Why We Love: Five Revelatory Books on the Psychology of the Heart

Books on the Psychology of Love

Many people are trying to understand the psychology of love. People who want to understand human behavior in general are obviously going to want to parse some of the deepest and most complex of human emotions. It certainly doesn’t get much more complex than love.

Obviously, one of the complicated aspects of this whole discussion is that love itself can be difficult to define. Some people might define love differently if it is parental love, romantic love, or platonic love. Other people are going to lump all of these different categories together. From a biochemical perspective, it seems that the picture is even more complicated.

Helen Fisher’s Why We Love should at least manage to give people an introduction to the biochemical aspects of love. Obviously, given how little researchers currently know about the brain and biochemistry in general, people should take all books like this with a grain of salt. However, this is still a book that will be able to give people an idea of what to think and what to expect.

Helen Fisher is also not a neurologist. Still, people who at least want an introduction to this complex subject will be able to appreciate this book. People who want a book that is going to offer more of a hard science approach to the same questions should read A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon. Even books like these need to be taken with a grain of salt, but they can at least give people an idea of this complex subject matter.

Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose is the sort of book that might be able to shed some light on why people seem to choose partners for reasons that are difficult to understand. While this book does help people to understand why some seemingly mismatched pairings happen, the researchers do come down on the side of the idea that love is not truly blind. Attractive people and unattractive people can partner up, but they are going to partner up for other reasons that seem almost as inevitable as physical attraction.

The Psychology of Love and its update, The New Psychology of Love, can also help to explain love partly by revealing just how complicated it is. The researchers who try to argue that love is simple are going to be the ones who manage to go wrong. These books also make it clear that simple definitions of love continue to elude researchers. The research that generates more heat than light might be some of the most honest research into the psychology of love.

On Love is a book that manages to combine much of what people are going to read the rest of these books, and that might be the sort of thing that is going to appeal to the people who are trying to meld a poetic and a scientific understanding of love. Books on the psychology of love can only provide part of the picture at this point.