More than swiping right: How these 36 questions can result in love between strangers
Efficiency is a wonderful thing. By streamlining a process we can make something quicker, easier and more effective. Why wait in the rain to grab a cab when you can call an Uber? Or, why physically attend a class when you can just Skype yourself into the room? But our desire to make things quicker can sometimes remove the crucial element of quality, which is necessary for certain aspects of our lives. Most notably in our relationships.
A prodigious number of dating apps and Tinder knock-offs now give us an almost unlimited catalog of nearby individuals presented as potential mates. Yet our relationships, whether romantic or platonic, are built on something so much more important than a few selfies and a short bio. True relationships are built on intimacy and openness, which are precisely the two characteristics that many modern dating apps often lack. This is most clearly demonstrated through a study by the famous Psychologist Arthur Aron.
The experiment sees two strangers answer 36 questions (all 36 questions can be found at the bottom of the page), which are then followed by 4 minutes of staring into each others’ eyes. While this may sound like an excruciatingly awkward task to perform with a stranger, it has produced some incredibly interesting results. For example, one reporter from The New York Times previously conducted the experiment with two strangers, and within six months the two “test subjects” were husband and wife.
Evidently, these questions can have an incredible impact. But why? According to the researchers of the original experiment “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Letting your guard down and exposing these vulnerabilities to another person can be tough. Consequently, these questions are designed to trigger this feeling of exposure, and allow the two individuals to open up.
On the other hand, dating apps such as Tinder do the very opposite. They allow people to showcase their best self, through a small selection of picture and a very short self-description. And thanks to an abundance of brief profiles in any given city, we are often exposed to quantity over quality when it comes to partners. This results in an approach which is more akin to “Throw enough mud at the wall, some of it will stick.” Moreover, evidence suggests that quantity of interactions over quality can impact our psychology, often leading to amplified feelings of loneliness.
These thoughts were echoed by Ashley Uzer, a writer for Galore who stated “Using a dating app can sometimes lead us to the delusion that we’ll eventually match with someone who just gets us. The truth is, we are all complex individuals that are not going to be understood by some cute guy just because he read our dating profile and knows that we “love sushi and SoulCycle.” Whether you meet somebody online or in person, he’s not going to morph into your soulmate overnight.”
While some dating apps might place a greater emphasis on quantity, there are still plenty striving to make meaningful encounters out of our matches. One of which is Invite and Meet, a matchmaking app where people invite each other to share a real-world activity of mutual interest.
“Romantic sparks almost never happen when we are distant. Instead, it is important to get to know one another outside of occasional messages which bounce back and forth with very little energy. That is the whole idea behind Invite and Meet, where people invite each other to share real-world activities of mutual interest. Allowing them to bond and grow closer in a stress-free setting, sharing an activity they both enjoy,” said Alexandre Lang-Willar, Co-founder of Invite and Meet.
Ultimately, we must understand that no matter how much we try and simplify our lives through quicker processes or more efficient methods, as a society we must never forget that true relationships require a deep level of intimacy with one another, something that often takes time. Unless of course, you are taking part in a psychology experiment designed to speed up this process.
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.