The 36 questions that will make you fall in love.
It started way back in 1997. Before Twitter, Facebook, Reality TV, the Internet and gluten.
You know, the good ol' days.
Anyway, a journalist in New York recently wrote about 'em, and they're all the rage again. She was on a first date, the guy whipped them out and six months later they were married. Happily.
They're based on the theory that love can be cultivated with anyone instead of waiting around for it to strike us down through a mix of chance, fate and alcohol.
Back in 1997, State University of New York psychologist Arthur Aron separated two groups of people, then paired them up within their groups and had them chat with one another for 45 minutes.
The first group spent the 45 minutes engaging in small-talk, the second group got a list of questions that gradually grew more intimate.
Not surprisingly, the pairs who asked the gradually more probing questions felt closer and more connected after the 45 minutes were up. One of those pairs ended up married six months later, hence the rumour that these questions can lead to love.
It's common-sense. Instead of small-talk, ask a bunch of probing and deep questions, and of course you're going to feel closer to someone, making these questions, if nothing else, excellent date-night fodder.
There is only sketchy anecdotal evidence of them leading to love with any sort of regularity, which basically means no evidence at all
To fall for someone you need to be attracted to them in some way beforehand. For example, if you don't like olives, no matter how good and deep the chat is, there's no way you'd ever want to screw one.
So does it really work? Could it possibly?
Well what better way to find out than to try it for yourself.
So I asked my girlfriend the 36 questions.
The overemphasis on death didn't do me any favours. The questions did, however, allow my partner and I to share some extraordinarily intimate information. Nothing we hadn't told each other before, but we'd never said it all together like that, and I realised afterwards that they're all things worth repeating far more often.
Oh, and we did the four-minute eye staring thing at the end, too. That's a big part of the original 36 question test – it must finish with a staring competition.
During this gazing ceremony, I discovered three things:
1) Staring into someone's eyes for an extended period is actually quite tricky. Like you can't stare into both eyes at once. You have to choose one, then swap to the other. It's a bit awkward.
2) At times, I could see my reflection in her eyes. Which was the last thing I wanted to see, especially at this particular moment.
3) As much as you might think you know someone, as you stare into their eyes with what you hope is loving concentration, but secretly fear is anguished constipation, you are reminded that you can never really know what someone else is thinking. We are all forever mysteries to each other.
So just like the original research suggested, these questions are great for building intimacy. As to the claims that they'll make you fall in love…sometimes we're so desperate as a society for something to be true that we ignore the fact that it just isn't, disregard the need for proper research and keep repeating it anyway.
On a side note, I've got some exercise equipment, detox diets and astrology charts for sale. Barely used, and barely useful.
If love is your thing, I've also got candles and tarot cards and herbs that, if mixed together correctly, are extremely effective. All for sale as well, for only like $200. Or whatever you've got handy.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian
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