Lust, Romance, Attachment: the drive to love, who we choose and the future of relationships

How are the Internet and other current cultural norms changing love and attachment?  Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher discusses her brain scanning work (using fMRI) on three brain systems that evolved for reproduction (the sex drive; romantic love; and attachment), maintaining that these brain systems evolved over 4 million years ago, and they will not alter due to Internet dating today.  But the Internet is changing how we court—via texting, emailing, sexting and more.  Using her data on 30,000 individuals, she discusses the newest trend in courtship, what she calls “slow love.”  More and more people are having “friends with benefits,” dating long term and “living together” before marrying—in order to get to know a partner very well before wedding.  Where marriage used to be the beginning of a relationship, now it is the finale.  And she is optimistic about the future.  In her study of 1100 long-term married Americans, she found that 81% would remarry their current spouse.  Then, using more of her fMRI data, she discusses the brain circuits associated with long-term partnership happiness, as well as romantic rejection, love addiction, and human adultery and divorce.  Last, she proposes that the most dramatic current social change is not the Internet, or “slow love;” but the worldwide entrance of women into the paid labor force--and our human return to patterns of romance and attachment that evolved millions of years ago.