Reading Into It: Why Him? Why Her?

by Rachel on June 15, 2010

If you, like me, are a simple girl determined to find her half-orange, then I have to recommend one of my favorite books: Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love By Understanding Your Personality Type by Helen Fisher.

I discovered this book a couple years ago when it came out and we published an interview with the author in ELLE. I decided I wanted to read the book and — OMG! It was a billion little “getting it” moments.

The premise of the book is that there are four distinct personality types that are governed by different chemical systems in the brain. Explorers are ruled by dopamine, Builders by serotonin, Negotiators by estrogen, and Directors by testosterone. Each of us is one type, plus a secondary type to a lesser degree, and these types have a big effect on our personalities…and how we fall in love and want to be loved.

There’s a quiz at the beginning of the book so you can figure out which type you are, but honestly, I felt like I knew what I was pretty quickly after reading the descriptions of each one and I could peg most of my friends as well.

  • Explorers are curious, creative, and impulsive; they like being in unpredictable situations.
  • Builders are calm, persistent, loyal, traditional; they like having a big social circle and are community-oriented.
  • Directors are analytical, decisive, competitive, and strategic; they can come across as argumentative and confrontational.
  • Negotiators are imaginative, verbal, idealistic, agreeable, and introspective; they tend to overuse the word “passion.”

Now, some people believe “like attracts like,” while other people think “opposites attract.” According to this book, both cases are true. Explorers and Builders are “like attracts like” types; Explorers want other people who are adventurous and free, while Builders want someone more settled like they are. Directors and Explorers are “opposites attract” types; both like way the other brings out the qualities they lack. (For example, Negotiators are laid-back to the point of being indecisive so they like that Directors will take control.)

Each of the types is ruled by the hormones, and she goes into more detail on that in the book — the blood-brain barrier, nerve synapses, and all that science shizz. (If you’re a Director, you probably are more into that.)

In the book, Fisher goes type by type, into deep detail on each one. Then she talks about what their relationships are like with all the different types. What I love is that no type seems “bad” — she really, truly seems to love each type. She does talk about the negative aspects of each type, though…which is good! It helps you see things in yourself…and helps you understand other people. Suddenly it’s like, “No wonder that didn’t work out. He was an Explorer.” Or, “I guess I better approach a Builder in this way because that’s more his style…”

While this book was really helpful to me in dating situations, it also just really helped me understand myself and my relationships with all people, not just guys. I’m a Negotiator/Builder. I’m actually such a Negotiator, it’s sort of a joke. Negotiators are super passionate, trusting, loyal, emotional, social, and talkative. So, so, so talkative. It may seem like my secondary type would be Explorer but it’s so not; “spontaneous” is just…not a word in my vocabulary. Builders love their rules and routine and that’s definitely m! I realized a lot of my friends are either Negotiator/Builders — because then we can talk for hours — or they are Director/Builders — because then they will remind me to STFU and make a decision when I need to.

What I loved is that the book laid out a lot of qualities I knew I had but hadn’t really thought about before. I hadn’t considered that maybe some of my relationship problems came from traits I hadn’t really considered before. One of the negative aspects of negotiators? They avoid confrontation like the plague. I never thought of myself as someone who avoids confrontation…but when I read this, I realized I totally do. Actually, reading this book and realizing that really helped me reach my “no secret crushes — knowing is better than not knowing” moment.

I passed the book on to a ton of my friends because I just found it so fascinating. And now I just look at relationships differently. She never says that a Builder and an Explorer won’t work, but she does cover the challenges you might face when you aren’t with your “match.” For me, it helped make sense of a lot of past relationships I couldn’t seem to figure out.

The thing is, in Meeting Your Half-Orange, Amy says you have to really visualize what you’re looking for in your guy. And this book helped me figure it out. The more you know about who you are and how you love and want to be loved, the easier it is to know who is right (and who is seriously wrong). Whether or not it’s the chemicals in my brain that make me this way and make me love certain types of guys, I’m not really sure. But this book is definitely a good guide book on the half-orange mission!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kaleigh June 15, 2010 at 9:20 am

This really interesting! My boyfriend is hands down a builder. “calm, persistent, loyal, traditional” are basically him in a nutshell and he comes from a HUGE family and always loves having a big group of friends to do things with. Obviously, he’s a builder to the T. I don’t really know what mine would be though… Ican see myself fitting into any of the other 3 categories. Now I’m dying to take the quiz so I can figure it out…

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2 Rachel June 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

Get it from the library and take the quiz!!! It’s sooo interesting!

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3 Kendra June 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I’m so getting this book. I love this sort of stuff although I don’t think I’m much of a director.

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