The simple formula for falling in love

The best way to find love may be the simplest: make the choice to do it.

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Social psychologist Arthur Aron about two decades ago demonstrated that you could lead two strangers to fall in love through a scripted interaction centered around asking each other personal questions. Writing in the New York Times this week, Vancouver writing teacher Mandy Len Catron offers further proof of the thesis by recounting her own experience following Aron’s recipe.

Catron writes:

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.

Aron, who runs the Interpersonal Relationships Lab at Stony Brook University in New York, devised 36 questions and prompts that become increasingly more intimate: When did you last sing to yourself? Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. 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.

In 1997, Aron and his colleagues published a study of their findings on creating closeness. They wrote:

We think that the closeness produced in these studies is experienced as similar in many important ways to felt closeness in naturally occurring relationships that develop over time. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the procedure produces loyalty, dependence, commitment, or other relationship aspects that might take longer to develop.

As Wired’s David Rowan discovered in 2011, the experiment is successful at creating a connection between entrepreneurs and executives, as well as forging bonds between people of different races or groups like police and members of the community.

While there are myriad factors that go into the viability of a romantic relationship, Aron’s exercise reveals that at love’s core, trust and intimacy can be created.

THE 36 QUESTIONS TO FALL IN LOVE

  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. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

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

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

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

  11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

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

  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 dreamt 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.

Good luck falling in love.

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About Olumide Lawrence

OLUMIDE LAWRENCE is a writer, an artiste and a publicist. Started out as a PLAYER, now I am a Relationship COACH. Follow me on twitter @ilummynation and instagram @glowville Facebook: Olumide ilummynation Lawrence. BBM: 2A3B059E, 7E15126B.

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