The NY Times article “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This” has been making the rounds on social media with the “Do This” referring to asking each other increasingly deeper more personal questions and then staring into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes. It’s based on a psychology study where researchers were trying to come up with a closeness-generating paradigm. Here’s a list of the questions (from here):
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.
In order to develop a close personal relationship (romantic or friendship even) you must be vulnerable to other people and answering these questions that might have taken you years to get to pushes the fast forward button on that process.
I’m one of those girls that gets told often that I have some serious walls up. About two years ago I tried to figure out how exactly to tear them down the same way I find out how to do a glitter cut crease- by turning to the internet for research. The short answer is you must be vulnerable and let your true self be seen. “Just be yourself!” Ah seems so easy… but myself is a girl that tries to make everything seem perfect. How can someone love me with all of my flaws and insecurities on display when they can’t even love my “most perfect” self? That’s why I love articles and exercises like this because it forces vulnerability that I haven’t figured out how to naturally express yet. I’m still terrified of even trying something like this because I find vulnerability excruciating, but with this list of directions I at least have a map to get me there. Maybe that should be my answer next time someone asks me why I’m single I’ll just deadpan “because I find vulnerability excruciating.”
If you feel my pain I highly recommend watching this TED talk about The power of vulnerability by Dr. Brene Brown who I LOVE and seriously identify with.
So will answering these questions make you closer to someone? Sure, but as the original research article states “it seems unlikely that the procedure produces loyalty, dependence, commitment, or other relationship aspects that might take longer to develop.” Will it trick someone into falling in love with you? No, but long term effects of this exercise are not known at this time ;). If I end up trying it I’ll make a post letting you know how it goes.
If you’re dating someone or in a relationship and decide to do this exercise please comment and let me know how it goes!! Just a note- the participants didn’t feel as close if one of their partners was distracted so you really have to be willing to spend about 90 minutes giving each other your full attention. And don’t forget to stare into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes at the end. Good luck.