One brave singleton experiments in the name of investigating an allegedly foolproof formula
Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays I tend to avoid. Having worked for a gift card retailer, I know firsthand that there is nothing especially special about February 14. Regardless of this fact, every year I feel a little guilty for being single on a day reserved for couples.
This year, something odd happened: a psychological study led by Dr. Arthur Aron caught my eye. According to an article in The Telegraph on Jan. 20, there exists a set of 36 questions which will supposedly make any two people fall in love.
Questions range from describing your perfect type of day, to revealing which family member’s death would be the most jarring.
According to Dr. Aron, as reported by The Telegraph, the love quiz was designed to test if “it’s possible to make two people fall in love by getting them to share intimate thoughts and memories.”
With my intellectual curiosity piqued, I downloaded the questions and set out to see if it was too good to be true.
But who to do this with?
Two weeks ago I sat down with Stephanie and Patrick*, individually, to take the test. Both individuals were single acquaintances I met through friends. We knew enough of each other to be comfortable talking to one another but not enough to say we knew the other.
Since this quiz would supposedly make anyone fall in love, I decided to add another element: sexual orientation. Stephanie identifies as a bisexual woman, Patrick as a heterosexual man, and I am a lesbian. Should the quiz be successful I would be attracted to Pat, or at least feel significantly closer to him.
Once everyone was brought up to speed with exactly what the quiz was and what could happen, all we had to do was set a date. With both Steph and Pat, I was able to find quiet relaxed venues where we could chat and drink, if needed.
I spent an evening with each partner separately, with no technology allowed. Everyone was relaxed and seemed to be having a good time. The low point of the evenings, ironically, was the quiz itself.
In both cases, the act of going back to the questions felt very awkward and broke the flow of conversation. Many times we would find ourselves wandering away from the quiz only for one of us to remember what we were supposed to be doing.
Patrick was very good at this, and often stopped us when we spent too long answering a single question. As a result, we were able to go through all 36 questions in about two hours.
On the other hand, neither Stephanie nor I was able to reroute our conversation for very long. Although we only answered 10 questions together, what was memorable from that evening were the conversations that we were not supposed to be having.
In both conversations the questions around death and family became really awkward. There seems to be no good way to ask someone, “do you have a hunch about how you will die?” in a quiet tea house or restaurant. Maybe it would be better received in a pub or bar atmosphere where more alcohol is involved.
Don’t take this quiz if you have ANY problems with your genetic family. Near the end of the quiz it feels like every second question has to do with your family. I am estranged from my family, and having to constantly refer to this when answering questions became quite heavy over time. Luckily my partners were very accepting of this fact.
After the dates were done, we chatted about what worked and what didn’t about the whole experience.
What was the take away?
Although everyone reported having fun, none of us felt like it was because of the quiz itself. Both Stephanie and Patrick mentioned that they had fun hanging out more than forcing our conversation into a question-and-answer format. As Pat said, “the test was not for us.”
The test functions by asking very general questions at first and then gradually asking more intimate ones over time. Stephanie noted that this is what people naturally do when they first meet.
“People start by asking simple questions, as an icebreaker, ‘what’s your favorite color?’ then slowly going deeper and deeper. Then you slowly ease them into more personal questions,” she said. This may be a useful model for people who are socially challenged and do not know how to engage in this type of gradually more intimate conversation.
It is also made for those who want to fall in love. Upon reflection, I can’t say I know more about either of my partners than before we began.
According to Patrick, “we now have a lot of theory and knowledge and not much experience.” I agree with his sentiment—I know more information thanks to the quiz, but do not know how Patrick or Stephanie would act in a situation.
Whether friends or romantic partners, these types of close relationships are built over time and through shared experiences.
In the end
I spoke with both Stephanie and Patrick (who preferred to have their family names omitted) late last week for their final thoughts on the subject. All of us agreed that we were closer now than when we first sat down, but not necessarily because of the test.
We would probably have all been friends given the chance to chat casually at a friend’s house or party, too.
And I’m still single, but I do have a date for Valentine’s Day.
On Saturday, I plan to buy wine, make a fancy dinner, and curl up on the couch to watch a cute movie with the most important person in my life—me.
To find out more about the questionnaire, or to see how to take the test yourself go to: http://bit.ly/how-to-fall-in-love