[imagesource: Emilija Manevska / Getty Images]
People love a quick fix, so when a formula for falling in love was proposed by Mandy Len Catron in her viral 2015 New York Times essay, everyone jumped on board.
The idea was that all you needed was “36 questions of love”, a notion which took dating culture by storm.
Based on a study by psychologist Arthur Aron, which explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions, 36 questions are broken up into three sets, each more probing than the next.
Besides two research participants who took part in the study back in 1997 who fell in love through this formula, Mandy says she used the 36 questions with a university acquaintance on a casual night out and they fell in love.
In that vein, she proposed that it should then work for everyone else. But does it?
While social media, dating websites, and dating coaches might suggest they’re a surefire, scientific way to find and fall in love, things seem to have been a little lost in science to pop culture translation, per W24:
The research aim was to determine if progressively increasing disclosure increases closeness between two strangers. The research was not designed to test whether the questions lead to love.
Seven weeks after participating in the study, it was found 57% of the matched pairs had a follow-up conversation, 35% did something together (no more details were provided), and 37% went on to sit together in class. But again, none of these findings have anything to do with people finding love and going on to have a long-term relationship.
Overall, it looks like the dating world generalised the love-generating properties of the 36 questions based on one, if not a handful of successful case(s).
Still, there are valid takeaways from the concept of asking a series of questions slowly but surely to get to know someone:
It is a high bar to set early in a relationship to expect a partner to respond appropriately to another who discloses highly personal information about oneself. Generally speaking, over-disclosure in the early stages of relationships can be problematic, especially for those who are anxious about their relationships.
So taking a gradual and measured approach to self-disclosure and ensuring each partner has the opportunity to disclose at a comfortable pace is very important.
The truth about finding love might be closer to the fact that it starts with a decision and is followed through with hard work, thorough communication, and honest self-reflection.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test the 36 questions theory out yourself. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Head here and ask away.
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