Monday, November 7, 2011


I recently had a radio personality ask me, “Are you interested in anything other than sex?” I laughed because the truth of the matter is that I have numerous interests but they always find their way back to intersecting with relationships and intimacy for me. It’s like the Kevin Bacon game of 6 Degrees of Separation for me…give me a topic and I will link it back to sex in 6 or less steps.
One of my hobbies is personality tests. I have been fascinated with who we are and why we are who we are since I realized (at about age 12) that the reason my father and I fought all the time was because we were actually quite similar. This concept fascinated me and began what has become a life-long study.

Most recently, I have just finished reading Helen Fisher’s book Why Him? Why Her? For those of you who are not yet familiar with Dr. Fisher, allow me to introduce you. She is one of my favourite anthropologists and sex researchers. Dr. Fisher is known for putting people who are in love into an MRI machine and then watching their brains to see which areas light up when they are given a picture of their beloved. Science and sex together. Seriously, who would not want this woman’s job??
Evidently, not everyone. In her book, Dr. Fisher describes four broad personality types – not all of whom would enjoy doing what she does. As she describes these personalities, she asserts that while everyone has a primary personality type, they also have secondary type that also influences how they think and act.
So far, her theories weren’t much different that what I have previously studied – she just gave different names to the categories. But here is the part that really caught my attention – these personality types are influenced by the predominant hormones that you have coursing through your system which, of course, are genetically inherited.
I know, I know, the nature/nurture debate is never-ending and quite frankly, I am a bit bored by it.  Scientists are finally beginning to conclude (and Dr. Fisher accedes to these findings) that it is about a 50/50 split.
But for the purpose of this article, let’s focus on the genetic part of your personality right now. Here are the four broad categories:
EXPLORERS. “Carpe Diem.” These individuals have a higher amount of dopamine in their systems. This makes them intensely curious, impulsive, energetic, enthusiastic, optimistic and creative. In her Word Type Study, Dr. Fisher found that adventure is the word most frequently identified by Explorers to describe themselves. They tend to be attracted to other Explorers, have the highest incomes, are the most sexual of all personality types but also have the highest divorce rates.
BUILDERS. “Pillars of Society.” The hormone that is most prevalent with this group of people is serotonin. They tend to be loyal, social, conscientious, dutiful, cautious, moral, respectful of authority, orderly and excellent managers. In the Word Type Study, family is the word used most frequently by Builders. Builders tend to gravitate to other Builders, are popular in their large social circles, have the lowest divorce rates of all the personalities but also have the lowest sex drives.
DIRECTORS. “Always to the Stars.” Testosterone is what influences the personalities of this group. Consequently, they are outspoken, direct, independent, competitive, pragmatic, goal-oriented and systematic. In her Word Type Study, Dr. Fisher found that intelligence is the word used most frequently by Directors. They are the most likely to get their PhD’s, can be very self-critical as they search for the highest prize (knowledge), have a healthy sexual appetite and tend to be attracted to Negotiators.
NEGOTIATORS. “Philosopher Kings.” The amount of estrogen found in this group makes them tend to be big-picture thinkers, emotionally expressive, intuitive, imaginative, tolerant of ambiguity, and empathetic. In her Word Type Study, Dr. Fisher found that passion is the word used most frequently by Negotiators. They too are drawn to Directors, are the most likely of all the groups to read books, they are highly introspective and have a rich fantasy life.
Evidently, my husband and I make a very good match. He is an EXPLORER/Director and I am an EXPLORER/Negotiator. Our primary types enable us to constantly seek out adventure together (much to the chagrin of his predominantly Builder family), and our secondary types balance each other nicely. Why is this helpful information to have? The better you know yourself, the better you know your partner, the better you will be able to navigate the bumps, twists and turns that life hands you.
So, can you see any traits that seem like you? What about your spouse? Does it shed any light on why you have succeeded in your relationship or run into problems?
Obviously, in this article I can’t cover all the ground that Dr. Fisher does in the book. So, here is the book at Amazon. I highly recommend it!

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