Love is a Powerful Brain System

Love is a Powerful Brain System

“Men are so adulterous!”
“What makes you think men are more adulterous?”
“Men are definitely more adulterous.”
“Well… who do you think these men are having sex with?”

I have become a new fan of TED online, which is this amazing website that gives all of us the option to watch amazing performances and speakers for free, so that good ideas can proliferate. Helen Fisher on Romantic Love really got me thinking, both as a person, and as a writer. It’s about ten minutes. Fisher discusses what she says are the three brain systems of love:

  1. Sexual love
  2. Romantic Love
  3. Attachment

I found this video so interesting. Fisher talks about the differences between men and women in terms of how they think, gather information, and how we are moving toward a collaborative society. She talks about the recurrence of the “companion marriage,” and “romantic love,” which is a throwback to one of my favorite 19th century authors, Margaret Fuller.

She mentions how the three brain systems aren’t always connected to one another, which explains how one can feel attached, and yet not have a romantic love, for someone. Or to be sexually attracted, but not feel attached. And these feelings can change from minute to minute. She asks why it is that we fall in love with one person, rather than another.

Isn’t that the real question all romance authors are asking? I feel like that’s my question, anyway.

As a romantic author, I felt like this video really helped me first to understand, perhaps, the underpinnings of love from a biological standpoint, with an emotional filter layered on top. This, I feel, is important to understanding what, really, is important in terms of writing about love, in any of its forms. I’d love to hear what you think about this video.

Do you agree with what Fisher has to say? And how are your projects coming along?

20 Comments

  1. That’s cool! I once read a bit about how every one feels love in different ways. For example, I feel love by touch. DH feels love when someone does something for him.

    Problems arise when we express our love in the way we feel it, but not the way the other person feels it. (If that makes sense.)

    Fascinating stuff!

  2. That’s cool! I once read a bit about how every one feels love in different ways. For example, I feel love by touch. DH feels love when someone does something for him.

    Problems arise when we express our love in the way we feel it, but not the way the other person feels it. (If that makes sense.)

    Fascinating stuff!

  3. Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about! The five love languages, right? Quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and words of affirmation. This is definitely something I’ve internalized, and probably even use in my writing to make conflict, or at the very least, miscommunication, between characters.

    Personally, I’m quality time. I just need to be around the person. My ex was physical touch, and I really didn’t like that… ergo him being my ex, haha.

    I love getting into the psychology of things, and this talk was dynamic, to say the least.

  4. Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about! The five love languages, right? Quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and words of affirmation. This is definitely something I’ve internalized, and probably even use in my writing to make conflict, or at the very least, miscommunication, between characters.

    Personally, I’m quality time. I just need to be around the person. My ex was physical touch, and I really didn’t like that… ergo him being my ex, haha.

    I love getting into the psychology of things, and this talk was dynamic, to say the least.

  5. Bwahahahaha I love that about “Then who are all these men having sex with?”

    That is kind of funny. Why do men get such a bad rap as cheaters, when clearly they have to have a female to sleep with if they’re heterosexual?

  6. Bwahahahaha I love that about "Then who are all these men having sex with?"

    That is kind of funny. Why do men get such a bad rap as cheaters, when clearly they have to have a female to sleep with if they're heterosexual?

  7. This is why I can’t just have my characters “go at it” in my books. I am a firm believer that sex does not equal love or compatibility–which is the nonsense the romance genre likes to promulgate. I have a hard time reading today’s romances because the emphasis on sex and sex=love (esp great, wondrous, spectacular sex=love) has rendered the both romance and sexual tension null. Reading it distracts me from my views on sex because it’s easy to be swept away by what’s on the market and attempt to tailor one’s work to that.

    Two of the books I’m tentatively plotting deal with the same issue: two completely different people who are physically attracted to one another, but don’t get along at all or agree on even the basic things–and then they get married! Sex, Love and Marriage are three concepts I like to toy with in my romantic fiction because the “fairy tale” propaganda we’ve been fed has mitigated true understanding of what makes up the development of a romantic relationship which ends in a HEA.

  8. This sounds really interesting, Evangeline! I definitely want to read some of your stuff.

  9. *g* I’m forcing myself to not feel I’m “overambitious” or “pretentious” in order to work on them.

  10. This is why I can't just have my characters "go at it" in my books. I am a firm believer that sex does not equal love or compatibility–which is the nonsense the romance genre likes to promulgate. I have a hard time reading today's romances because the emphasis on sex and sex=love (esp great, wondrous, spectacular sex=love) has rendered the both romance and sexual tension null. Reading it distracts me from my views on sex because it's easy to be swept away by what's on the market and attempt to tailor one's work to that.

    Two of the books I'm tentatively plotting deal with the same issue: two completely different people who are physically attracted to one another, but don't get along at all or agree on even the basic things–and then they get married! Sex, Love and Marriage are three concepts I like to toy with in my romantic fiction because the "fairy tale" propaganda we've been fed has mitigated true understanding of what makes up the development of a romantic relationship which ends in a HEA.

  11. This sounds really interesting, Evangeline! I definitely want to read some of your stuff.

  12. *g* I'm forcing myself to not feel I'm "overambitious" or "pretentious" in order to work on them.

  13. Evangeline, I’m in the same boat as you. I don’t believe sex equals love, especially not without attachment and romantic love. But then, I write sweet romance… so none of my characters will have sex “on stage.”

    I can’t wait to read some of your writing! It sounds very interesting; not overambitious or pretentious at all.

  14. Evangeline, I'm in the same boat as you. I don't believe sex equals love, especially not without attachment and romantic love. But then, I write sweet romance… so none of my characters will have sex "on stage."

    I can't wait to read some of your writing! It sounds very interesting; not overambitious or pretentious at all.

  15. i saw helen fisher on various ‘sex’ shows, and was impressed by some of her thoughts

  16. i saw helen fisher on various 'sex' shows, and was impressed by some of her thoughts

  17. @laughingwolf I’d never seen her before, though the name sounded very familiar. Very cool to hear that she’s like this all the time.

  18. @laughingwolf I'd never seen her before, though the name sounded very familiar. Very cool to hear that she's like this all the time.

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