The Four Love Types, According to Helen Fisher

Why do you fall in love with one type of person and not another? According to Helen Fisher, our love type defines our patterns of attraction. Discover which one is yours!
The Four Love Types, According to Helen Fisher
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Explorers, negotiators, builders, and directors. According to Helen Fisher, these are the four love types. They’re profiles that could give us an answer to the classic question of why we fall in love with some people and not with others. These psychological constructs are orchestrated by interesting neurochemical processes, which makes her theory even more special.

No doubt you’ve already heard of Dr. Helen Fisher. She’s an expert in the mysterious workings of love. In fact, in addition to being a renowned anthropologist, she stands as one of the most important popularizers of our time. Her books like Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love and The First Sex are examples of this.

If there’s one outstanding element of her work, it’s allowing us to understand relationships, attraction, affection, and even gender issues from a biochemical point of view. Perhaps it was for this reason that, in 2009, she decided she wanted to find out why we might feel attracted to one type of man or woman and not another? In fact, she gave us the answer in her book, Why Him? Why Her?

The brain systems that Dr. Helen Fisher defined for her personality test are the mechanisms orchestrated by dopamine, serotonin, estrogen, and testosterone.

Illuminated heart to represent the 4 personality types, according to Helen Fisher
Our personality is related to a specific brain chemistry that guides us to tune in to one type of person and not others.

The four love types

Why are there personalities that fascinate us? What makes us feel attracted to certain people even knowing that, perhaps, they don’t suit us or won’t make us happy ? This is an eternal dilemma, but also one of the most fascinating enigmas. For instance, we know that the physical factor has great power, as well as certain evolutionary, genetic and even experiential variables.

However, Helen Fisher goes further and points out that the mechanism of attraction is orchestrated by our brain chemistry. As she explained in her interesting book, Why Him? Why Her? there are four personality constellations. Each one is dominated to a greater degree by one type of neurotransmitter. There are those who get carried away more by dopamine, others by testosterone, and some by oxytocin or serotonin.

This book includes a questionnaire with 56 questions at the beginning. It’s a scientifically validated instrument that allows us to understand what our predominant personality is. Because, although we all have features of the four typologies, there’s always one variable that’s more significant.

According to Fisher, only when we know what we’re like, will we understand who’d be a better fit for us.

“Research shows that couples who have a lot of similarities, including neurochemical compatibility, end up staying together.”

-Helen Fisher-

1. The explorer: the curious personality (dopamine)

Creative, energetic, impulsive, fun, daring, independent, lovers of novelty, inspiring, and enthusiastic. Among Helen Fisher’s four love types, the explorer stands out for behavior that’s always dominated by dopamine.

These people are extremely magnetic personalities. They want to transform the world and mobilize others. Indeed, they’re extremely active and inspirational. Furthermore, they seek to discover, learn, and experience pleasure.

However, they’re not easy to live with. That’s because their restless character means that not everyone can keep up with them. Indeed, they’re sensation-seeking and constantly looking for adventure. Therefore, only someone with the same personality pattern will be in tune with them.

  • What type of partner is the most suitable?

Explorers look for ‘playmates’. They want people who are just as curious, energetic, and adventurous as they are. Thus, their ideal partner is another explorer.

2. The negotiator: the imaginative and idealistic personality (estrogen)

Someone with a negotiating personality pattern is intuitive, compassionate, with good social, communication, and empathic skills. They know how to handle and connect with people really well. They care about understanding, attending, and being close to others. Their behavior is motivated by the hormone estrogen. It defines women and men alike.

These people are extremely conciliatory. Therefore, they avoid conflict and hate to argue. They tend to think a lot about things, and are extremely imaginative, creative, and idealistic. In fact, they seek to promote the well-being of their entire environment.

  • What type of partner is the most suitable?

The negotiator looks for a ‘soul mate’. Their ideal partner would fit the managerial profile.

3. The builder: family personality (serotonin)

Among the four love types, many identify with the builder. They’re loyal, strong, committed, lovers of order, and those who need to have their lives well organized. Furthermore, they’re staunch defenders of their family, friends, and the people who make up part of their social environment.

Builders are usually reserved and love to help and be useful to others.

  • What type of partner is the most suitable?

The builder looks for a lifelong friend who’ll support them on a daily basis. Their perfect match is another ‘builder’.

4. The director (testosterone)

Testosterone-dominated personalities abound in our society. The ‘director’ defines an extremely analytical, competitive type of profile, with a tendency toward emotional restraint.

They love intensely and would give everything for their loved ones, but they repress openly expressing their feelings. This makes them somewhat complicated figures at times. They’re also really persistent and are perfectionists.

  • What type of partner is the most suitable?

The director looks for the person who complements them, someone who thinks and feels like them. Thus, and according to Why Him? Why Her? the director’s ideal partner is a negotiator.

Hands of a couple holding
Our ideal partner, according to Dr. Fisher, is the one who gives us what we need.

Dr. Fisher insists that each of us harbors certain traits of these four love types. However, they stand out in some more than in others. This is what defines and explains our behavior, desires, manias, and needs.

Dr. Fisher also claims that we tend to fall in love with people who can give us what we need in exchange for giving them what they need. In this way, we tend to complement each other.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Fisher, Helen (2010) Why Him? Why Her? Holt McDougal.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.