Arthur Aron’s Theory Of Love

21 Jan


In a recent New York Times Modern Love column, Mandy Len Catron references psychologist Arthur Aron’s study on intimacy.  Aron examines whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a series of ever more personal questions.

The column was a bit of a sensation, and Aron’s 36 questions have been making the rounds of the internet.

Naturally, I made Rob participate in the study on our drive to San Diego.

“All right,” I said, feet on the dashboard, “First question.  Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?”

“Pass,” he said.

“That’s not how this works.  Take a moment think about it,” I said.

“Who would you have?” he asked.

“That’s not the point, is it?  I asked you first,” I said.

“Ahhh so you don’t know either,” he said.

“Of course I have plenty of people I would love to sit down with, minds I would simply die to pick,” I said.

“Uh-huh,” he said.  “Like whom?”

“Well…you know…oh! Oprah!” I blurted.  “Maybe JK Rowling, ask her some questions.”

“Yeah? What questions about the Harry Potter series are burning in your brain right now?”

“Well, I don’t know.  I want to find out the secrets.  Where are the other bombs she’s been hiding?  I’m sure there are things.”

“Uh-huh,” he said.

“I’m more concerned that you don’t have a single person in the world you would want to have dinner with.  No writers?  No heroes?”  I asked.

“Next question,” he said.

“TOM BRADY!” I yelled.  That’s it!  That’s who you would want dinner with.”

“RONDO!” he said.  “We would play Connect Four.  He’s really into Connect Four.”

“Is is sad that I have to answer your questions about intimacy?  What did you do before me?  Did you have no idea who you were?” I asked.

“Something like that,” he said.

We both sat back, a little exhausted from the strain of our increased intimacy.

“OK so, Question 2,” I said, “Would you like to be famous.  In what way?”

We got through most of the list fairly quickly.  Some of the questions were redundant, some were not worth the time when you’ve known each other as long as we have.  “Tell your life story in four minutes,” for instance, just seemed like a lot of effort with no reward.

“Pass,” we said in unison, when it came up.

When we finished the list, Rob asked, “Are you feeling more intimate now?” and I rolled my eyes at him.

Later, Hilary sent me this New Yorker article: To Fall Out Of Love, Do This.  It’s a spoof on Aron’s study and begins with, “The following questions are part of a follow-up study to see whether the intimacy between two committed partners can be broken down by forcing them to ask each other thirty-six questions no one in a relationship should actually ask.”

I sent the article to Rob and we both had a good laugh.

Interestingly, Rob and I both answered the first question of the spoof study without even having to think twice, “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you like to punch in the face?”

The spoof list, it seems, is easier to answer.

Or maybe we’re an especially odd couple.

The 36 questions that lead to love!  Try it!

(Try it when you don’t know someone, maybe.)

(Or not, that has a bit of charm, too.)

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