Falling in love is the most delicious feeling.
OK, OK it can be totally crazy-making too (as the Hot Priest from Fleabag reminds us so eloquently in this awesome clip) but, all in all, it’s bloody wonderful. Who wouldn’t want to fall in love?!
So here’s the thing: about 20 years ago, a psychologist by the name of Arthur Aron conducted a study which explored whether getting two people that had never met to ask each other a set of 36 specific personal questions would make them develop feelings for each other. They are then asked to look into each other’s eyes for four minutes. He succeeded in making a pair of his test subjects fall in love. In fact, six months after the experiment, they were married.
This experiment has since been tried, tested and written about by lots of people (seriously, Google it if you want to read their experiences – the looking into the eyes bit seems to be the most squirm-worthy part). The outcome seems to be that, even if don’t end up walking down the aisle with your question partner, there are a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings generated.
It’s all to do with the questions putting the subjects into a state of mutual vulnerability and that in turn brings them naturally closer, apparently.
Of course, as a celebrant, I’m all about celebrating love. So yes, I have an ulterior motive in you trying this experiment: after all, if you fall in love as a result, then you might be wanting to engage my services in a few months’ time (mwoo hahahaaa!)
But it occurs to me that it might be worth trying this if you’re already in a relationship. Not with another person (that could get awkward…) but with each other. You could ask these questions on a date night, or take it one by one over the course of a month and a bit. If it works for strangers, imagine where it could lead with people who are already invested.
I have no lab, white coats really wash me out and I don’t even own a clipboard, so you’re going to have to work with me here. I do, however, have bags of curiosity about this and so I’m sending this not-at-all-controlled experiment out into cyberspace, in the hope you’ll be up for falling (deeper) in love and inspired to give it a go.
Whether you do all the questions in one night or you spread them out over weeks, it’s important that you take turns in asking them of each other, and that you ask them in the right order.
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 dreamed 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.
…now look into each other’s eyes for four minutes without saying anything.
But aren’t you itching to give it a go?!?
Go on, I dare you… Let me know how you get on. Especially if you fall in love (or fall deeper i love!) And if you need a wedding celebrant, you know who to call.