Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ask Me Anything

I was not the only one who found Mandy Len Catron's "To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This" intriguing; this piece became so popular that CBS News picked it up.

A psychologist by the name of Arthur Aron composed a list of 36 questions, starting from the innocuous to the prying, all calculated. The last exercise was to look into the other's eyes for four solid minutes. The intention was to see if two strangers would thereby fall in love. The study couple did.
Catron and her date for the evening, a co-worker, decided to give it a shot. And it worked. 

She does not claim that this method is foolproof; to just try it to begin with, both sides have to be open-minded, for starters. Plus, she adds, one cannot discount chemistry. However: 
Most of us think about love as something that happens to us. We fall. We get crushed.
But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him.
I wondered what would come of our interaction. If nothing else, I thought it would make a good story. But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.
It’s true you can’t choose who loves you, although I’ve spent years hoping otherwise, and you can’t create romantic feelings based on convenience alone. Science tells us biology matters; our pheromones and hormones do a lot of work behind the scenes.
But despite all this, I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible — simple, even — to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive. 
I have always believed myself that love is a choice. There is infatuation, yes, but that is not the same thing as love. 

Love is vulnerability. Friendship is vulnerability. And I have experienced, as BrenĂ© Brown would call it, "the vulnerability hangover." 

Connection is about revealing our usually secret thoughts, beliefs, and hopes to another person, who will, in turn, reveal their own secret thoughts, beliefs, and hopes, and both sides will accept each other for what they are. But I made the mistake in childhood in over-sharing, too soon, in the hope of forcing connection. 

I feel the same way about dating; some of those 36 questions I feel are too prying for the first two hours with someone new. Before I puke up my emotional guts, can I at least make sure that you won't laugh at me, or find me weird? Fourth date, maybe fifth?    

I took a gander at the questions; a number of them are unattainable hypotheticals, and I hate hypotheticals, since (a) they can never happen and (b) people think one thing, how they actually act in such a situation is another. I don't find such queries to result in anything edifying.

But looking into the other's eyes for four solid minutes . . . that is the hardest thing of all, I think. That is a strong, frightening test of vulnerability. We would rather do anything other than that. Our relationships are so shallow today, so distracted, as we fear letting others in, ashamed of what's there. 
Banksey, "Mobile Lovers"
Don't blink. 


TooYoungToTeach said...

Just read the article and then the questions, FACINATING!

I think it could work, if people were brave enough...you sure you're not up to being a guinea pig? You could revolutionize the shidduch crisis ;)

FrumGeek said...

Don't blink. Blink and you're dead. The angels have the phone box.

Princess Lea said...

TYTT: The letters to the editor regarding the article had a few naysayers, those that claimed they did it with friends and they are still friends.

Me? No way. It really also depends on the sort of person one does it with: for the scoffer, there are no answers.

FG: Ah, you're a Whovian. I had to google that reference, shame-face.