[SoG] Want to fall in love? Make better friends? Ask these 36 questions!

36 questions to bring you closer!

Today's a short one. And on #relationships - something that I need a big big improvement on!

But before that, here is a confession. When I was writing this, I had two or three title options in mind. These were...

  • Make anyone your next best friend.

  • Get anyone to fall in love with you. In 36 questions.

  • Secrets of friendships? Revealed!

  • 36 things to ask your lover. Now!

All these look and sound like click-bait pieces by those PUAs. But, lemme assure you, they are not.

This SoG is actually an outcome of a scientific study that postulates that if you want to make someone fall in love with you, you need to ask them 36 simple questions. Now, from partners to couples to friends to even love for strangers, love comes in multiple shapes and sizes and forms and all that. So, read on.

So, I first read about it in this 2015 Modern Love piece in The New York Times. The article features a podcast where the host is talking about an old experiment by Arthur Aron where he set about to understand "whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions."

He designed three sets of questions, each set progressively "deeper" than the previous.

These questions to be deeply probing, making the participants (in pairs) open up about their vulnerabilities to each other. He believed that "mutual vulnerability fosters closeness." The questions range from as simple as "18. What is your most terrible memory?" to as complex as "2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?". The full list is here.

When he ran the research, he found evidence that this actually works!
I mean who'd have imagined that you could break something as enigmatic, as mysterious, as beautiful to a mere set of questions?

In fact, inspired by these questions, the NY Times team made this 5-minute long film. YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!

And truth be told I had forgotten about the questions and the experiment until I saw this tweet a couple of days ago. And it brought back painful memories of a time when I ran through this list with the then lover of mine!

The Hot Beverage and The List
So, lemme get personal.

Some time ago, I was seeing this amazing woman, and like with any relationship it had been sometime now and I realized that she and I were drifting apart. She was of course a keeper and I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure that we stay together.

I found this research and I cajoled her into agreeing to participate. Like any other Type A person, I printed the list out and got freshly sharpened pencils. Like any easy-going person, she sat down with her hot beverage of choice. On a hunch, I grabbed a few pillows and placed them strategically around us.

We started with the list. The first two were nice. Made us realize that we liked each other and there is no reason why we couldn't be partners for 7 janams.

The fourth one was the first one that made us uncomfortable. The voices got a tad higher and the answers a tad curt.

Till the 7th, things seemed under control. With an occasional outburst from her and me.

Around the 10th, I could sense confusion, anger, and frustration creeping in. The hot beverage and the sharpened pencil in her hands were aimed perilously at me now. Instinctively, I stacked the pillows tighter and closer, just to fend off any "accidents"!

With the 12th, the first sign of water in the eyes was seen.

By the 15th, the grip on the pencil slowly had changed. From how you'd hold it to write to how you'd hold it to stab someone. Thankfully the hot beverage was cold now.

Thankfully by the 18th, we decided that the list is not for us. Without any pillows getting hurt in the process. Phew!

But I did have to sleep on the couch that night. In the hall. Without the pillows, of course. And that was first of many subsequent nights that I spent tossing and turning on a flat couch, without the pillows.

Before you ask, even wine did not help!

The lesson? The message?
The questions work.
But not always.
And never go through these with hot beverages or sharpened pencils around you.

In the end
Ok, that was my attempt at adding humor (based on feedback from you guys) while delivering a "lesson".

The research actually holds merit and you must try to run through those questions with your partner. And no, you don't have the go in the order (though the sets need to be maintained) and you can space these over time (you don't have to go through these in one sitting - maybe that's the mistake I made?). And these work on all kinds of relationships (not just romantic).

If you do try this, lemme know how it fared!

With this, over and out :)

Oh, one more thing.
If you read till this far and you want to try this, I'd love to engage with you in this experiment.
Lemme know and let's get started :)
Yeah, I have way too much time on my hands ;P

So yeah! That's about it for the week.
Hope you had a great weekend.
If you like this, please do share this with people that ought to read this!
The article that prompted this piece is part of the Modern Love series where they get readers to contribute their versions of love. It is everything that I want to create. People. Love. Writing. Storytelling. It is so popular that it was finally adapted into a video series on Amazon Prime Video. Do check it. What else would you do on a rainy day :D
Footnote 1 - PLUG!
I recently took this session on taking better and effective notes that could be super useful for knowledge workers. Like with all other things, I don't claim to be an expert. Rather, I am merely tinkering with it and while I do that, I want to share. The response from participants was really encouraging and I want to do more sessions and perfect the pitch. The next one, specifically for friends and family is on the 12th of July, at 8 PM IST. If you'd like to attend, please reply to this mail. Or fill in this form.


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