"Your Brain on Love" by Stan Tatkin

Review by Borodutch

The main idea here is that our brains are physically wired for war rather than for love. Technically, natural selection killed off all the individuals with genes that made them more loving than warring. It makes sense because to survive in the hostile environment of forgone ages, one must be paranoid and always ready to fight. However, nowadays, we are met with another set of troubles: even with the closest people, we act defensively and sometimes aggressively. Stan argues that it isn't our fault but a simple fact of neurobiology. Then, the author suggests strategies to cope with it and lays out the main unintuitive relationship facts.

  1. Nothing is more complex than another person's brain — there are no "simple" people due to how chaotic the world is.
  2. All people are annoying because our brains are different, and different brains annoy us naturally.
  3. There are no low-maintenance people; everyone is high-maintenance when you spend enough time with them.
  4. Romantic relationships are and will always be a burden; no serious relationship is "easy-going," and we must take care of our partners — as they must care for us.
  5. Nobody is "trained" to be in a relationship — you and your partner have to figure this relationship together on the fly; don't expect other people to know more than you.
  6. There are no "adults," and you and your partner must parent each other forever; no one ever becomes "grown-up" and has all the answers.
  7. In relationships, our partners are "proxies" of all the people they've been in relationships before because our past shapes us; expect this and be kind about it.
  8. Our brains are automatic and reactive, mainly negatively reactive; we must learn to catch the automatic negative responses and turn them into better behavior.
  9. When our brain doesn't know something, it makes random stuff up based on experience and convinces us that this is the whole truth; usually, it never is.
  10. Social relationships are essential for longevity, as repeatedly shown by research.

The author taught me to be more easy-going in relationships. I caught myself believing some lies about the social connections outlined above. The facts above somewhat simplified my outlook and answered some questions about the people around me. Overall, I'd say that the book improved me so make sure to pick it up, it is worth it.