To Fall Out of Love, Do This
BY SUSANNA WOLFF
CREDITILLUSTRATION BY GARY TAXALI
In Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” she refers to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.
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.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you like to punch in the face?
2. On average, how long do you spend composing tweets before you post them? Do you realize that they don’t matter?
3. Before responding to a text, do you wait a few minutes to make it seem like you’re doing something more important? Why? Answer me now.
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? Why do we always just go home and watch Netflix instead of doing any of that stuff?
5. What’s your favorite song? No, it’s not. I’ve never once heard you listen to that song.
6. Honestly, which one of us would you rather have die first?
7. So you want me to be the one who becomes a burden to our children and then dies alone?
8. Name three things you find irritating about your partner.
9. Why do we even have a dishwasher if you insist on thoroughly scrubbing the dishes before putting them in? O.K., fine, I’m adding your dishwasher issue to my list of irritating things, too. So there.
10. If you could change anything about your partner’s family, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible. I already know that story. And I was there for that one. It didn’t happen like that.
12. Why did you send me a link to this Times article if you didn’t want us to go through the questions together?
13. Between you and your partner, who is the better gift-giver?
14. No, I did like that jacket, but I specifically asked for it, so it doesn’t really count as a gift that you thought of, and, you know, “it’s the thought that counts.”
15. Ha ha. Fine. You can be the better gift-giver. Happy? Next question.
16. What is your most treasured memory? I was there for that one. It definitelydidn’t happen like that.
17. What is your most horrible memory? No, “Right now, answering these questions” doesn’t count.
18. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time but haven’t done because you know your partner wouldn’t like it?
19. Don’t pin that on me. You know we don’t have to do everything together, right?
20. What do you want to do for dinner?
21. If you knew we were getting dinner tonight, why would you eat a cupcake at five? All I’ve had to eat today is a cup of soup and, like, eight almonds.
22. Take turns going to the bathroom with nothing but a thin, not at all soundproof door separating you from your partner. Just sit there and hear it all.
23. What do you want to watch tonight?
24. Are you going to fall asleep in the middle of the episode again?
25. I’m not the one making us answer these questions. Do you want to stop?
26. Do you not think our relationship is strong enough to handle these questions?
27. How do you feel about your partner’s relationship with his or her mother?
28. Oh, like your mother is so much better?
29. Share a tube of toothpaste with your partner.
30. Why are you not squeezing from the bottom? Are you a monster?
31. Tell your partner which celebrities you find attractive.
32. Why do none of those celebrities look anything like me?
33. Rent a car with your partner and drive while he or she gives directions.
34. How am I supposed to get across four lanes in two seconds? You have to tell me the exit earlier.
35. Tell your partner something that you like about him or her. Try to think of something. Anything.
36. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you like to punch in the face? ♦