To Fall in Love with Anyone | Mandy Len Catron | TEDxChapmanU

Translator: Joseph Geni
Reviewer: Ivana Korom I published this article in the New York Times Modern Love column
in January of this year. “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This.” And the article
is about a psychological study designed to create romantic love
in the laboratory, and my own experience
trying the study myself one night last summer. So the procedure is fairly simple: two strangers take turns asking each other
36 increasingly personal questions and then they stare into each other’s eyes without speaking for four minutes. So here are a couple of sample questions. Number 12: If you could wake up tomorrow
having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? Number 28: When did you last cry
in front of another person? By yourself? As you can see, they really do
get more personal as they go along. Number 30, I really like this one: Tell your partner
what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things you might not say
to someone you just met. So when I first came across this study
a few years earlier, one detail really stuck out to me, and that was the rumor
that two of the participants had gotten married six months later, and they’d invited the entire lab
to the ceremony. So I was of course very skeptical about this process of just
manufacturing romantic love, but of course I was intrigued. And when I got the chance
to try this study myself, with someone I knew
but not particularly well, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love. But then we did, and — (Laughter) And I thought it made a good story,
so I sent it to the Modern Love column a few months later. Now, this was published in January, and now it is August, so I’m guessing that some of you
are probably wondering, are we still together? And the reason I think
you might be wondering this is because I have been asked this question again and again and again
for the past seven months. And this question is really
what I want to talk about today. But let’s come back to it. (Laughter) So the week before the article came out, I was very nervous. I had been working
on a book about love stories for the past few years, so I had gotten used to writing
about my own experiences with romantic love on my blog. But a blog post might get
a couple hundred views at the most, and those were usually
just my Facebook friends, and I figured my article
in the New York Times would probably get a few thousand views. And that felt like a lot of attention on a relatively new relationship. But as it turned out, I had no idea. So the article was published online on a Friday evening, and by Saturday, this had happened
to the traffic on my blog. And by Sunday, both the Today Show
and Good Morning America had called. Within a month, the article
would receive over 8 million views, and I was, to say the least, underprepared for this sort of attention. It’s one thing to work up
the confidence to write honestly about your experiences with love, but it is another thing to discover that your love life
has made international news — (Laughter) and to realize
that people across the world are genuinely invested
in the status of your new relationship. (Laughter) And when people called or emailed,
which they did every day for weeks, they always asked the same question first: are you guys still together? In fact, as I was preparing this talk, I did a quick search of my email inbox for the phrase “Are you still together?” and several messages
popped up immediately. They were from students and journalists and friendly strangers like this one. I did radio interviews and they asked. I even gave a talk, and one woman
shouted up to the stage, “Hey Mandy, where’s your boyfriend?” And I promptly turned bright red. I understand that this
is part of the deal. If you write about your relationship
in an international newspaper, you should expect people
to feel comfortable asking about it. But I just wasn’t prepared
for the scope of the response. The 36 questions seem
to have taken on a life of their own. In fact, the New York Times
published a follow-up article for Valentine’s Day, which featured readers’ experiences
of trying the study themselves, with varying degrees of success. So my first impulse
in the face of all of this attention was to become very protective
of my own relationship. I said no to every request
for the two of us to do a media appearance together. I turned down TV interviews, and I said no to every request
for photos of the two us. I think I was afraid that we would become inadvertent icons
for the process of falling in love, a position I did not at all
feel qualified for. And I get it: people didn’t just want to know
if the study worked, they wanted to know if it really worked: that is, if it was capable
of producing love that would last, not just a fling, but real love,
sustainable love. But this was a question
I didn’t feel capable of answering. My own relationship
was only a few months old, and I felt like people were asking
the wrong question in the first place. What would knowing whether or not
we were still together really tell them? If the answer was no, would it make the experience
of doing these 36 questions any less worthwhile? Dr. Arthur Aron first wrote
about these questions in this study here in 1997, and here, the researcher’s goal
was not to produce romantic love. Instead, they wanted to foster interpersonal closeness
among college students, by using what Aron called “sustained, escalating, reciprocal,
personalistic self-disclosure.” Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? But the study did work. The participants
did feel closer after doing it, and several subsequent studies have also
used Aron’s fast friends protocol as a way to quickly create
trust and intimacy between strangers. They’ve used it between members
of the police and members of community, and they’ve used it between people
of opposing political ideologies. The original version of the story, the one that I tried last summer, that pairs the personal questions
with four minutes of eye contact, was referenced in this article, but unfortunately it was never published. So a few months ago, I was giving a talk at a small liberal arts college, and a student came up to me afterwards and he said, kind of shyly, “So, I tried your study,
and it didn’t work.” He seemed a little mystified by this. “You mean, you didn’t fall in love
with the person you did it with?” I asked. “Well…” He paused. “I think she just wants to be friends.” “But did you become
better friends?” I asked. “Did you feel like you got to really
know each other after doing the study?” He nodded. “So, then it worked,” I said. I don’t think this is the answer
he was looking for. In fact, I don’t think this is the answer
that any of us are looking for when it comes to love. I first came across this study when I was 29 and I was going through
a really difficult breakup. I had been in the relationship
since I was 20, which was basically my entire adult life, and he was my first real love, and I had no idea how or if
I could make a life without him. So I turned to science. I researched everything I could find
about the science of romantic love, and I think I was hoping that it might
somehow inoculate me from heartache. I don’t know if I realized
this at the time — I thought I was just doing research
for this book I was writing — but it seems really obvious in retrospect. I hoped that if I armed myself
with the knowledge of romantic love, I might never have to feel
as terrible and lonely as I did then. And all this knowledge
has been useful in some ways. I am more patient with love.
I am more relaxed. I am more confident
about asking for what I want. But I can also see myself more clearly, and I can see that what I want
is sometimes more than can reasonably be asked for. What I want from love is a guarantee, not just that I am loved today and that I will be loved tomorrow, but that I will continue to be loved
by the person I love indefinitely. Maybe it’s this possibility of a guarantee that people were really asking about when they wanted to know
if we were still together. So the story that the media told
about the 36 questions was that there might be
a shortcut to falling in love. There might be a way to somehow
mitigate some of the risk involved, and this is a very appealing story, because falling in love feels amazing, but it’s also terrifying. The moment you admit to loving someone, you admit to having a lot to lose, and it’s true that these questions
do provide a mechanism for getting to know someone quickly, which is also a mechanism for being known, and I think this is the thing
that most of us really want from love: to be known, to be seen, to be understood. But I think when it comes to love, we are too willing to accept
the short version of the story. The version of the story that asks,
“Are you still together?” and is content with a yes or no answer. So rather than that question, I would propose we ask
some more difficult questions, questions like: How do you decide who deserves your love and who does not? How do you stay in love
when things get difficult, and how do you know
when to just cut and run? How do you live with the doubt that inevitably creeps
into every relationship, or even harder, how do you live with your partner’s doubt? I don’t necessarily know
the answers to these questions, but I think they’re an important start
at having a more thoughtful conversation about what it means to love someone. So, if you want it, the short version of the story
of my relationship is this: a year ago, an acquaintance
and I did a study designed to create romantic love, and we fell in love, and we are still together, and I am so glad. But falling in love is not
the same thing as staying in love. Falling in love is the easy part. So at the end of my article, I wrote,
“Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each
made the choice to be.” And I cringe a little
when I read that now, not because it isn’t true, but because at the time,
I really hadn’t considered everything that was contained
in that choice. I didn’t consider how many times
we would each have to make that choice, and how many times I will continue
to have to make that choice without knowing whether or not
he will always choose me. I want it to be enough to have asked
and answered 36 questions, and to have chosen to love someone
so generous and kind and fun and to have broadcast that choice
in the biggest newspaper in America. But what I have done instead
is turn my relationship into the kind of myth
I don’t quite believe in. And what I want, what perhaps
I will spend my life wanting, is for that myth to be true. I want the happy ending
implied by the title to my article, which is, incidentally, the only part of the article
that I didn’t actually write. (Laughter) But what I have instead is the chance
to make the choice to love someone, and the hope that he will choose
to love me back, and it is terrifying, but that’s the deal with love. Thank you.

86 thoughts on “To Fall in Love with Anyone | Mandy Len Catron | TEDxChapmanU

  1. Here is the article:

  2. I would say, it is the collaborative action, in her case, the process of designing this experiment with her partner, surpassed the academic 36-question trial.

  3. It sounds interesting, but the only real, lasting and true love you will ever find in your life is the love you have for yourself.

  4. The problem these days isn't falling in love, it's staying committed, love aside.
    I've given up believing anyone will ever love me that much.

  5. I tried it with my crush and it turns out we already liked each other so my results are inconclusive

  6. this is what happened to me im 29 an was with my man sense I was 23 its very hard being apart ;(

  7. I had to watch this because I feel like I fall in love really easily.

  8. It sounds like what the 36 questions really create is a situation where people are engaged in Active Listening which seems to be the most consistently suggested "strategy" for attaining intimacy, popularity, charisma and even love…

  9. This doesn't cover physical attraction. Anyone can fall in love with anyone if they get to know them on an intimate level of knowing so much about them and exchanging each other's personal thoughts, beliefs, and experiences in life. In other words I believe that there are two types of love; lust that turns to love and love that you slowly gain from learning about someone and sharing you life with. Anyone can be in love! Which one is the love you have or want?

  10. this "talk" by this boring woman put me to sleep…and the whole study is a pathetic joke that has become what they call "social science" today….

  11. Due to the counterintuitive nature of statistics and probabilities I'm not sure people will ever truly accept Psychology. They'd rather hear anecdotes or opinions that fit inside of what their biases and expectations deem acceptable.

  12. This video showed up in my suggested list and sounded intriguing, but after watching the first few minutes I had to pause the video and read the article the speaker is discussing. Gotta admit I was choked up after finishing the article, and after going back and finishing the video felt truly appreciative for the sincerity of the speaker in how she concluded the talk. Really compelling whether or not you consider yourself a hopeless romantic 🙂

  13. Anyone else think about The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon? This is the infamous study, I didn't even look for it. I read the book around a week ago.

  14. I did this with my BF. While we are very much in love i would not attribute these questions to adding to it – they only helped us see what else we have in common / actively engage in listening

  15. This is to convince people to fall in love with any and everyone. This is part of the satanic agenda. This will help and convince people to be OK with lgbtq and have multi relationships. We are surrounded by witches and demons. How much more bs are people going to follow before they realize they are no longer themselves. This scary to me.

  16. What do you do when you tell a person you’ve chosen not to be in love with the choice you’ve made
    And they tell you they don’t care and they chose you anyways
    It’s not on you at all but it’s still painful to watch

  17. Do people even know what love is these days ? Everybody uses eachother, one way or another, there is no love. I might be "oldfashioned" but I want to get to know someone before getting into a relationship or into bed.. People nowadays turn this around, first sleep with someone and after think if you even like the person… To each his/her own, dont get me wrong, Im just oldfashioned and feel its the wrong way around, and gives a lot of people problems with feelings and changes the concept of love, into attraction.. Some people dont know the difference between attraction and love, and use the word "LOVE" so easy so it becomes 'hollow'. Hope this makes some sence, difficult to explain.. To all the best 🙂

  18. I rarely comment on anything but I had to on this
    Here is my opinion if anyone really cares. Lol.
    I have been going thru a really bad bad break up. We actually have been talking and have just seen each other over the weekend and it was like nothing had ever happened. I may sound crazy to some people but I don’t care, him and I have always always has some strange connection. We felt it the very first night we met 10 years ago, and they that 10 years we have been back and fourth in and out of each other’s lives. One way or another we would always pop up. It was just so so weird. It was like the universe kept pushing us.
    We love each other like crazy people.
    There’s been a lot of heartbreak and times trust I wished I had never met him.
    I wished I could just snap my fingers and turn off that love switch.
    But I can’t.
    I can’t help who I love.
    I don’t agree with this woman for one second.
    You can’t choose to love someone. Love just “is”
    I can’t look at someone and say “ I love this person” I think it so it is.
    That’s plain ridiculous.
    I love everyone. In saying everyone I even mean strangers. I love everyone in a different way of course but it’s still love and care.
    You can’t choose who you love. I think that is just a ridiculous statement and it was really bugging me every time she said that.
    Yes, falling in love is amazing. Yes, it’s hard to go theu the bad times. It takes work. It takes resilience.
    In my opinion tho, if you really truly love that person you stick theu it as much as you can. You don’t up and leave as soon as something bad happens. If you could choose to love someone then there wouldn’t be any drama or hurt at all.
    If someone were to cheat on me or not me if I could just say “okay I don’t love you anymore I’m done” then there would be no heartache.
    It makes no sense.
    I wish I could just say “sorry dude,we’ve just been thru to much I’m done”
    Well,I can. But I would ache so so bad. That wouldn’t go away cause I can’t choose it to.
    That’s love.

  19. REALLY though, put the Q's on fortune cookie sized paper. Put them in jars and thats a date.

  20. Didn’t work lol the guy was a bullshitter. If you’re a girl don’t do this unless he’s already your bf

  21. I wanna do this but you'll just look creepy if you ask personal questions and stare into a stranger's eyes for 4 minutes without a "proffesional team" on the side recording your answers.

  22. Love will make you do things against yourself, it will feel really bad and painful

  23. Am I bad person because I could not get past the big bones of her wrists. They look HUGE and it distracted me. She is a very beautiful women and I hope she doesn't read this comment. I'm not sure if her wrists are really small or her bones are really big..

  24. The talk offered plenty of great questions but no real solution to the compatibility problem. I would propose that if your goal is marriage, you have to think about what type of person you would not accept into such a role. Therefore, questions that determine important things like beliefs, values, political views, life goals, religion, and stuff like that are the ones that you want to be asking before getting into a committed relationship.

  25. "How to improve your marriage without talking about it" is such an incredibly eye opening book that I've found to improve my understanding of so many relationships in my life and the principles in it have the power,I believe, to keep any relationship strong and loving.

  26. To the people who complain that you can't just fall in love with anyone and that you can't control who you fall in love with:
    She is agreeing with you

    If you just listen until the end of the talk you will hear that this is exactly what she addressed. You cannot choose whether or not you fall in love. But you choose to stay in a relationship with a person every single day that you are with them. And they do the same. That's what people mean when they say "Love is a choice". Because, at least in this sense, it is.

  27. Weird, I've never had any romantic feelings before so this will be interesting to try out.

  28. please tell me that I wasn't the only one who stared at her amazing wristbones the whole video

  29. A channel on YouTube called Jubilee does this it’s a whole series where they get strangers to ask each other questions

  30. Once I've made a choice to love someone, but it was not mutual. It was the first time I actually opened my heart to someone. I am alone, with my love not shared.
    Now I have doubt that it is actually worth it to choose to love someone and to open up…

  31. What I think most people forget or don’t know about love is that it is work. Your not going to wake up blissfully happy every day and eventually that “honeymoon” phase will pass. It’s what you and your significant other do to stay together and to stay happy with each other. I’ve been married eight years from the time I was 19. It’s been hard and it’s been so rewarding. I love my wife and she loves me but it’s not always easy.

  32. When i wake up in 2 hours im going to be like please let me be in hormony with my biology

  33. Falling in love is all about energy. Whomever could easily laugh with us, is the one who would easily relate to our humour, joke, etc… "Are we still together? The answer to this question depends on time, how one deals with challenges of life, and how one could still hang in there through challenges of life and could still lbe loyal and love without expecting anything in return. If one could hang around that long, then one would learn about unconditional love and to discover God in the process.

  34. To y'alls who wnna try this: falling in love with someone won't mean you'll both stay in love. I had someone whom I'd just met at the time initiate these drawn-out 20Q sessions that would eat up an average of 5 hours at a time via online chat. They also popped by my school more often than I could actually hang w them, and so it wasn't a surprise that I soon grew real attached to say the least. Sure they must've felt the same way for a time, but it went from 0 to 100 Real Quick and back to 0 much quicker as I soon began to realize what a condescending narcissist they were and that whatever it is we had was toxic

  35. Where can I find someone to do this with?

  36. Wow. My first boyfriend had us do these questions when we first started dating.
    I broke up with him on our six month anniversary, and I think the only reason it lasted that long was because we were away from each other over the summer. She's very right – falling in love and staying in love are not the same thing. He was possessive, argumentative, and didn't respect me. It wasn't worth my effort.

  37. I loved this guy zac but I could not tell him that I had fallen in love with him because I feared rejection,but now I know I should have told him because it's better than regretting it later.But I will always love him no matter what.

  38. So basically if you want to fall in love with someone you should put your phone away for an hour or so and actually talk with them and listen to them!!!!

  39. she's a smart lady, i just wish she didn't talk like Chuckie from Rugratssh.

  40. Tried this with my husband. We're not doing too well, I think I don't love him. Those questions did help me to realize how compatible we are in several things, but I'm not sure that's enough.

  41. Bottom line get off ur dating apps and meet people in real life and you will have better relationships??

  42. A very interesting video. From my experience love doesn't happen until years later in the relationship. Once you have a story and you get to know this person inside and out. Really getting to know someone takes time and certain situations, good or bad, because the results of the situation are what will determine if you love this person or not. (Geez, it takes time to get to know ourselves) I mean at the beginning you might be in lust, maybe the person is handsome, beautiful, smart or wealthy. Or maybe he/she made you feel important because you were in a rough situation in the previous relationship. But then, later on, you realized that you are bored of this person. What do you then, you dont get along, that's what. So you break up. You didnt keep trying, or the other person didn't keep trying to stay in love. People change so you fell out of love with each other.

  43. I only fall in love with British Gals who have "Bob style haircuts."

  44. HI:) I am an English teacher and actually most of the books include and suggest similar questions that are not so personal though and I also find it amusing how they help to "break the ice" and build a friendly relationship between a teacher a student in a small time.

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