Last year, you probably remember reading about the 36 questions to fall in love.
These questions are drawn from a study performed by Dr. Arthur Aron more than 20 years ago, in which two strangers asked each other 36 questions in a lab setting over a 90-minute period.
The two ended up falling in love.
At the time I read the article, I remember thinking, "Eh, it may work, but it sounds pretty stupid."
Fast-forward almost a year later, and my current girlfriend and I are seeking to find ways to deepen our bond.
We're both at points in our lives where we don't want to mess around or waste anyone's time, so in true Millennial instant gratification style, we wanted to know immediately.
So, as we pondered cheesier things like reading to each other or writing each other poems, I remembered the 36 questions to ask to fall in love.
This time, I thought, "Eh, it may work and still sounds pretty stupid, but it can't hurt. Right?"
So, I pitched it to my girlfriend.
Her reaction was much the same as mine, as she's very open-minded and willing to try new things.
So, we bought a bottle of wine and got to asking.
I don't know how much Mandy Len Catron had to drink when she and her partner asked each other the questions (and maybe it was indeed the wine), but we only got through the first 12 questions in two hours.
It became very clear to me, as Catron explains, that these questions are designed to reveal things — secrets, dark memories, hidden desires — that we simply don't normally talk about.
They are things that people who are in love feel incredibly comfortable sharing with each other because, well, they're in love.
I heard myself saying things, listening and making expressions in ways I had not yet shown to my girlfriend.
I can only surmise she was doing the same.
By the time we finished the first set of 12 questions, it was 1 am and we both were pretty buzzed.
We decided to go to bed. We also decided to have sex first.
You're probably thinking, "Well, if you're answering the questions and having sex, of course you're going to fall in love!"
Yes, we probably — and hopefully, most likely — will.
That was the intention.
The next night, I got off work late again and came over with another bottle of wine and the second set of questions ready to go.
We took another two hours to answer them.
We found ourselves freely explaining details and backstories and commenting on our lives in ways we never had before.
We found ourselves uncomfortably explaining why we hadn't done things we wished we had.
We found ourselves giving each other encouragement and validation.
We found ourselves becoming inherently closer because that is human nature, and that is what these questions are designed to do.
Big surprise, right?
We again finished at 1 am, and again, we had sex before going to bed.
By the third night, we were actually looking forward to question time all day long.
We did not consume an entire bottle of wine this time (mostly because the previous two nights had left us somewhat exhausted), and we wanted to be sure that at least one of these sessions was completed halfway sober.
The required four minutes of staring into each other's eyes at the end was indeed as awkward as it sounds.
It's quite plainly just an unnatural thing to do, especially when you've just asked each other 36 questions designed to make you fall in love.
This time, the questions took three hours, and we went to bed at 2 am.
This time, we were too tired to have sex.
I remember feeling a sense of comfort, warmness and closeness to her that I had never felt before.
We both now knew things about each other that much of the world will never know.
We both held each other and drifted off to sleep with smiles on our faces.
It's been a few weeks since we asked each other the questions, and I don't know if we've fallen in love.
I think love may be much more complicated than 36 questions and four minutes of eye-staring, but maybe our programming at its base level is that simple.
I do know I find myself caring deeply about her and her emotional and physical well-being, and I have the urge to say, "I love you" many times when we part ways, get off the phone or kiss goodnight.
So, maybe I already am in love, and I don't even know it.
What I do know is that even if we don't fall in love, these questions can be used to build emotional bonds with anyone because, again, it's just human nature.
We bond with people when we know more about them and when we share common ideas, pleasures, fears, hopes and dreams.
We become closer with others when we compliment them and they compliment us.
These questions aren't just for falling in love; they're for getting to know someone.
So, next time you find yourself in the grocery checkout line or sitting in the doctor's office and waiting in awkward silence, why not turn to the person next to you and say, "If you could pick anyone in the world, who would you choose to have as a dinner guest?"
You never know; you might just fall in love.