36 questions to fall in love: Several years ago, a viral trend swept the internet, promising to create intimacy between two individuals by having them ask each other 36 increasingly personal questions..
However, the 36 questions to fall in love, does it work? This article will go deeper into that controversial claim by looking at the questions’ historical context, anecdotal testimonials from real users, psychological research on their efficacy, and more general aspects of how intimacy manifests in relationships.
Let’s go into the details briefly, The 36 Questions and Their Origins
The 36 questions gained popularity after they were mentioned in the 2015 article “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This” in the New York Times. Mandy Len Catron, the author of the essay, tried the exercise with a friend to test if the questions delivered on their promise of fostering intimacy between the answerers.
However, the questions themselves were not especially developed for the article. They originated from a 1997 study by psychologist Arthur Aron, who was researching ways to help interpersonal closeness develop.
The study put strangers in pairs and gave them a list of progressively more intimate questions to ask one another. After their encounters, the researchers looked at how close the pairs said they felt to one another.
The original study listed 45 questions, but Catron’s article popularized just 36 of them, cutting some out that were unnecessary or no longer applicable. Light-hearted inquiries like “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” Then they get increasingly deeper and more personal, which results in “What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?”
By the time the question is finished, it should have disclosed to the answerers’ underlying hopes, dreams, ideals, and vulnerabilities, forging a strong relationship between them. But does it work? Let’s examine some anecdotal evidence.
Individual Experiences from Real Couples Who Have Tried the 36 Questions
There are numerous accounts of actual relationships where the 36 questions were used to see what would happen. Results appear to differ greatly.
Some couples claim that after using the questions, they became closer and had wonderful conversations. Others said the inquiries felt forced or were offended by some of their partner’s responses.
Here are some interesting anecdotes:
- Mark and Jessica, who were casual friends, tried the questions during the 3 hours they were stuck in an airport together. They ended up feeling like they forged a deep connection and started dating shortly after.
- Chris and Samantha had hit a rut in their 10-year marriage. They turned to the questions to reboot intimacy and enjoyed meaningful conversations, but some questions dredged up painful issues as well.
- Lisa and Matt did the questions on their third date and had fun. But Lisa felt disappointed later when Matt didn’t seem as interested in her as she expected after the “fall in love” exercise.
- Tyler and Alex’s attempt at the 36 questions totally backfired. Tyler felt upset hearing about Alex’s exes, and Alex thought some of Tyler’s dreams seemed unrealistic. The awkwardness drove them apart.
Using this questionnaire can achieve varying degrees of success depending on the individuals and their circumstances.
As much as the hype suggested, it’s not an absolute guarantee to find love. Let’s now examine what psychology professionals think about everything.
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Scientific Research on the Effectiveness of the 36 Questions
A handful of follow-up studies have continued researching the effectiveness of Aron’s original 36 questions list, with interesting results.
In one study, Dominik Mischkowski and colleagues reconstructed the questionnaire with a group of strangers and looked at their interpersonal relationships.
They discovered that although the high disclosure increased emotions of closeness, it had no effect on how much the subjects liked one another.
Prof. Ronald Rogge updated the questionnaire for a different study in an effort to increase closeness between married couples who were having marital difficulties.
He discovered that it increased open communication between partners and relationship happiness.
But when he followed up a year later, the couples who tried the questions were no more satisfied than couples who had engaged in other bonding activities instead.
Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert summarizes the research’s findings as follows: “These questions probably produce brief increases in closeness…But they are unlikely to have long-lasting effects on relationships.”
He claims that the intensity of self-disclosure may at first thrill partners but wear off as your regular routines and weaknesses reappear.
Overall, the research shows that while asking these kinds of personal questions can help people connect and feel closer for a short period of time, it is not enough to sustain a connection over time. There are deeper factors at play.
What Really Makes Intimacy and Relationships Last? – 36 Questions to Fall in Love
While self-disclosure is beneficial to relationships, many psychologists believe that what matters most is how partners react to each other’s responses during these honest discussions. Making someone feel genuinely heard, understood, and cared for is more important than simply hearing out their wishes and anxieties.
To develop a long-term closeness with someone, you need to spend time together and share experiences. Overcoming obstacles together, going through significant life changes together, sharing plenty of laughs, and figuring out how to disagree without showing disrespect are ways to build this closeness. Strengthening the bond requires a combination of communication and actions.
Additionally, personal development has a factor, such as controlling your own emotional baggage rather than placing it all on a partner.
In other words, a list of questions cannot replace the effort and deliberate empathy needed to develop true closeness. If couples take part in activities like the 36 questions, the level of communication matters more than the subject matter.
It can become a healing experience if you both respond wisely while giving each other your complete attention.
Ethical Considerations of the 36 Questions
This leads to another debate that has emerged around the 36 questions sensation – is it even ethical to manufacture intimacy in this structured way? Or is that in opposition to how a genuine human relationship naturally develops?
Some philosophers contend that whenever it is practical, we have a moral obligation to foster intimacy using methods like these. Others argue that emotional manipulation ruins true connection and that you cannot shortcut genuine relating. On both sides, there are many compelling arguments.
Experts recommend seeking informed permission before using the 36 questions to ensure all parties are aware of what is involved. Preserving moral awareness about participant incentives, privacy, rivalry, and emotional safety.
One example of a mismatch is when someone asks the questions looking for romance but another only wants lighthearted fun. Being open and honest about intentions promotes better coordination.
One should use manufactured intimacy tactics with caution and intelligence to bring people together in a moral manner, rather than risking manipulative relationships or false intimacy.
Trying the 36 Questions Yourself
This leads to the question, what happens when real people today try out this exercise? I chose to test the 36 questions on myself with a close friend who volunteered as part of my study for this article. One evening, we scheduled two hours to complete the questionnaire and evaluate how we felt afterwards.
We went to a pub to simulate asking the questions on a first or second date to see if a spark would appear in order to keep the conditions similar to an initial date.
Since certain questions immediately venture into quite private scenery, the experience of asking the questions face-to-face at first felt a little odd. “What is your most terrible memory?” is quite the opener! We fumbled and laughed through the first dozen questions, loosening up over a couple of drinks.
Since we have been friends for a long time, I would not contend we discovered any startling new facts about one another, but talking about our concerns or revisiting childhood memories did spark some intriguing discussions.
Some questions seemed to be too unclear or shallow to truly address. And toward the end, question fatigue set in where we found ourselves rushing through just to complete the exercise.
For us, the deep stuff came more from laughing together throughout than from the questions themselves. Afterward, we felt closer because of the fun and quality time we had together, but we were not going to say we had “fallen in love.”
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FAQs: 36 questions to fall in love, does it work?
1. Where did the 36 questions come from originally?
Psychologist Arthur Aron developed the questions in 1997 as part of a study to test how intimacy forms between strangers. Mandy Len Catron then made them go viral in a 2015 New York Times article.
2. Do the questions really make people fall in love?
Scientific studies show the questions may temporarily create closeness, but they don’t reliably make people fall in lasting love. The intimacy is superficial.
3. Can the questions backfire or go wrong?
Trying the 36 questions has caused awkwardness or relationship damage for some couples.
4. What makes for true intimacy beyond a list of questions?
Lasting intimacy stems from empathy, validating partners’ vulnerabilities, sharing experiences over time, and individual growth. Effort matters more than questionnaires.
5. What ethical issues are involved with manufactured intimacy techniques?
When engineering artificial intimacy between people, it is important to consider consent, emotional safety, power imbalances, and privacy concerns
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The 36 questions gained popularity as a quick solution for developing intimate relationships. However, real intimacy is developed through deep emotional connections and vulnerability.
While exercises like the 36 questions can be useful, we should not give them supernatural abilities. Real relationships require battling conflicts and embracing the highs and lows of flawed individuals.
Creating meaningful connections requires treating one another with kindness, vulnerability, and respect for the uniqueness of every soul.