LifestyleRelationship

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. 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, it can be quite a challenge. When two explorers come together, 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, fact-oriented thinkers, and stick to tradition. They also 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. This 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, builders can be set in their rules, schedules, and traditions. As a result, two builders may bicker over what they perceive as the “right way” of doing things. It’s important for builders to keep an open mind and learn the value of flexibility to help improve and evolve themselves and their relationships.

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, daring, and highly ambitious. They 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. This helps 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. They may neglect to spend quality time with negotiators and their family. In order for directors to have fulfilling relationships, they need to learn what it means to use their hearts instead of their heads.

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 groups 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, 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, his eloquence, and his skill with handling people.

These love types are more likely to be attracted to certain types of lovers over others. But 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. Although directors and negotiators are supposedly the ideal match, Dr. Helen Fisher actually interviewed multiple couples who were builders and negotiators. These two are not usually naturally drawn to one another. However, they ended up falling in love with each other. This could be 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 needs more scientific research and explanation. Because after all, people often end up falling in love with those whom they least expect. 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.

Did you take the test? What love type did you get? Leave a comment below!

 

References:

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

Fisher, H. (2017). The Anatomy of Love. Retrieved June 15, 2017.

 

 

Edited by Viveca Shearin

Catherine Huang
Catherine Huang graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BA in English. She has a penchant for storytelling, ramen, and psychology. Catherine is a writer for Psych2Go and looks forward to reaching out to its growing community, hoping to encourage others to tap into self-examination and confront life's challenges head on with the most difficult questions.

7 Comments

  1. I took the test, and I got the primary love type of Negotiator with a secondary love type of Builder. What was interesting was when I went to the article about meshed love types, I didn’t see a Negotiator/Builder combo on there. I saw Builder/Negotiator though, but I’m assuming that means the Builder is the primary love type. So I’m just a bit confused as to why there seemed to be a bit of picking and choosing about which love type combos were talked about.

    1. Hi Katrina, thank you so much for reading! My primary love type is also Negotiator. =) It is interesting, isn’t it? I also noticed Negotiator/Builder wasn’t mentioned on the test results’ website and only Builder/Negotiator, but because one is just dominant over the other, I recommend reading that section, and just switching the two around in your head for rationality purposes. Because your love type is predominantly Negotiator, though, I think that part is more vital anyway in terms of understanding how you love. When I took the test, I’m a Negotiator/Explorer, but I would say that even though Explorer is supposedly my secondary love type, I never quite identified strongly with it as much as I do with Negotiator. I think the secondary love type only becomes valid if you score rather highly on more than one type —or rather —if the results are almost tied, but I definitely have a very strong leaning towards Negotiator. I hope this helps and clarifies! =) It’s similar to being on the spectrum of introversion and extroversion. We’re all on there, but we’re not fixed to necessarily one spot, because humans are a lot more fluid than that. =)

    1. Hi Estefania, the link to the test is hyperlinked in the second paragraph in the very last sentence. I hope that helps! Let me know what your results are when you take it and if you agree with them! =)

  2. I’m sorry, I simply can’t believe any of this. Neither estrogen nor testosterone are neurotransmitters. Estrogen’s effects on the brain are through neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. None of these chemicals have a simple effect you can put into a box; we all have all of them. Imbalances in them can lead to disfunction.

    What does is mean for one to be “dominant” in a hormone or neurotransmitter? People with too much dopamine in certain brain circuits are not explorers, but instead show symptoms of schizophrenia.

    I find Fisher’s findings fishy. I think we all want to see things we can’t and might not ever clearly understand (like love) explained to us clearly and placed neatly into boxes and categories that anyone can understand.

    The truth is, it’s really a whole bunch of gray.

    1. Hi ZA, thanks so much for reading. I agree with you when you state that you can’t ever box up what love is. Nor should it ever be boxed up, because it simply just is. I don’t think that was Dr. Helen Fisher’s intentions to begin with, but rather her theory acts as a map that can help us understand our own inclinations as human lovers. Surely we cannot deny our own tendencies or predispositions, which she traced from studying the biological makeup of the multiple couples she’s interviewed. She states that any paring or combination can work as long as two people are committed to working it out together, but she states that there’s inclinations people have on what attracts them, more or less. Personally for me, ever since I looked into her theory, I began to notice patterns in the people’s relationships around me as well as what I myself lean towards romantically. What we see is always going to be a subjective matter. Nothing is clear cut, especially with something as enigmatic as love. If we had all the answers in regards to love, there wouldn’t be such high divorce rates or so much heartbreak we face.

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