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.
Compliments are nice things to say to people, and by “people,” I am including your partner – especially if you want to keep relationship / marriage romance alive!
Are you more likely to thank a waiter for bringing you a glass of water, or your partner? If your answer is, I am more likely to thank them both, and I do so regularly, then you might already be off to a good start with strategy # 25. When you have nice things to say to people, otherwise known as compliments, you are developing a habit that will pay off in your marriage romance department (or pre-marriage for that matter). Just be sure you have nice things to say to your partner, too!
Do you ever tire of hearing, “You look great, baby,” or, “Good job, I’m so proud of you!” and, “What a great dinner – thanks for cooking,” and, “I couldn’t have picked a better partner in the entire world.” I know I don’t about you, but I don’t tire of hearing these sorts of things. Ironically, the more we say nice things to people, the more nice things we hear. Guess it’s true, what goes around, comes around.
Do you know the two most important ingredients to sustaining a long-lasting romance, according to researcher John Gottman?
Fondness and admiration.
When you say nice things to your partner, you are making one of the most powerful feel-good contributions you can make to your relationship on an every-day basis to create a strong foundation of fondness and admiration. When you find multiple ways to express your fondness for your partner, and you are able to communicate your admiration, you will benefit from her feeling desired. To keep the home fires burning, both partners need to continue feeling good about themselves. Random, authentic, compliments to one another is a great way to fan the flames of marriage romance. You are likely already thinking many things, the key is to start saying them OUT LOUD.
What are other nice things to say to your partner to improve your marriage romance?
- Time with you is my favorite.
- I always enjoy your company.
- There is no one I would rather spend time with than you.
- Thank you for being so good to me.
- I love how you love me.
- You make me laugh.
- I have so much fun with you.
- There’s no one I’d rather wake up to every morning than you.
- I can’t help but smile when I see you.
- I am a better person because of you.
- You are so talented, I love how you…
- I admire your ability to…
- I am so proud to be your girl.
You can say nice things to people about their appearance, abilities, personality, behaviors, style, humor, values, what they do, how they move in the world, ways they make you feel, etc. The list of compliments is really endless. What nice things to say to people are you comfortable with? (Share in comments section if you want).
Also, when you make it a habit to have nice things to say to people, it becomes second nature. Clearly, you will not say to your friends, family and coworkers the same romantic sentiments you share with your partner, but the more you practice giving compliments to people, the easier it is to do with everyone.
Share at least one compliment a day with your partner. A compliment a day keeps the therapist away.
Five Key Areas of Relationship Success and Healthy Relationship Goals Examples
The Gottman Relationship Checkup is a 480 question, online assessment created by Dr’s John and Julie Gottman. With 40+ years of extensive scientific research on what makes relationships succeed, the Gottman’s have created a Relationship Checkup tool to examine in detail the five key areas of relationship success, and under each category are related relationship goals examples.
The major categories of importance for a healthy relationship according to scientific Gottman-based research. (Also, relationship goals examples)
Section 1: How strong is your friendship and intimacy?
- We feel satisfied with our relationship.
- We feel secure in our commitment to one another, without the fear of abandonment or being left.
- We feel equally known by one another.
- We share a mutual fondness and admiration for one another.
- We show interest in one another and enjoy one another’s company.
- We enjoy a satisfying and romantic connection.
- We have satisfying sex and enjoy connecting sexually.
- We connect sexually at a frequency that works well for both of us.
- We feel a part of a team, united and do not suffer from loneliness.
Section 2: How does it feel to be in your relationship?
- We know what to predict from one another and we feel safe in our relationship.
- We share a mutual trust for one another and believe the other has our back.
- We are equally committed to our relationship.
- We are comfortable with one another’s emotions and have a shared desire to be a supportive comfort when one of us is not feeling emotionally or physically well.
Section 3: How well do you manage conflict?
- Our conflict is something we do not fear because we know we have the skills to manage whatever disagreements arise.
- We are capable of delaying conflicts interactions until we are in a safe and appropriate setting to properly address the concerns at hand.
- We feel respected and heard when we experience a disagreement. Neither of us feels overwhelmed or frozen with fear or the inability to think and speak, during a disagreement.
- We value one another’s opinions and believe that we are heard by one another.
- We are willing to compromise.
- We manage our negative emotions and protect our relationship from negativity toward ourselves and one another.
- When we experience a conflict, we find ways to understand one another and make peace with our differences of opinion. We are able to repair our connection and let the conflict go for good.
- We feel emotionally connected.
- We accept that stress is a part of life, and we support one another by seeking to make life easier for each other.
- We maintain healthy boundaries between our relationship and the relationships we share with friends, extended family, work and other relationships.
- We appreciate the importance of our mutual independence, and we do not place limits on one another that stems from insecurity.
- We are faithful and honest.
- We share basic values and goals.
- We are equitable with household chores and child responsibilities.
- We are in agreement with our financial decisions.
- We experience joy, laughter, and fun together.
- Our spirituality, religion and ethics are in alignment.
- We agree on issues related to parenthood.
- We manage distressing events as a team, supporting one another rather than turning against one another.
- We resolve issues rather than keeping them alive. We accept that some differences will remain, and we allow this rather than continue working to “change,” the other.
Section 4: Are you headed in the same direction?
- We have rituals that help us stay connected.
- We respect one another’s personal and life goals and desire to assist one another in reaching them, while also nurturing our shared goals.
Section 5: Individual Areas of Concern
- Neither of us abuse drugs or alcohol
- We are emotionally stable and free of any self-harming thoughts.
- We are safe with one another, both physically and emotionally.
- We feel a sense of personal freedom without the threat of emotional or physical threat or harm.
- We feel supported and encouraged, not degraded or criticized.
- Sex is a positive thing in our relationship.
- We do not experience any property damage when we disagree.
- We are physically healthy and free of chronic health concerns.
- We experience positive thoughts and feelings about one another and our relationship.
- We are confident in ourselves and secure that we are viewed positively and well by others.
- We are emotionally stable and at peace in our skin.
- We are free of anxiety, depression, and anger.
- We do not experience disabling fears or phobias.
- Fears and Phobias
- Do You Worry about What Others Think?
- Our thoughts are clear and helpful.
- We have normal appetites, neither over or under-eating.
- We fall asleep easily, sleep well, and awake easily in the morning.
- We are not focused on death or dying.
- We are free of guilt
How do you rate with these relationship goals examples and checklist? To do the thorough Relationship Checkup and receive a detailed report with suggestions about how to improve the health of your relationship go here.
The Gottman Relationship Checkup
WHAT IS THE GOTTMAN RELATIONSHIP CHECKUP?
The Gottman Relationship Checkup is an online healthy relationship assessment scale that is comprised of 480 questions which cover five categories of importance to healthy and satisfying relationships. Each partner is provided a private (and separate) link to the Relationship Checkup, and once each partner has completed the questions, a report is generated with the results of your current relationship health. This report is sent to the verified therapist with whom you are working (in this case, me). The verified therapist will then provide the results of your assessment.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TYPES OF COUPLES TO DO THE RELATIONSHIP CHECKUP?
All couples can benefit from the Gottman Relationship Checkup. This relationship assessment scale does not replace therapy, and it is designed to assist functional couples (not couples in crisis), in deepening their understanding of existing relationships strengths and challenges.
- Healthy couples who are hoping to stay that way. This option is for healthy couples such as those considering a commitment or marriage, or couples who feel good about life together, but know that it’s important to continue to prevent issues from surfacing. This path is designed to offer couples a basic couple checkup. You can validate that “Yes! Our relationship is strong and on the right track!” And, like most healthy couples, you will learn more about what could make your already good relationship even better.
- For couples struggling with the connection, communication, specific issues such as family or origin boundaries, relationships with ex’s, constant conflicts and misunderstandings, etc… This is a great tool to help you access the heart of your relationship issues quickly and effectively. You can expedite the counseling process, or possibly gain the insights and strategies you need to begin working on your relationship without pursuing professional assistance. The Gottman Relationship Checkup is a great way to get a very detailed overview of your relationship, as well as a detailed roadmap of where to begin focusing your efforts to improve your relational skills. You will receive separate (private) reports for each partner with specific steps to get you moving in the direction of a “better us,” as well as a relationship overview for you to explore as a couple.
WHAT IS THE COST OF THE COUPLE CHECKUP?
The cost of the Relationship Checkup with Michele O’Mara, PhD is $145.00. This cost includes one relationship overview report and two separate and private individual Relationship Checkup Reports for each partner. One report will provide a general relationship overview and interpretation of the assessment results. This will include specific observations about what is working and what needs attention, as well as suggestions and strategies for how to begin doing that work together. Separately, each partner will receive a second report (both pdf files) about his or her individual strengths and challenges, along with specific suggestions to assist each partner in taking personal steps toward healthier behaviors in your partnership.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COMPLETE THE RELATIONSHIP ASSESSMENT SCALE?
Depending on the complexity of your relationship issues, and whether or not you choose to provide additional comments, this typically takes from one to two hours to complete.
IF I AM UNABLE TO COMPLETE THE GOTTMAN RELATIONSHIP CHECKUP ALL AT ONCE, WILL I BE ABLE TO SAVE MY WORK FOR THE NEXT TIME I LOG IN?
You can log in multiple times to complete your survey. The program will save your confidential information in your password-protected login area.
WILL MY ANSWERS BE SEEN BY MY PARTNER?
No. You will not have access to one another’s answers unless you decide to share your passwords. This is discouraged, however, because it can diminish the effectiveness of the relationship assessment scale. (It’s important that you answer the questions knowing that no one but you and the therapist will see them).
DO ALL QUESTIONS HAVE TO BE ANSWERED?
Yes. There are also areas for additional comment if you wish to expand on your answer.
WHO CREATED THIS TOOL?
Dr. John Gottman and Julie Gottman. Dr. John Gottman is a clinical psychologist who has completed more than 40 years of research on couples. Dr. Julie Gottman is a clinical psychologist who has been practicing these techniques with couples in various settings.
Wonder what a healthy partnership in love is? Read about it here. Or, lesbian couples can take the Healthy Relationship Quiz here.
Lesbian Couples Workshop
From Conflict to Connection (Part I) (workshop access in-person and online)
SUNDAY, 9 APRIL 2017 | 09:00AM – 05:30PM
Description of From Conflict to Connection, Lesbian Couples Workshop (part I)
This is PART I of a two-part workshop. Each workshop is a stand-alone experience and does not require that you attend the other. However, if you do wish to take both, you receive a 15% discount on the second workshop (and the order doesn’t matter). This workshop offers you very specific research based skills to improve your relationship. The research has been conducted by John Gottman, author or many books on relationships, including, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
In this two-part lesbian couples workshop, I will address 12 skills. We will cover six specific relationship skills in each of the separate one-day-workshops. Part of Dr. Gottman’s claim to fame is that he can predict a relationship’s demise by whether or not couples engage in certain behaviors.
In the Lesbian Couples Workshop Part I, you will learn the answers to the following questions:
- How do we make our relationship a place that feels good to both of us?
- What is the single most powerful change we can make to encourage a greater feeling of connection and mutual understanding?
- How can we approach tough issues so that we are likely to hear and respect each other’s point of view?
- What is the number one behavior that leads to a relationship breakup, and how can we protect ourselves from this?
- If we feel like we are constantly being criticized by each other, how can we break that cycle and create greater understanding and a more positive outcome?
- What is the number one way to eliminate defensiveness from our relationship?
Regarding sharing and self-disclosure.
This is a common question/concern for couples. However, it is up to each couple what and how much you decide to share. This is not a therapy group, as much as it is a relationship skill-building class. This is a content-heavy class, with a strong emphasis on research-based information that will be used to improve your relationship skills. There will be a lot of information to digest. We will not be processing individual couple’s issues, however, we will be discussing common experiences, frustrations and concerns that the new skills can help address.
What happens after the workshop?
Over the years I have learned that my workshops offer people a chance to make new couple friends, and I work to support your continued contact. I have also learned that if you do not put this information to use, you will not maximize your benefit. Toward that end, I provide the following two options for you once the workshop ends.
- Connect with New Couple Friends: A hidden benefit of these workshops is the opportunity to connect with other couples. Toward that end, you will be invited to join a groupme text group with your fellow classmates, and communicate with them after class ends.
- Email Reminders with Class Content and Exercises: I am planning to create a series of follow-up emails to give you reminders each week for six weeks following the workshop. These emails will offer you a reminder about the suggested activities for you to practice once you leave the training. You will also be provided with handouts.
- Lesbian Couples Workshop – From Conflict to Connection (Part I). If you find this experience helpful, there is a part two to this workshop, and because you have enrolled in this one, you receive a 15% discount on the next one, should you decide to participate.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS $315 PER COUPLE (click) | $157.50 PER PARTNER (if paying separately)
The Lesbian Couples Workshop will introduce you to six specific skills that help you prevent conflict, as well as increase connection.
- Create a positive relationship environment.
- Interrupt unproductive conflicts with this new behavior.
- Start all tough conversations so you are guaranteed a better outcome.
- Recognize and change the number one behavior that leads to a breakup.
- Transform criticism into greater understanding and compassion.
- Redirect defensiveness into powerful insights and new responses.
- 9:00am-12:30pm: Skills 1-3
- 12:30pm-1:45pm: lunch on your own
- 1:45pm-5:15pm: Skills 4-6
- 5:15pm-5:30pm: Wrap-up
Workbooks provided. (PDF workbooks for those registered online)
- In-person location is located at Office Suites West, 2680 E Main Street, Plainfield, IN 46168 (seats for 8 couples available)
- Online access is available for 8 couples via zoom.us (details provided upon registration)
Reference Books by John Gottman
Once you make payment, I will contact you with details about the WORKSHOP, “Lesbian Couples Workshop: From Conflict to Connection” Be sure you check your email associated with your Paypal Account, or email me if you would like me to contact you at a different email.
If you cancel within 15 days of the workshop your payment will be refunded. If you cancel within less than 15 days of the workshop the deposit will not be refunded unless there is an unforeseen emergency such as death or illness. Break-ups are not considered an unforeseen emergency – you can attend even if you have broken up. In fact, I recommend it!
While I have completed all three levels of the Gottman Clinical Training, I have not pursued Gottman certification, as I more closely align with the principles of Imago therapy. Thus, I am Gottman educated and Imago certified. Both schools of thought are valuable resources for couples wishing to depend their connection, and strengthen their relationship. As with most of my workshops, I have tailored this workshop to lesbian relationships, as that has been my area of speciality for the past two decades. Therefore, this workshop is not an Art & Science of Love workshop by Gottman, nor is it a Getting the Love You Want workshop by Harville Hendrix. This is a workshop designed specifically by me, based on my work with lesbian couples, emphasizing how to apply the research gathered by Dr. John Gottman.
Lesbian Couples Advice # 17
Be Curious, Not Critical.
When you become frustrated with your partner about something she has done, is your first instinct to be critical? Lesbian couples who want happy relationships must lean into curiosity before launching any criticism.
Imagine your partner is often asleep on the couch when you come home from work. After many days of this routine, you find yourself irritated, thinking, “Again?!!”
Your choices are to be curious, or to be critical. Curiosity sounds like this: “Now I wonder what is going on with her that she needs to take a nap everyday?” This inside voice helps you prepare a thoughtful question, like, “Honey, have you been feeling okay? I’m worried about how tired you seem lately?”
Criticism sounds like this: “You are sleeping your life away, and mine too for that matter! Everyday I come home I find you on the couch, asleep; the dishes are dirty, the house is a mess, the bills need paid, there is a lot of stuff to do around here and what are you doing? You’re sleeping!”
To enter the land of happy lesbian couples, slowly begin to shift your perspective about how you see your partner. NOTICE the thoughts you are having. If they are critical, turn those critical thoughts into useful questions. Here’s a helpful tip: questions that start with “WHY?” tend to be judgmental and really questions disguised as criticisms.
If you find yourself having critical thoughts and feelings about her on a regular basis, you may want to start a gratitude log and work to find things about her that you appreciate. Share as many of these appreciations you have for her out loud so she can know that you do have kind, loving thoughts, too. I’m guessing she is craving them.
Perhaps you feel like she is equally critical of you? This is not a game you want to win. In fact, here’s an article I wrote about the power of competing to be the kindest. That’s the kind of game you want to win with your partner!
Happy lesbian couples know, criticisms are toxic, negative, hostile thoughts and expressions that lead to anger, resentment and frustration for both parties. Get more curious, seek understanding and offer up more appreciations. You get what you give.
Click here to schedule couples counseling with Michele O’Mara, PhD