empathetic, intuitive, emotionally expressive and sensitive to others’ needs, as well as introspective and aware of their own internal processes. Negotiators are adept with words and have good people skills — they are agreeable and read tone and gesture well.
If you answered “yes” to questions in more than one category, choose the category in which you had the most “yes” answers. If there is a tie, you exhibit traits from all those categories.