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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brief Summary and Review
*A full summary of this book is available here: An Executive Summary of Larry Young and Brian Alexander's 'The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction'

The main argument: Love and sex play a central role in the human drama. But when we talk about the emotions and decisions that we make in connection with them, we tend to remain strictly...
Published on September 22, 2012 by A. D. Thibeault

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too boring for me
If you are very academic you would probably enjoy reading this book. I was bored with it. I need something less didactic.
Published 18 months ago by JP


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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brief Summary and Review, September 22, 2012
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This review is from: The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction (Hardcover)
*A full summary of this book is available here: An Executive Summary of Larry Young and Brian Alexander's 'The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction'

The main argument: Love and sex play a central role in the human drama. But when we talk about the emotions and decisions that we make in connection with them, we tend to remain strictly at the macro level, referring to people, and relationships, and our freely made choices. However, in their new book The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction social neuroscientist Larry Young and journalist Brian Alexander contend that our biology and chemistry play a much bigger role in love and sex than most of us ever acknowledge (since Larry Young is the scientist behind the book [and responsible for the ideas therein], I will refer to him as the main author throughout). Young explores everything from gender identity (and sexual orientation), to romantic relationships (and parenting), to monogamy (and adultery), taking us inside our bodies to investigate the genes and hormones that influence our approach to love, sex and relationships. While the focus here is on us humans, the evidence comes not only from our own species but from a host of other animals that exhibit similar biology and behavior.

Young begins by way of smashing the notions that gender identity is constructed by culture, and that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. The foundations of these phenomena, the author argues, are laid down in utero by the specific hormones that wash over the fetus as it develops. Interestingly, we learn that the genes and hormones that are responsible for genital development are active at a different time than those that are responsible for gender-specific behavior, thus explaining how the two can become separated from each other.

While the foundations of gender and sexual orientation may be laid down in utero, it is also the case that they are capable of being influenced to a degree by learning and culture, thus explaining cross-cultural differences in the manifestation of gender, as well as such phenomenon as fetishes.

When it comes to a woman's gender identity, Young explores the hormones that explain maternal behavior, and why women differ in regard to just how maternal they are-as well as what effect this has on their children. Interestingly, we also learn that a woman's love for a man appears to have been built on the same brain mechanisms responsible for her maternal behavior. This fact helps explain a number of baffling phenomena (including, incredibly, the size of women's breasts, and men's penises!).

While men are capable of experiencing romantic love just as strongly as women (if not more so), we learn that a man's love is built on an entirely different biological mechanism. Specifically, a man's love is built on the ancient mechanism responsible for territoriality. This helps explain such phenomenon as male possessiveness and jealousy; but it also helps explain why men are more paternal than the males of most other species.

While love may have a different biological basis in men and women, it takes on a strikingly similar form in both. In short, it is an addiction-not at all unlike a drug addiction. Indeed, like a drug addiction, a romantic relationship starts out as a high, then morphs into an experience whereby the lover cannot stand to be away from their love, and experiences deep stress when this occurs. Even the brain chemistry of using drugs, and the way the brain changes as a drug user becomes addicted, is the same as occurs in the progression of a romantic relationship.

While men and women in love may be addicted to one another, this does not mean they are incapable of cheating on one another. And, indeed, the prevalence of adultery in all times and places (despite the near ubiquity of social mores opposed to the practice) indicate that it is a deep part of our biology. Young explores this biology, and also why some people are more disposed to the practice than others.

As we might well expect from a book co-written by a scientist and a journalist, the work delves deep into the technicalities of the science that is discussed, while at the same time mixing in a large measure of anecdotes and humor. The result is a book that is scientifically sound, while at the same time being highly readable and entertaining. On the negative side, while the authors do touch on the evolutionary reasons behind the phenomenon and biological mechanisms that are discussed, a more thorough exploration of this would have added greatly to our understanding of the subject matter. A full summary of the book is be available here: An Executive Summary of Larry Young and Brian Alexander's 'The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction'
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Read!, November 17, 2012
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This review is from: The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction (Hardcover)
Dr. Young's narrative voice is humorous and engaging, his language makes the science very user-friendly, and the book as a whole is very thought-provoking. I love sharing the knowledge I learn from his book with friends who share similar interests. Many fascinating stories that set up the neurochemistry or extrapolate on the science. A must-read!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introspective Book, January 6, 2013
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David G (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction (Hardcover)
Before reading this, I read Ogi Ogas' A Billion Wicked Thoughts and loved it. Both books are on similar themes, and ABWT is very much like a textbook so it's sometimes difficult to get through all the statistics and studies. Chemistry Between Us has much of the same information but it's written in a very colloquial style. I have recommended both of these books to my friends because they explain almost everything you need to know about romantic relationships. The problem is that most people are not introspective enough to apply the information to their own lives. I have only read perhaps one or two "self-help" books on romance, but in my opinion this is the only book that anyone needs. It does get off to a bit of a slow start, but hang in there because at about 1/4 or 1/3 of the way into the book it really takes off an becomes pretty riveting.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She blinded me with science, February 27, 2013
This review is from: The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction (Hardcover)
Why is it that we are drawn to some people and pushed away from others. What exactly is love? A force that make individuals change their lives completely, sacrifice to bear children, and be loyal to one soul?
In the book The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction by Larry Young, PhD, and Brian Alexander you take a scientific approach to these natural connectors. This story is very fascinating how hormones and chemicals within us impact our actions on the outside.
A bit scientific in certain parts, you get the nuts and bolts and research on the dynamics between the sexes. How often the way we act are more a force of biological forces than simply random acts.
The book delves into the science of how depending on the hormones that we are exposed to within the womb can determine our sexual orientation and sexual prowess. For men being faithful can be a challenge when we are constantly on the hunt for the rewards of sex.
If you want to delve into a deeper understanding of connecting with another person, this book is a good foundation to understand why when you are in love or are attracted, you get that "magical feeling". As cited, "Men are still led by instinct before they are regulated by knowledge", Theodore Dreiser.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting and well written book, in an easy and understandable language., March 19, 2013
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This review is from: The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction (Hardcover)
Its perfect if you are broken hearted and need to rationalize your feelings. And also if you are a science geek (like me) and want to know what happens. Just dont give it to your girlfriend for valentines day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Science referenced in this book is impressive, April 14, 2014
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Some of the writing in, "The Chemistry Between Us" takes a couple of detours into the gutter at times, and this is something I could live without. Nevertheless, the science that Larry Young does actually describe, really does make sense. I'd recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic glimpse into the genetics and chemistry of human sexuality, October 29, 2014
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The Chemistry Between Us is a fascinating look at the genetics, brain chemistry and hormones that, for better or worse, exert a strong influence on our deepest relationships. The book surveys experiments done on slugs, voles, humans, and other animals in order to get a glimpse at the workings of the brain, while being careful not to over-state the conclusions. It deals with a wide range of topics from epigenetic (environmental, non-DNA) factors in gender identity to jealously and mate-guarding, to monogamy and infidelity, and mother-child bonding with many stops in between.

For the most part, this was all riveting stuff. If you've read more than a few biology books, some sections will seem a little repetitive - you can start predicting what the human experiments will be like (and their results) while you're still reading about slugs or voles, but I think the approach was necessary to show to what extent the animal experiments map over to human experience, with our rather more complex brains.

For me, the biggest irony of the book was in the last chapter, where the authors claim that science can't answer the 'big questions' - that those are better left to religion and philosophy. It's ironic because the book just finished giving a better answer to one of the biggest questions of all - 'what is love?' - than any religion or philosophy I've encountered. It seemed like a bone thrown to a largely religious audience in an attempt to make their findings more palatable. Why do I think the authors were insincere here? It might have to do with their flippant analogy of the child who endlessly asks 'why?' and the speed at which the parent collapses into an answer like 'Because that's God's plan' or 'Let's go watch Sponge Bob!'.

Despite these minor quibbles, I found the book delightful and informative and recommend it to anyone getting started in a scientific study of human sexuality. (Also good, with surprisingly little overlap in the studies covered: Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation.)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a chemistry!, December 14, 2012
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I have heard when chemists say 'the chemistry just doesn't work' sometime they just have no explanation or couldn't figure it out why. But this book was amazing at telling you why something/someone did or did not work. There was some heavy stuff to process, but overall it explain everything related to human behaviour...what make us act the way we are....what make us become us...etc. This is a book that worth reading. I just couldn't put it down once I get past chapter one.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We all need a little chemistry between us, October 7, 2012
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This review is from: The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction (Hardcover)
In my previous office job life, the first thing I did on Monday mornings was go to msnbc.com and read Brian Alexander's 'Sexploration" column. He answered bizarre health/sex questions from the masses and wrote articles about topics that actually needed to be addressed. Plus he was funny. As a non-scientific layperson,I found this book to be so interesting and entertaining, especially the sections about why men and women gravitate towards certain other romantic partners and what things trigger different feelings in the brain, etc. I'd like to conclude that it's clearly not my fault that I've dated jerks (thank you Larry and Brian for that)but the book is a lot more than that. It covers everything from fidelity to sexual identity and the biology behind men and women's different emotional reactions to the same incidents. I think everyone, man or woman should read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this book as a source of research based information, September 11, 2014
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The book covers topics from homosexuality, transverse individuals to love, attraction, falling out of it and infidelity from the point of view of brain response to the development environment or to contacts between man a women. Interesting read, educational. Helps dispel uneducated myths and political dogmas. Very useful book. Recommended for all who thinks seriously about sexes/genders, love, attraction, falling out of love.
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The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction
The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction by Brian Alexander (Hardcover - September 13, 2012)
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