Have you ever wondered if there was a perfect way to fall in love with someone?
In 1997, psychologist Arthur Aron explored whether intimacy between two strangers could be stimulated by having them ask each other a series of questions. What followed was a list of 36 questions now popularized as ‘36 Questions to Fall in Love’. The aforementioned questions range from fascinating - "Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?" to deeply personal "Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?"
As we live through a global pandemic where physical interaction is limited and long-distance relationships are the norm, the act of forming and maintaining connections has become increasingly difficult. I decided to put these questions to the test by choosing four pairs (to whom I am eternally grateful) all in different kinds of relationships, to discern whether these questions could be used, not only to find true love but also to strengthen or rekindle existing relationships. Here’s how it went:
Nature of the Relationship: The two are in a same-sex relationship and have been seeing each other for 10 months. A huge portion of this time has been spent in a long-distance arrangement.
Their take: Both women felt that the questions made them feel incredibly loved. It was a good way to communicate with each other and it brought to light certain values of the relationship that they had not known existed. While one of them did feel like she could have done without the ‘heavy’ questions which brought up things she had not wished to discuss, both agreed that the overall experience had been wholesome.
Would they recommend it? The duo said that the questions are akin to 'Couples Therapy' and while it may not be the best way to get to know a mere acquaintance, it is certainly a great way to get to know someone you already like.
Spoiler Alert: It will be hard to resist the urge to break that laptop screen and hug your significant other!
Nature of the Relationship: The couple got married six months ago and have spent every minute together ever since, due to the lockdown.
Their take: Their favorite part of the experience was the final activity which involved both participants staring into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes. They thought that it was a unique concept and unlike anything they had ever tried before. Although there were no big surprise factors in the questions, the pair felt like it helped them put into words vague thoughts that they didn’t often vocalize. When asked to use one word to describe the experience, both said ‘necessary’ in unison.
Would they recommend it? While the test may not help one fall in love, the newlyweds thought that it was a good exercise for any two people who are keen to get to know each other better. They thought it was especially useful for romantic couples, pointing out - "It makes you realize why you fell in love with them in the first place."
Nature of the Relationship: These two guys have known each other for a year. Their friendship is entirely platonic.
Their take: Although they had had deep conversations before, they had never discussed their past to this extent. One of them noted that the questions helped him discover his friend’s close bond with his brother which he had been unaware of. Each felt like the activity had made him understand the other better. It allowed them to reconnect after some time, which is what made it even more special and fun.
Would they recommend it? The pair said that while the questions would have maximum effect when tried with an acquaintance, they would also suggest it to close friends and those friends who have drifted apart. One even mentioned that he would love to try it out with his girlfriend!
Nature of the Relationship: The only "strangers" on this list, these two met on a matrimonial site and have been talking for a month. They have never actually met IRL.
Their take: Up until this point their conversations had been relatively serious. The questions paved the way for more comfortable and candid conversations and enabled them to get to know each other’s fun side. The experience was ‘a step in the right direction’ for their relationship and did away with any awkwardness they had felt in the past.
Would they recommend it? Although the couple didn’t declare that it made them fall in love with one another, they agreed that it was a nice way to get to know someone and also find out what they like about you. In an arrangement such as theirs, where there is usually a fixed set of things one thinks of asking, these questions are a delightful way to explore other aspects of someone’s personality.
If you truly want to get to know someone - a friend, a significant other or even a sibling, these 36 questions are a heartwarming way to do so. At a time when every day is so monotonous that it’s easy to run out of things to talk about, this could be the necessary spark you need to stay in touch with your partner. Unfortunately, this activity may not be enough to make your crush fall in love with you. As Sima Aunty has made us realize, your efforts will be meaningless if the stars are not aligned. Nevertheless, I would advise you to try them out, if not with someone else then just by yourself. This activity urges you to delve into your own experiences and will give you the chance to say your 3 a.m. thoughts out loud.
I cannot promise love but I can promise that you will walk away with a deeper understanding of your partner and most importantly, yourself.