36 questions to (again) fall in love
Psychology

36 questions to (again) fall in love

This magic-like exercise is hard to take seriously. But the questionnaire, developed many years ago by American psychologist Arthur Aron, can really (re)ignite hearts in less than an hour! Try it and see for yourself.

The New York Times once published the testimony of Mandy Len Catron. She recounted how she fell in love within hours with a fellow faculty member she had chosen as a guinea pig while answering questions with him by American psychologist Arthur Aron. If Mandy Len Catron and her partner were already in love with each other, neither of them realized it until they reached question 36 and fell silent for four long minutes. Like many discoveries, the “questionnaire that can make you fall in love” is the fruit of a happy accident.

In 1997, Arthur Aron, a professor at Stony Brook University (USA), researched close relationships. He came up with an exercise that forces two strangers to get close. The result exceeded all expectations. One of the “test” pairs of students got married six months later. She was the first in a long line of lovers.

36 questions to (again) fall in love

Seeing with new eyes

Arthur Aron realized that he had partially solved the mystery of love: vulnerability and intimate confessions create an environment in which the flame of feelings easily ignites. But with one caveat: the questionnaire evokes love only in those who have already chosen each other, consciously or not. This is not surprising, the unconscious of the two recognizes and chooses each other; it remains to give the desire a chance to turn into feeling.

In the course of the experiments it became clear that the questionnaire can “bring together” not only lovers, but also friends. Since the publication of the article in The New York Times, the evidence is growing. Stories of love, friendship, reconciliation… there are so many that Mandy Len Catron is preparing a book on the subject, The Love Story Project. Intrigued, we asked psychoanalyst Sophie Cadalen, author of Love Without Instructions, a specialist in couple relationships, to share her perspective with us.

“I was puzzled,” she admits, “because there were few questions I could answer quickly. Giving short answers proved difficult. The strength of this exercise is probably that it throws us off-balance. It makes us hesitate, doubt, choose… But what defines us as a person is more about questions than answers. The questionnaire allows us to catch the moment when we are especially close to the present.

36 questions to (again) fall in love

Find your vulnerability

According to the psychoanalyst, intimacy here is not created by the exchange of intimate confessions, but rather by the two exposing their weakness. “That’s why,” she continues, “this questionnaire is also effective for already established couples. Over time, we come to believe that we know each other perfectly well, and that kills the feeling of love.

The questions are interesting because they make us notice strange and unfamiliar sides of the other again, when we are surprised by his answers, his pauses, his emotions. They put us in a situation of insecurity, and it is this detachment that makes us desirable and awakens desire in ourselves.” Sophie Cadalen, like Mandy Len Catron, explains that this exercise only awakens a dormant or unconscious love feeling, not creates it. Fortunately for us, love has not yet been learned to be produced in laboratories.

36 questions to (again) fall in love

HOW TO CONDUCT A DEBRIEFING

Allocate about an hour in a quiet place. Answer the questions one at a time. Speak with an open mind, don’t take notes, don’t comment on your partner’s answers. Be as sincere as possible. From the first to the third part of the questionnaire, the degree of intimacy increases; you can pause between parts. At the end, look each other in the eyes for four minutes.

Series #1

  1. If you could invite someone to dinner (a loved one, a deceased relative, a celebrity), who would you choose?
  2. would you want to be famous? In what way?
  3. Before you make the call, do you happen to rehearse your line? Why?
  4. What would be an “ideal day” for you?
  5. When was the last time you sang alone? And for someone else?
  6. If you could live to be 90 years old and retain either the mind or body of a 30 year old in your last 60 years, which would you choose?
  7. Do you have a secret premonition of how you will die?
  8. Name three traits that you think both you and your partner have.
  9. What do you feel most grateful for?
  10. If you could, what would you change about the way you were raised?
  11. In 4 minutes, tell your partner your life story in as much detail as you can.
  12. if you could wake up tomorrow with some skill or ability, what would it be?

Series #2

  1. If a magic crystal could reveal the truth to you, what would you want to know?
  2. Is there something you’ve wanted to do for a long time? Why haven’t you done it yet?
  3. What is the greatest achievement of your life?
  4. What is the most valuable thing about friendship for you?
  5. What is your most treasured memory?
  6. What is your worst memory?
  7. If you knew you were going to die in a year, what would you change about the way you live your life? Why?
  8. What does friendship mean to you?
  9. What role do love and tenderness play in your life?
  10. Take turns naming your partner their positive traits (exchange five characteristics).
  11. Are the relationships in your family warm and close?
  12. What feelings do you have about your interaction with your mother?

Series #3

  1. Make up three statements each that are true for both of you. For example, “We both feel…”
  2. Continue the phrase, “I wish there was someone to share…”
  3. If you were going to be a close friend to your partner, what would you tell him: what do you think he should know about you?
  4. Tell your partner what you like about him or her; be direct, say things you wouldn’t say to a casual acquaintance.
  5. Share with your partner an uncomfortable situation or embarrassing moment from your life.
  6. When was the last time you cried in front of someone? When you were alone?
  7. Tell your partner what you already value in him or her.
  8. What topic do you think is too serious to joke about?
  9. If you were to die today before the end of the day without talking to anyone, what unspeakable thing would you regret the most? Why haven’t you said it yet?
  10. Your house with all your possessions caught fire. After saving your loved ones as well as your pets, you have time to run into the house and save something else from the flames. What would you take? Why?
  11. The death of which member of your family would upset you the most? Why?
  12. Share a personal problem and ask your partner how they would handle it. Then ask how he or she feels about your feelings about the problem.