Tag Archives: Helen Fisher

Love as Attachment

Part 4 of 5 How to Win At Love – in Five Easy Stages

STAGE  #4 ATTACHMENT ~ work, house, debt, kids, pets, oh – and love…

By now in Stage 4 , in Dr. Helen Fisher’s  terms, you’ve formed an attachment. A stage of calm, companionable love, the sort we see all around us with  birds and  bees well, – mammals actually – and it looks like you’d imagine:

  • Building your nest together
  • Defending your nest together
  • Sharing parental chores
  • Sharing home-making chores
  • Bringing home the bacon
  • Missing one another when you are apart
  • Finding security in one another’s love
  • Feeling calm and comforted in the knowledge of your partnership
  • Feeling a sense of belonging.

All these rewarding behaviours are promoted in your brain by the release of two hormones in particular – oxytocin (yup, the same hormone that floods new Mums also promotes trust and satisfying sex) and vasopressin (increasingly associated with positive social behaviour, sexual motivation and coping with parenting stress). These evolutionary aides exist to help people stay together long enough to effectively birth, raise and educate their utterly helpless human young.

While each stage has its challenges, this one’s tough. Most divorces occur here with an up-tick at 3 years (when couples have that first baby), at seven years (kids and boredom) and again at 12 or 13 years (more kids, more boredom?). It is terrifically hard to prioritize your relationship when all about you are impending domestic, physical or financial emergencies.

What to do?

Savour the moments you can!

Whether or not you have kids and pets, you are right slap dash in the middle of life and busy days speed by all the faster.  Try these ~

TIP 1 ~ Do one thing each day for you.  Self-care in all things is not only a sensible way to go into your hectic, giving, caring, other-centered days, but it is actually a very thoughtful gesture. No one wants to live with a depleted martyr. Whatever replenishes your spirit each day – commit to it. A run; yoga; a hot bath and candles; a gym workout; writing for 30 minutes; 10 minutes of meditation. Try it!

TIP 2 ~ Do one thing a day for your partner. Remember who you are doing all this nesting and attachment loving with? A warm “Welcome Home” hug; a text or two at work; picking up his/her library book or dry cleaning; choosing his/her favourite wine or beer for dinner; a neck rub over the evening news; a five minute snuggle after the alarm goes off at 6:00am.

TIP 3 ~ Do one thing a week for your relationship. Ask yourselves “What can WE do together for US?” As a couple, what brings you closer? Can you plan an adventure? Invite friends over? Start a book or movie club? Take up Tango? Commit to boot camp as a team? Set compellingly exciting financial goals? Sponsor a worthy cause together?

Love as Romance

Part 2 of 5 How to Win At Love – in Five Easy Stages

STAGE  #2 ROMANTIC LOVE ~ you’ve found “The Perfect One”

Lust (Stage 1 – see yesterday’s post) has its place to get you up and out of your comfy zone and into the daunting domain of dating, but it can take you only so far – right?  A few too many maddening mismatches, beastly blind dates and embarrassing evenings and you’ll either give up dating for a while to lick your wounds, or you’ll fall madly for The One.

Finally you’ll meet someone who is utterly unlike all the others. Everything about this person is perfect. Her smile, his eyes; her moves, his laugh; her wit, his jokes. You’ve found your soul mate; the one whose existence makes the sun brighter and the moon more mysterious. Think Romeo to your Juliet (or visa versa).

As much as this feeling of love brings out your most noble self, it too is simply a function of our evolutionary journey, according to Dr. Helen Fisher.  While lust and attraction get you looking for sex with anyone remotely appropriate, fueled by androgens and estrogens, this second stage of Romantic Attraction washes you in a different chemical bath. Now you become drunk on a heady mix of dopamine, testosterone, norepinephrine  and endorphins. You become obsessed by an intense craving for your beloved and typically enjoy more energy, an upbeat mood, and a sense that you and your beloved can take on the world together.

What to do?

Enjoy it!

This phase only lasts from 2 to 24 months and is the shortest (and most intense) of the five stages of love. The goal of this stage of your love relationship is to build the fire so bright and so hot that it’s warmth will see you through the rougher stages to come.

How to win at ROMANTIC LOVE?

TIP 1 ~ Be romantic. Recognize this stage for what it is and give yourselves fully over to it. Take those adventures overseas together. Be a little bit wild and crazy. Open up to new ways of appreciating being alive. Read aloud, dance, play, skip, swim naked, cook together, visit the zoo, take risks. Listen – you are children in the garden of delight so please – go for it!

TIP 2 ~ Avoid responsibilities. In an ideal world, don’t take on a family or mortgage too soon – they can kill romantic love so fast. Sure, second marriages sort of “come with” the family and mortgage stage, so work hard to carve out some play time for yourselves before signing your beloved onto your mortgage papers or having your sweetie discipline your kids.

TIP 3 ~ Dream a little. Plant some seeds for the future. Set goals, create Bucket Lists. Discuss what excites you about tomorrow. When the chemicals wear off, you’ll be glad of some solid ground upon which to stand, together.

Love as Lust

Part 1 of 5 How to Win At Love – in Five Easy Stages

STAGE  #1 LUST ~ You’re on the hunt

What is it that gets a perfectly happy guy who is otherwise content to swill some beers over sport talk with his mates, to eschew the bar, clean up and hang out with a woman while she asks ~

  • his opinion on her girl-friend’s boy-friend’s jerk behaviour (TIP: agree he’s a looser)
  • whether or not she should pierce her navel (TIP: tell her she’d look great either way)
  • whether these shorts make her look fat (TIP: nothing makes her look fat – how could it?)
  • for a movie date with The Notebook (TIP: let her cry on your shoulder and offer her some clean tissues you’ve packed along just in case)

What is it that gets a perfectly happy gal who is otherwise content to snuggle the cat in sweatpants whilst simultaneously “chatting” to her mother, and at least 3 other girl friends, to climb back into her heels, pop on the eyelashes, shimmy into the hip huggers and head on over to ~

  • watch the game with his mates (TIP: be enthusiastic when his team does well)
  • grab a bite to eat (TIP: be flexible on the first date – it won’t always be Take-Away)
  • go fishing on the weekend (TIP: take Dramamine, avoid makeup)
  • play competitive mini-golf (TIP: you could decline…..)

Evolution – that’s what!

According to Dr. Helen Fisher we humans have evolved three core brain systems to successfully mate and reproduce our species. This first one, of lust and attraction,  is the drive we all need to leave our comfort zones and head out and mate. If you really stop and consider how very different men and woman can be, it makes sense that our ancestors with the strongest desire to get out there and have sex are the ones whose genes have been most successfully replicated.

So –whether you want to simply indulge your sexual appetite, or you are hunting for a long term companion until  death do you part, if you’re single and don’t want to be, you’ll need to mingle.

How to win the LUST Stage?

TIP 1  ~ Be clear about what you want. Just sex?  Be alert & safe, but you don’t have to be too fussy. If it’s sex and a possible relationship, then be safe but try and meet someone who shares some interests – see below.

TIP 2 ~ If you’re kinda-sorta interested in meeting the right person get out there and do stuff you enjoy; or try speed dating; participate in singles networks and watch how successful “attractors” go about it.

TIP 3 ~ If you are super-serious about meeting someone for the long haul, go to Chemistry.com,  take their free personality test and discover the sort of person you are statistically most likely to be attracted to, and then get back out there!

(Let me know if you find a good catch this way.)