Can 36 Questions Help Couples Spark True Love?

The media has been abuzz lately over a scientific study involving a 36 question “sharing game” for couples. Some have touted the “game” as a way to trigger a love connection between two people in a very short amount of time. But, is that really possible? Can 36 questions help couples spark true love? With so many people thinking about Valentine’s Day and love, I needed to check this out.

It turns out the actual focus of the study, conducted by social psychologist Arthur Aron and published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, was on building interpersonal closeness. The study premise was that by answering a set of questions scientifically designed for sharing specific details about each other, a couple could very quickly create a sense of “closeness” even if they had just met for the first time. An application to speed dating, blind dates, and first-time, face-to-face encounters with an on-line dating match quickly came to mind. So, could you get someone to fall for you just by asking and answering a set of specific questions? I was intrigued, but not yet convinced.

How About Those 36 Questions?

The 36 questions study participants were required to ask each other were interesting, to say the least. They ran the gamut…

From the innocent:

#4 What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

 To the creepy:

#7 Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

 To the insightful:

#10 If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

 To even the uncomfortable:

#30 When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

While sharing answers to these questions may reveal a lot about another person that would normally take a much longer time to uncover, feeling “close” to someone could hardly be called a declaration of love.

Getting Close Doesn’t Equate to Love

In fact, the actual study results never talk about love and even state that the “closeness” experienced is just “similar” to the kind of real closeness that develops naturally in relationships over a period of time. In other words, what is experienced in the study only mimics a feeling of emotional chemistry between two people. While we know two people can experience physical chemistry almost instantaneously, emotional chemistry – the kind that produces loyalty and commitment – still takes time.

And yet, there does seem to be something to this sharing of personal information. It turns out that couples who meet on-line and marry, do so after a shorter courtship – 18 months on average – as compared to 36 months for couples who marry after meeting and dating through more traditional means. It seems that the sharing of “vital stats,” answering the lengthy dating-site questionnaires, and social media correspondence prior to meeting face-to-face creates connections that in turn, cut short the getting to know each other period of courtship. So, could there really be something to a set of revealing questions and the initiating of love?

Sadly, I’m not sure we can make that connection. Because, while the on-line daters who marry may have shorter courtships, the number of couples who meet on-line and go on to get married is actually quite low, statistically. It appears there is no substitute for face-to-face courtship.

How to Really Build Emotional Connection in a Relationship

So what is the take away here? Can playing a game of 36 questions really help you make a love connection with someone? I think the answer is ‘NO!’ But the study does tell us that communication and sharing, verbally, our thoughts, fears, desires, and dreams at a deep level can help us connect sooner in a relationship – or it could quickly send the other person running!

When it comes to romantic relationships, here is my advice on sharing and building an emotional love connection:

  • Sharing at a deeper level builds emotional chemistry and helps to bond two people together. So, share, yes, but not too much too quickly. It should be like pealing an onion, slowly, over time.
  • Get a guy to share beyond the basic facts and stats. The goal is to get him talking about his feelings, dreams, and desires. So, start with something easy for him. For example: If you met on-line, and he stated that his hobby was sailing, then ask questions to dig deeper. Ask him things like how old he was when he learned, who taught him, and what was it that drew him to sailing. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot more about him than just a sailing lesson.
  • When it comes to your past and any emotional wounds or tragedies, be careful what and how much you share. If you reveal the fact that you still haven’t gotten over the loss of your cat (who died two years ago), you could make a guy nervous. He might fear how you’d react if the two of you dated and it didn’t work out. Visions of “Fatal Attraction” pop in his head.
  • Actions speak louder than words. Regardless of what a guy says, it’s what he does that really counts. The guy who will walk your dog in the rain because you have a cold is the real Keeper!
  • In time, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. You want to make sure your core values align with those of your prospective mate. You don’t want to wait until you’re engaged to find out that he doesn’t really like kids and having children is a top priority for you!

In the end, good communication and emotional chemistry are essential to a healthy relationship. And, if the spark is there between two people (physical chemistry), sharing at a deeper level could very well help to ignite the flames and get the love fire burning. But real love takes time and no set of questions can make two people fall in love, no matter how revealing the questions and answers happen to be.

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