The most important knowledge is self-knowledge.
Yet, for something so critical to our well-being, there isn’t a subject on it in school. Left to our own devices, we fall prey to those who take advantage of our ignorance and we fill that void with all the wrong things.
The company we keep becomes our school and, as we learn about the world around us, the very concept of who we are becomes more muddled—we become less self-aware and unable to articulate our own agency.
We are constantly reminded of the ancient Greek maxim, “know thyself” in every way it could possibly be appropriated. More than anything, self-knowledge guides or misguides our decision-making, depending on how much of it we have.
While personality tests are plenty and available, the finality of their results produces little consequence on our love life because they are isolated, whereas love is very much a connected and fluid thing.
We don’t often think of love as scientific because we’ve been led to believe that love makes us blind and crazy.
But there actually is a science to it all.
The leading expert on the biology of love and attraction, Dr. Helen Fisher, breaks down the biology and chemistry of love in the most insightful ways.
If you are unfamiliar with her name, perhaps you have heard of Match.com, the online dating pioneer that stood the test of time, currently with a membership base of over seven million who are looking and interested.
But where are they looking? Because ordering love is so much more complicated than ordering car service or food delivery.
So, the matchmakers looked to Dr. Fisher as their consultant and built Chemistry.com from her research, which runs on hormone and personality-based matching systems.
The brilliance of her work isn’t just that it helps us understand who we are—it goes further to help us understand and predict how we react to others—the chemical reaction of love.
Her work answers to the “what,” but more importantly, her work answers to the “why” and the “how.”
In an age when our devices are smarter than us, isn’t it time that we ran a few diagnostics on our own operating system?
1. Dr. Helen Fisher’s Personality Quiz 4: Typologies of Love
We are what we think. This is perhaps the most insightful test I’ve come across that shows us how and why we act the way we do. By examining our brain systems: dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen—we learn the roles we assume when it comes to our romantic life, of which there are four dominant types:
>> Explorer: those who primarily express the traits linked with the dopamine system.
>> Builder: those who primarily express the traits linked with the serotonin system.
>> Director: those who primarily express the traits linked with the testosterone system.
>> Negotiator: those who primarily express the traits linked with the estrogen system.
We are each of the above to different degrees—a cocktail that forms our unique “personality signature.”
This signature will predict who we are naturally attracted to and the joys (and problems) that may occur when we connect with someone with a different “personality signature.”
At 17, I was overflowing with nurturing behavior that brought me a lot of disappointments in the relationship I was overcommitting myself to. The best counsel I received at the time was: “if you’re the girlfriend, then don’t be the mother to your man.”
I always remembered that because the roles we play—the roles we cast upon ourselves—determine the type of love story we ultimately end up having.
The famed love language profiles teach us that, while each of us expresses, feels, understands, and interprets love in our own unique ways, there are five universal experiences—love languages—that are: Gift Giving, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service (Devotion), and Words of Affirmation.
Our love language profile explains how we primarily communicate and experience love—what it means to us, what we need, and how we can use these insights to better and deepen our connections with our partners.
Personally, this has been the most shocking revelation I’ve had in all my years wondering about romance. Being on the “extremely high” end of the empath spectrum, I am finally starting to understand why the contours of my love life are shaped the way they are—it explained the highs, the lows, and made sense of the moments I derailed.
An empathic connection is not a love connection. Though it looks very much alike on the outside, it’s made up of completely different things on the inside.
While both are rooted in emotions and energies, and both can fuel as well as deplete, only love is transforming.
I’ve always had a problem breaking up with a partner, for fear of hurting the other person, and so my longer relationships have often been extended due to guilt—I want to be needed more than I meet my own needs.
In our current empathy-deficient world, we all crave connection. Yet, a deep connection doesn’t necessarily mean a love connection.
Without recognizing why we feel what we feel, it becomes difficult to tell the kind and degree of involvement we have with another person.
The human race has put itself through nonstop accounts of trial and error, with the common goal of living better and smarter.
Loving smarter is living better—and there is no reason why we can’t give it a try.
Our test results will change, as we all inevitably change and grow with time, but particularly because love is an alchemical, transforming power.
With profound insights into who we are, and the recognition of what we most care for, we just might discover a more direct path to where we want to be—or at the very least, limit unnecessary time wasted and hearts broken.
If you’re not happy where you are, it’s time for a love-revolution.