Can you imagine sitting down with a stranger, asking each other 36 questions, staring into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes, and BAM falling in love? Well, according to researcher Arthur Aron, this happened in his lab 20 years ago when he conducted this study.
I came across this information a few weeks ago while listening to a podcast called Modern Love. If you haven’t heard of it, the show features notable public figures reading essays from the New York Times and reflecting on the work, and even features follow-up interviews with the authors themselves. I was fascinated by this episode, and being a person that is highly invested in relationship building, I couldn’t help but to further investigate!
The neuroscience behind love is not a new topic by any means. For some time we’ve known that our brain itself changes throughout the course of falling and being in love. Researchers like Sue Johnson have expanded love-science into the realm of attachment bond research, as well. So what prompted the study?
Aron himself fell in love, sparking his interest as a psychologist to further understand how this fascinating phenomenon works. In interviews he’s explained, “relationship quality is the biggest predictor of human happiness more than wealth or success…[even] how long we’ll live is predicted more strongly by your relationship quality than by smoking or obesity.”
I’m not sure answering these 36 questions with your partner means you can hit the drive-thru every day. But asking, and the vulnerability in answering the questions, could certainly spark a connection and increase feelings of closeness. The procedure involves taking turns asking and answering each of the 36 questions, which gradually get more and more personal as they go on. After the questions are done, you’re supposed to stare into the other person’s eyes for 4 minutes. Whether you’re in a new relationship, or looking to reconnect after some time, engaging in an activity like this certainly couldn’t hurt!
The questions themselves are listed here, but I prefer this interactive website, which walks you through each question in succession. Do yourself a favor and don’t peek or read ahead! The more genuine and unrehearsed your responses, the more intentional your presence, the better!