36 Questions To Fall in Love went viral, but does it work?
By now you have probably heard that there are 36 questions to fall in love with anyone. This idea was given a public platform January 9, 2015, in a New York Times article titled, To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This, by Mandy Len Catron. This idea went viral. It’s not surprising in our culture of quick fixes and fast solutions, that a 36-Question guarantee to fall in love would spread like wildfire. Who wouldn’t want to have that sort of love potion, with ingredients accessible to every last one of us…by simply asking 36 questions to fall in love, or make someone fall in love with us.
If you missed the original article by Mandy Len Catron, here’s a brief backstory that will help put this in perspective. In the article, Catron explained that she would occasionally run into a “university acquaintance” while at the climbing gym. In one of her random encounters with the climbing-gym-aquaintance, the two struck up a conversation. To her readers, she confessed to having had a pre-existing curiosity about him, saying she wondered, “what if?” after having “a glimpse into his days on Instagram.”
Wittingly, Catron found a way to weave into her conversation with this fellow-climber, a story about a research study she had read by Dr. Arthur Aron. The study, she explained to him, “tried making people fall in love” by having research participants ask and answer 36 questions. This study was published in 1997, and it is the original home of the 36 Questions to Fall in Love. Next she explained to fellow-climber, “I’ve always wanted to try it.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I consider this some pretty advanced-level flirting. I’m impressed.
Predictably, fellow-climber-guy took the bait, and responded by suggesting that they try the questions together. They met at a local bar over drinks. With iPhone in hand, Mandy cued up the 36 questions, and they passed the phone back and forth, taking turns answering each one. By design, the questions progress from less revealing to more and more personal. Clearly, doing this experiment over drinks at a bar, with someone you have an existing curiosity about, is significantly different than the lab research by Dr. Aron. However, the spirit of the research is kept alive, as Catron observes, “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.” She alludes to how the questions forced her out of her safe zone where she could manage how she was being perceived, and took her into territories that required greater vulnerability. As the questions intensify, the road ahead becomes less familiar, and this 36 questions adventure invites more and more self-disclosure.
Taking much longer than the 45 minutes allotted for Dr. Aron’s research participants, Catron and her climber-guy decide to do a suggested activity involving 4 silent minutes of eye contact with one another at the conclusion of asking and answering all 36 questions. Preferring more privacy than the bar allowed, they decide to walk to a nearby bridge, stand on the highest point, and exchange four minutes of silent eye contact. As Catron brings her story to a close, she reveals that she and climber-guy started dating after that night, and as of last report, they are still dating.
While it’s a more fun to think Cupid’s arrow was built with these 36 Questions, a quick look at the facts tells us we are going to need more than 36 questions to fall in love (and though I have 1,000 more questions if you wish to ask them, I’m not talking about more questions. There are great lessons we can learn from Catron, though, about how we can effectively improve our own search for love, as well as our efforts to nourish the love we have. What strikes me as important pieces of Catron and fellow-climber-now-boyfriend’s love story are these things:
- Curiosity. This is how all real connection begins – having an interest in someone.
- Reciprocation. When curiosity is reciprocated, the potential for a spark exists. It doesn’t work if it’s only one-way.
- Vulnerability. This is the risk-taking part, that opens us to hurt, yet also forms a foundation of trust and intimacy for a relationship to grow.
- Take action. To build love we must do something. Love isn’t a thing we have, it’s a thing we do – so to find it, grow it, and maintain it, we must take action. Love is a practice that never ends, because love is the practice and the practice is the love.
If you want to be an epic sparkster (spark starter) like Catron, here’s a challenge that will give you the perfect opportunity to take a risk to get to know someone better (or to better your knowing of someone you love) – THE 36 QUESTIONS CHALLENGE.
Speaking of practicing love, this recent Style video from the New York Times Modern Love video series, is a perfect ending to this post. Enjoy this quick video that highlights three long-term couples who ask one another the 36 questions to fall in love. Their experiences are captured in this touching video. You will see the unfolding of exactly how curiosity and vulnerability combine to make the perfect intimacy cocktail, and their answers highlight the fact that love is a practice, a thing we do.
The 36 Questions Challenge
The 36 Questions Challenge is an invitation to connect to someone… to anyone. These are the same 36 Questions that went viral in 2015 after Mandy Len Catron shared a story about how her and her now boyfriend, used these 36 questions as an experiment, and they fell in love. While there are no promises that you will fall in love, the odds are really, really high that you will feel significantly closer to any person with whom you do this exercise.
Give it a try… what do you have to lose?
Suggestions for how to use this 4 minute video of The 36 Questions Challenge:
- Invite someone you have a crush on to take the 36 Questions challenge with you. You can do this in person or online. (Yes, I’ve made it easy for you to duplicate the clever strategy used by Mandy Len Catron).
- Bring this up with a group of friends and pass the questions in a circle, with each answering one then passing to the next person to ask a question, then the next, until all 36 questions are answered by someone.
- Exchange these questions with your current partner to see how up-to-date you are on her!
- Use this at your next family gathering to generate some fun and create some meaningful conversation.
- Try this out on a stranger – maybe you have layover at the airport and time to kill, take a risk and invite a stranger to do the 36 questions challenge with you.
THE CHALLENGE VIDEO
Happy curiosity to you and your question-partner.
Wishing you much closeness and connection, and may you see and be seen, know and be known, love and be loved.
Strategy 16 for Happy Lesbian Couples: Do you know what the five love languages have in common?
While there are five love languages, (Gifts, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation), they all have one thing in common – GIVING ATTENTION. When you give gifts, give attention, give time, give acts of service, or give words of affirmation, you are giving your attention.
By the way, if you have not read the Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman, I view this book as required reading for all couples, and lesbian couples are no exception! I just checked, and there are 10,652 customer book reviews with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. So, yep, it’s a good one for your happy relationship reading list. If you don’t like to read, get the audio version here and listen to it together.
I do not know of a more basic method of expressing love, than that of simply giving someone your full
attention. Your attention may simply be listening, spending time together, or holding your partner when she needs held. Or, it may involve calling to check on her when she is feeling sick, or asking her to talk about her feelings when she seems blue. Maybe you pick up a special treat from her while you are out, and bring it home. Leave her a note on her car seat if she leaves after you do. The possibilities all include the five love languages, and they are endless.
Happy lesbian couples know that attention comes in many forms, and when you intend to let your lesbian love know she’s your priority, the one you choose, and that she matters to you, be sure you offer her your gazing, smiling, dancing eyes; your open, allowing and listening ears; your laughing, loving, and kissing lips; your soothing, sexy, complementing voice; your helping, healing, loving hands; and your embracing open and accepting arms. Be present, aware, and engaged. You are what she wants. Give her more of you.
Giving someone your full attention is possibly the single most powerful way to show someone you love them. Be among the happy lesbian couples who take time to better their relationships a little step at at time. You will be sure to increase your ability to speak the five love languages, too, if you keep expanding your list of ways to give her your attention.