Sunday, January 2, 2011

Why Did I Pick You?

One book I especially enjoyed reading this past year is Helen Fisher,Ph.D.'s called "Why Him? Why Her?". Fisher is a research professor of Anthropology ar Rutgers University. She is well-known for her writing on brain differences and gender, and the nature of romantic love and attachment. She is also the scientific advisor to In this work, Fisher studies why we fall in love with one person, and not another.She reports on her study of 40,000 men and women, and examines their personality type and what draws people to their partner.

Fisher asserts that love is not blind. In fact, if we know as much as possible about our personality style and attachment,it helps to expain why we make the choices we make in relationships.Some temperament types match up beautifully, while others can be problematic.With her anthroplogy and biology background, Fisher looks at the biological and brain differences which contribute to personality style differences.

Fisher draws a design of four primary personality types:

EXPLORERS-they are curious,creative,adventurous,sexual, impulsive and self-reliant.They are naturally attracted to other Explorers.

BUILDERS- are calm, persistent, loyal,traditional,cooperative,social and managerial. Builders are drawn to other Builders.

DIRECTORS-are analytical,decisive,focused,inventive,competitive,independent and strategic in orientation.Directors are attracted to Negotiators.

NEGOTIATORS-are imaginative,verbal,intuitive,idealistic,agreeable and introspective.Negotiators often feel srongly drawn to Directors.

The theory is that each individual has a primary, or dominant style, as natural as being right-handed or left-handed. In addition, each of us also has a secondary style.Each personality style is prone to certain natural strengths and weaknesses.

Builders approach problems in a step-wise approach, like traditions and rules, and prefer plans and schedules. Fisher discusses her findings that the builder style brain has more seratonin activity, and this,in turn,impacts the behavior of Builders.The increased seratonin levels in Builders can supress testosterone levels and increase oxytocin levels, making this style calm and confident,but not aggressive.Builders are highly social, and like to belong.

Directors are a different tribe. They create systems, which is a trait linked to certain testosterone levels. Directors admire emotional control,like to approach problems analytically, are direct and focused. They can be emotonally blind to the needs of others, so need to watch this aspect of relationships. Directors aim high and take charge in most situations. They are natural leaders.They are competitive and autonomous.Directors can be very altruistic.

Fisher calls Negotiators the Philosopher King. They are web-thinking, collecting bits of information and finding patterns which illustrate larger concepts. Estrogen is a primary influence in the Negotiator brain, assisting web-thinking with ease of bi-lateral brain thinking, with good connections between distant areas in the brain developed in utero.Negotiators are abstract thinkers, imaginative,intuitive,mentally flexible,people-oriented and able to connect easily on a deeply personal level. They are empathetic,like to please others,and consider the needs of others. The estrogen and oxytocin levels in Negotiator brains help them have finely tuned social skills, and be emationally expressive and aware. Negotiators can be vulnerable to depression. They are wise, peaceful, and authentic.

Explorers are highly creative and intensely curious.Dopamine dominance in the brains of Explorers makes them predisposed to seek sensation. They get bored easily.They are energetic, impulsive and motivated.Highly autonomous, Explorers can be optimistic and generous.Their sense of curiosity can override responsibility. They are the original out-of-the-box thinkers.

Fishers' book,"why Him? Why Her?" gives us another interesting tool through which we can understand our own personality style, our partners' and the goodness of fit between us. Accepting our nature and our partners' can make a substantial difference in finding and keeping loving relationships. How key it is to not try to remake the partner we were attracted to into our own type. Understanding personality style differences in couples makes it possible to be closer and more connected, as well as being your best self.

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