A few weeks ago the New York Times released an article titled, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This”. If you’re anything like me, you saw this title and immediately wanted to click to read more, and for good reason. This article’s reach was so wide that not only did I see it all over social media sites, but friends and family reached out to me to let me know this may be something that would interest me and relate to the matchmaking industry. It says something that this article reached me, a twenty something who’s fairly Internet obsessed, and my mother, a fifty something who gets most of her news stories from papers, magazines, and television news. The popularity and far reach of the article stems from opposing the ideal that love just happens; never are we taught that love can be forced or created in a laboratory. This article examines findings of psychologist Arthur Aron, which explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a series of 36 personal questions. Crazy enough, six months after the study, the strangers were married.
So are we making love more complicated than it actually is? Is it as simple as 36 personal but probing questions? The author of the New York Times article, Mandy Len Catron, tried this experiment out in a less pristine context, with someone who was not a stranger and in a bar rather than a laboratory. Again, it worked; her and her partner fell in love. So what are the magical 36 love inducing questions? They begin simply with “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” then gradually delve into questions such as “Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.” and “How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?”.
Are we not asking the right questions on dates? Are we sticking to the easy questions too often? It may not be practical to stick to this type of format when on a first date and getting to know someone but we may be able to learn something from this. Maybe it’s time to ask some of the hard questions on first dates instead of the generic small talk that is often resorted to. While questions like number 30, “When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?” is not appropriate for a first date, and will unfailingly bring down the mood, but try asking about their most embarrassing moment or what they value most in a friendship. Sometimes all you need is one interesting topic of conversation to set the tone of your date, and create a fun experience that can lead into a second date or even a relationship.
What do you think about Aron's study? Is love as easy as asking the right questions? Comment below!
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