Thursday, January 15, 2015

39 Questions to Help You Fall in Love

Trigger for interpersonal attraction

Can you make someone become intimately close to you -- even fall in love with you -- in less than an hour? Psychologist Arthur Aron not only claims that this is fairly possible, but he succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory.

Doctor Aron -- known to friends as Art -- runs the Interpersonal Relationships Lab at Stony Brook University on the north shore of Long Island, east of New York City, and his passion is love. Passionate love, unreciprocated love, romantic attraction, unexpected arousal, pure lust -- all aspects of human intimacy that fascinate this much-published psychology professor specializing in what causes people to fall in and out of love and form other deep relationships ("the self-expansion model of motivation and cognition in personal relationships", as his resume puts it). He has built his reputation on papers with titles such as "The neural basis of long-term romantic love", "Motivations for unreciprocated love" and "A prototype of relationship boredom". However, such dry academic language belies the shockingly powerful nature of some of his team's lab work.

Back in 1997, Aron and colleagues published a paper in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness". They wanted to know if they could create lab conditions that would make strangers quickly bond and form close friendships, even romantic engagements, after just a few minutes.

They arranged volunteers in pairs, and gave them a list of 36 questions that, one by one, they were both asked to answer openly over a 45 minutes "in a kind of sharing game". Even before the time was up, respondents typically said, they felt unusually close to the person they had shared questions with.

Each next question on the list gets progressively more personal, beginning with, “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” before probing under the surface into treasured memories, deepest wishes, the state of the other person’s relationship with Mom, even the role of love and affection in the other person’s life.

At the end of the session, Aron had each pair stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes. At the end of the study, according to his research, the duos had grown significantly closer. And, at the end of six months, one male-female couple had fallen in love and gotten married.

Magic Questions

The 39 questions, used in the study are divided into 4 sets (the brief optional 3-questions forth set was added later):

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. 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?

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 have dreamed of doing for a long time? Why have not 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 was?
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 have 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.

Set IV (optional)

37. If you could choose the sex and physical appearance of your soon-to-be-born child, would you do it?
38. Would you be willing to have horrible nightmares for a year if you would be rewarded with extraordinary wealth?
39. While on a trip to another city, your spouse/lover meets and spends a night with an exciting stranger. Given that they will never meet again, and could never otherwise learn of the incident, would you want your partner to tell you about it?


Prepare four sets of slips, listed above. Each slip has a question or a task written on it. As soon as both participants finish reading these instructions, they should begin with the Set I slips. One of them should read aloud the first slip and then BOTH do what it asks, starting with the person who read the slip aloud. When they are both done, they should move on to the second slip--one of them reading it aloud and both doing what it asks. And so forth.

As people go through the slips, one at a time, please explain that they should not skip any slips, doing each in the order of the preset numbers. If it asks a question, the person who reads it, shares his answer with the partner. Then he or she shares the answer to the same question. If it is a task, reader is approaching it first, and then letting the partner to do it next. Consider alternating of who reads aloud (and thus goes first) with each new slip.

Take plenty of time with each slip, doing what it asks thoroughly and thoughtfully.

Why it May Works?

The main idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.

It is true you cannot choose who loves you, and you cannot create romantic feelings based on convenience alone. Science tells us biology matters; our pheromones and hormones do a lot of work behind the scenes. Nevertheless, despite all this, maybe love is a more flexible thing than we make it out to be. Or, to be more specific, we are more flexible for whom we can fall in love with under certain circumstances. Arthur Aron’s study taught us that it is possible — simple, even — to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.

So, love is not something that just happens to us in most cases. We may fell in love because we can make the conscious or subconscious choices to do so. With the right person, specific body language, and taking turns to disclose certain intimate things about yourselves, you can bring about strong feelings of love and intimacy. Dr. Aron affirmed the expectation that the person was going to like them had a huge effect. “If you ask people about their experience of falling in love, over 90 percent will say that a major factor was discovering that the other person liked them.”

Sources and Additional Information:

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