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Helen Fisher on the brain in love

If you’ve ever wondered what is the secret to making love last, you’re not alone.

Now, more than ever, relationships crumble at the drop of a hat and people are not taking them as seriously as they once did.

How can we continue to develop and maintain loving relationships when it seems like the world is going to hell in a handbasket?

People cheat, lie, and lose interest.

In this TED Talk, anthropologist Helen Fisher gives us some clues as she talks about what happens to the brain in love.

Helen Fisher’s findings suggest that romantic love gives off the same dopamine hits as other things in life that cause us to feel euphoric, excited, and giddy.

As someone becomes more attached to a person, those dopamine hits become stronger and can call up feelings over time to maintain the bond between the two people.

Her research saw couples participating in brain scans and found that thoughts of their partners elicited strong brain activity that suggested they did not just “love” their partner, but they were “in love” with their partner.

Staying in love is the hard part for people. As people change with age, it can be difficult to stay in a relationship with someone who is completely different than the person you married.

But when your brain recalls the person and dopamine is sent out into the body, the memories you have might be enough to keep you invested.

From reading Fisher’s research, there are significant factors in making love last (as well as many others, but for now, we’ll just focus on these two). They are:

1) The couple’s ability to feel empathy for one another.

According to Fisher, this is one of the nine psycho-physiological traits that are commonly associated with romantic love:

“They feel a powerful sense of empathy toward the beloved, including a feeling of responsibility for the, loved one and a willingness to sacrifice for him or her.”

2) And the introduction of positive illusions.

Positive illusions, according to Fisher, means you have the simple ability to overlook what you don’t like about someone to see the good in them. Focus on what you do like instead.

According to Fisher in Oprah Magazine:

“Men and women who continue to maintain that their partner is attractive, funny, kind, and ideal for them in just about every way remain content with each other.”

What’s important about Fisher’s research is that it keeps the responsibility of the relationship on both partners.

Whether you think your partner has wronged you or not depends on how you will handle yourself during the situation too.

So if you find you are always fighting about the dishes, dog, children, car, work, money, why not try to reframe those things in your life to more positive illusions such as: you are blessed to have a home to wash dishes in, you are lucky to have a car to get to your job so you can make money, and so on.

Relationships are a lot of work, and without the efforts of both partners, they will fall apart quickly.


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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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