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To Fall in Love With Anyone Ask These 36 Questions, by Mandy Len Catron, NYTimes

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Wait, so do you know what Arthur Aron's 36 questions are?

36 questions to love Arthur Aron meme Imgur

36 questions to love Arthur Aron meme Imgur

36 questions to love Arthur Aron meme Imgur

36 questions to love Arthur Aron meme Imgur

Imgur comments:

question number 6 made me laugh out loud!

This one?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

yes.  that one.  without question, i would want the body of a 30-year-old forever!  i understand minds deteriorate, but if that happens, would i care?  ;)

but what 90-year-old wouldn't want the body of a 30-year-old?  boom, baby!  old, wise, healthy hotties lining the beaches of florida... sounds like heaven!!

Ha! I think you're right that if your mind goes you don't care and you're happy anyway, but if you have full mind and your body goes you are fully aware and therefore more miserable.

Still, it would be nice to be sharp enough in old age to be able to read, think, give feedback, etc.

The set of questions really does escalate.

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

8. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

9. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

10. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

11. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?


25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling ... “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ... “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

i like the sharing stuff and introspection and mixing up the usual conversation, but it seems a bit manipulative when you are supposed to make statements about the other person, particularly what you have in common or what you like about them.  like speed dating.

To be fair to them, it was a scientific experiment.

But you're right that just rifling through these questions is a poor substitute for slowly getting to know someone.

yes.  i also see that she even addressed my comment later: talking about how this study assumes love is an action—a choice to be interested in this other person—and that it is indeed a scientific experiment of whether or not this interest can be manipulated.

a sciency look at love...

kind of takes the "falling in love" right out the equation!

how many introspective answers do you have handy anyways? 

not enough to make this conversation fun and easy!

If falling in love was a science would that make it less special?

um... yes.

I dont want realism I want magic yes magic meme Tumblr Imgur

three quotes come to the notion of love, human specialness, and realism/magic

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke   

"...where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise." - Thomas Gray,

“You are not special. You're not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We're all part of the same compost heap. We're all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”  -Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Jared a Fight Club quote in a thread about love! You floor me!!

Emily as Jared points out, it all depends on how you define magic.

Penn and Teller regularly show how magic is performed. Does that make it less magical?

One more quote, on love. 

"“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” -Kurt Vonnegut

that vonnegut one is great, jared.

penn and teller are great and everything they do is magic, even the explaining of it!

i see your point, but love is not a trick or a science or an advanced technology; love is a force.  and it is so big and so special and so universal that i don't even really believe it can be cut up and examined.  it simply is.  and whether or not a series of questions brings two people closer is beside the point.  that is not falling in love, that is getting to know one another.  the love happens on its own.

Getting to know each other is on the road to love.

true datt!

...or is love on the road to getting to know each other?

ooh... both!  love is all around us!  we ARE love, man!

So is love an action or a reaction?

neither, in my opinion.

but maybe falling in love is both an action and a reaction.

Then it defies the laws of physics! You win!

hahaha!!  love definitely defies the laws of physics.

and, in love, everyone wins.  :)

There are no losers in love? Hmmm, some of pop music has it wrong then...

operative word being "in"

Ah, once they're out, they lose. Still, better to have loved and lost, right?

sounds like this notion of love is faith based

yeah, for many, love is just oxytocin and serotonin stew.

but i still want magic.

hahaha! I kid you not, the percentages that site uses was randomly on my whiteboard before class this morning. 

  • 55% is through body language

  • 38% is the tone and speed of their voice

  • Only 7% is through what they say

Wait, so if we're on the Internet with no body language, tone, or voice speed...

Then we're only communicating at 7%?!

And Emily why didn't you mention Vasopressin?

that would be a compelling reason why youtube Vlog's are so popular. 

true on the vlog point.  also why emails are so easily misunderstood.

wait, jared, were those percentages in your class discussing the same thing we are?

adam, the link was just an afterthought... i actually didn't know about vasopressin!

and it is hard to believe we are only communicating at 7% here.  i mean, i'm pretty sure i could marry geege and live happily ever after.  ;)

yes, it was. 

Emily, this description of Vasopressin comes from your link.

Vasopressin is another important hormone in the long-term commitment stage and is released after sex. Vasopressin (also called anti-diuretic hormone) works with your kidneys to control thirst. Its potential role in long-term relationships was discovered when scientists looked at the prairie vole. Prairie voles indulge in far more sex than is strictly necessary for the purposes of reproduction. They also – like humans - form fairly stable pair-bonds. When male prairie voles were given a drug that suppresses the effect of vasopressin, the bond with their partner deteriorated immediately as they lost their devotion and failed to protect their partner from new suitors.

Seems like we should be giving some people vasopressin injections.

if it works on sexy voles, it's bound to work on broken marriages!  ;)

jared, sounds like you are teaching fun stuff!  how cool.

Absence of vasopressin leads to loss of devotion but it's unclear adding vasopressin helps.

oh, shucks!  :(

i'm glad to learn that voles are sexy though!

Yeah I'm not sure why the researchers used voles and I wish they would study vasopressin more. 

they used voles because they are monogamous sex-fiends!

and hopefully they are studying vasopressin as we type...

I had no idea about voles!

As for vasopressin research, check this out:

Is there a way to love smarter?

“Actually, psychologists have tried making people fall in love,” I said, remembering Dr. Aron’s study. “It’s fascinating. I’ve always wanted to try it.”

I first read about the study when I was in the midst of a breakup. Each time I thought of leaving, my heart overruled my brain. I felt stuck. So, like a good academic, I turned to science, hoping there was a way to love smarter.

I explained the study to my university acquaintance. A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.

“Let’s try it,” he said.

Let me acknowledge the ways our experiment already fails to line up with the study. First, we were in a bar, not a lab. Second, we weren’t strangers. Not only that, but I see now that one neither suggests nor agrees to try an experiment designed to create romantic love if one isn’t open to this happening.

I Googled Dr. Aron’s questions; there are 36. We spent the next two hours passing my iPhone across the table, alternately posing each question.

They began innocuously: “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” And “When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?”

But they quickly became probing.

In response to the prompt, “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common,” he looked at me and said, “I think we’re both interested in each other.”

I grinned and gulped my beer as he listed two more commonalities I then promptly forgot. We exchanged stories about the last time we each cried, and confessed the one thing we’d like to ask a fortuneteller. We explained our relationships with our mothers.

The questions reminded me of the infamous boiling frog experiment in which the frog doesn’t feel the water getting hotter until it’s too late. With us, because the level of vulnerability increased gradually, I didn’t notice we had entered intimate territory until we were already there, a process that can typically take weeks or months.

I liked learning about myself through my answers, but I liked learning things about him even more. The bar, which was empty when we arrived, had filled up by the time we paused for a bathroom break.

The key is cutting through the narrative we tell others:

We all have a narrative of ourselves that we offer up to strangers and acquaintances, but Dr. Aron’s questions make it impossible to rely on that narrative. Ours was the kind of accelerated intimacy I remembered from summer camp, staying up all night with a new friend, exchanging the details of our short lives. At 13, away from home for the first time, it felt natural to get to know someone quickly. But rarely does adult life present us with such circumstances.

The moments I found most uncomfortable were not when I had to make confessions about myself, but had to venture opinions about my partner. For example: “Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner, a total of five items” (Question 22), and “Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things you might not say to someone you’ve just met” (Question 28).

Much of Dr. Aron’s research focuses on creating interpersonal closeness. In particular, several studies investigate the ways we incorporate others into our sense of self. It’s easy to see how the questions encourage what they call “self-expansion.” Saying things like, “I like your voice, your taste in beer, the way all your friends seem to admire you,” makes certain positive qualities belonging to one person explicitly valuable to the other.

It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.

We finished at midnight, taking far longer than the 90 minutes for the original study. Looking around the bar, I felt as if I had just woken up. “That wasn’t so bad,” I said. “Definitely less uncomfortable than the staring into each other’s eyes part would be.”

i love the idea that our regular narrative gets thrown off and with these questions we have to present ourselves in a new, more vulnerable way.  we do indeed rely on our best stories, usually.

Yes. We become the stories we tell, which is a shield over our true selves. 

The eyes have it:

I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life. I spent the first couple of minutes just trying to breathe properly. There was a lot of nervous smiling until, eventually, we settled in.

I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected.

I felt brave, and in a state of wonder. Part of that wonder was at my own vulnerability and part was the weird kind of wonder you get from saying a word over and over until it loses its meaning and becomes what it actually is: an assemblage of sounds.

So it was with the eye, which is not a window to anything but a rather clump of very useful cells. The sentiment associated with the eye fell away and I was struck by its astounding biological reality: the spherical nature of the eyeball, the visible musculature of the iris and the smooth wet glass of the cornea. It was strange and exquisite.

When the timer buzzed, I was surprised — and a little relieved. But I also felt a sense of loss. Already I was beginning to see our evening through the surreal and unreliable lens of retrospect.

that really is a nicely written section.

looking in an infant's eyes is like this, too... but without the nervous smiling.

I wonder when the infant looks back what s/he sees. 

Love is a choice.

Most of us think about love as something that happens to us. We fall. We get crushed.

But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him.

I wondered what would come of our interaction. If nothing else, I thought it would make a good story. But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.

It’s true you can’t choose who loves you, although I’ve spent years hoping otherwise, and you can’t create romantic feelings based on convenience alone. Science tells us biology matters; our pheromones and hormones do a lot of work behind the scenes.

But despite all this, I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible — simple, even — to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.

You’re probably wondering if he and I fell in love. Well, we did. Although it’s hard to credit the study entirely (it may have happened anyway), the study did give us a way into a relationship that feels deliberate. We spent weeks in the intimate space we created that night, waiting to see what it could become.

Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned or a hopeless romantic.  The whole premise of this is that by following a process (this process) you can fall in love.  I see where it can work and maybe even last.  At the end of the day healthy lasting relationships rely on deeper connections - body, mind, and spirit.  

Still, to me, there's nothing like the thunderbolt, that first attraction and desire to want to know the person (I don't mean lust or "know" in the biblical sense but rather an all consuming attraction).  This "wow" attraction should come first in my view.  If the feeling is real then the 36 questions are an excellent set of thoughts for exploring and validating the relationship (if it even gets off the ground).

With both attraction and compatibility the relationship has a shot at long term success, I think.

Ah so the 36 questions don't make someone love, but if someone is already on the path the questions can accelerate the process?

The 36 questions are perhaps a tool for exploring a deeper relationship on one hand or for walking away at the other extreme - and everything between.

If nothing else, you won't run out of things to talk about for a while.

I have fallen the hardest for men I didn't even find that interesting at first.  Months/years later I became aware of their fine qualities.  Sometimes they have knocked on my door - one, two, three times - but until I was ready to see it, I was blind.  

I have had wine.

Ahhh - wine!  I've commented from that place before! :o)

The "thunderbolt" is one way and the slowly discovered "more than friends" or acquaintances is certainly another.  Not to overly generalize (but I will) - it is said that men tend to be more visual in nature whereas women more auditory.  Certainly there is a continuum here we all fall on somewhere.  Maybe this factor influences how we "notice" another.  Thoughts?  

Lessons are repeated until they are learned.

Lessons are learned when the student is ready.

Chuck, once a man starts saying the right things, I don't care if he rasps, giggles, is a "high-talker" (Seinfeld) or continually clears his throat - as did the love of my life.  I imagine once a man is struck by the thunderbolt he doesn't mind so much that his beloved chews her nails and <insert what mildly bugs you here>.

one of my greatest love connections was with a spaniard who couldn't speak a word of english...

i'm fluent in spanish, but still, i don't communicate the same way as in my native language.  i've often wondered if the lack of words was what made it so easy.

Emily what a fascinating thought that sometimes words get in the way.

Geege, Imgur has discovered the 36 questions and of course their comments are Imgurian.

Imgur comments:

what traits are displayed in an Imgurian thing?

"step 1: talk to a human being"

Emily, good answer to Jared's question. 

Jared, the joking and the snarking.

Sample comment:

tl dr George Clooney gif imgur

Staring into someone's eyes for 10 minutes can change your consciousness:

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