The Key Ingredient For Romantic Connection — According To Science

Dr. Helen Fisher shares one of the best ways to inspire the natural stimulant that opens you up for romance.

Couple playing chess in a red room with big windows

Starting a relationship should be fun. 

Fun is good for the mind and body. And fun is good for love — for a legitimate scientific reason. Any kind of novel game is likely to drive up dopamine in the brain — the natural stimulant that can make you more susceptible to romance. 

So why not break the ice and test your early chemistry with some fun games?



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Games that have a bigger purpose 

Sure, games are fun. But the games we're talking about have another purpose: As you play, you can learn important things about your gaming partner — as well as express core aspects of yourself. This is important. 

At the beginning of a relationship, you know almost nothing about him or her. So you tend to overweigh the few morsels of information you receive. 

As a result, the “getting to know you process” is full of “breaking points” — moments that can take on heavy (and unrealistic) meanings and can send you flying out the door–alone.


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To know them is to beat them in bowling

Knowing that having fun can stimulate the brain in ways that open you up for romance, why not lighten up those first interactions with some icebreakers and a gaming spirit? 

Psychologists report that the more you interact with someone, the more you tend to regard this individual as interesting, smart, good looking and similar to yourself. The better you like them, too.    

Moreover, if you can play well together now, you might still play well together 20 years from now–and lead a happier, healthier, longer life. So we have decided to help you pole vault those early “breaking points.” 


Playing games — like bowling or darts or trivia — you will pick up some interesting facts, ideas and points of view — as well as meet new people in a new way. More important, if you hit it off, maybe you'll find “the one.” 

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How to turn a friendly game into a chance to bond (& learn more about them)

Here are a few tips to help you navigate an early relationship and find out if there's chemistry using games:

  • Be playful: People are enchanted by those who are sportive. 
  • Be funny whenever possible: This will lift your spirits and those of your gaming partner.  
  • Be educated: Excite your partner’s mind.  
  • Be considerate: Soothe their heart.   
  • Brag a little: Let them get to know some of your best qualities.  
  • Do unexpected things: Because novelty can trigger romance.  
  • Be true to yourself: Because your gaming partner wants to know who you really are.   

And remember that words are tiny bombs that detonate in the brain to make deep impressions, so choose your words smartly. 


Most important: make it a dialogue. Respond within 24 hours if possible, because courtship runs on messages. These signals must be sent and returned — promptly. 

So, in the gaming spirit, I’d like to share my newest motto with you: “We’re here; we’re alive; let’s play.”

RELATED: 100 Great Questions And Things To Talk About On A First Date


Helen Fisher Ph.D., is a biological anthropologist and Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute and Chief Scientific Advisor to the dating site Match. She is the author of the book The Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray, among other titles.