Sunday, January 18, 2015

Need a Little Love in Your Life?

Try this! You might be able to make yourself fall in love! Of course, you have to do this with another person, who obviously has to be willing to do it with you, meaning the potential is already there. But you wouldn't want to try it with a stranger, would you?

Of course not. Not unless you were REQUIRED to take part in the experiment. I'm guessing the students who were the guinea pigs here were required to do it. At least, when I was a freshman at a prestigious university, taking a beginning psychology class, I and all the students in the very large lecture class had to enroll in three (3) experiments if we wanted to receive a passing grade. I think I'm really lucky that my three experiments didn't involve anything like this falling-in-love idea.

(In the only one I remember, I had to look at a lot of colors and match them with colors on a color chart and explain to the grad student how I made each match. It was kind of funny: He kept telling me to do it a certain way, and I kept not doing it his way. Because I didn't care...Wait! Does this  mean some of the students in the  experiment I'll be describing here might have "cheated," too? Well, who would be surprised at that? And why would anyone accept the results of ANY of these experiments as being valid in any way? Oh, yeah, how could I have forgotten: We're not really trying to make any valid conclusions about human behavior, are we. We're just trying to get more grant money for the next set of experiments. And possibly discourage as many underclassmen as possible not to become psych majors. Which definitely worked for me.)

I did a Google Image search and chose this one because this is what true love is all about, right?

Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, falling in love, on purpose. Here's the actual study, which you should read if you can stand the obfuscatory academic jargon because it gives more insight to the minds of the experiment designers than it does to how people fall in love.

"The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings" (Google this title and you will end up with this URL which will cause the PDF to be downloaded to your computer.)

Okay, but, I know you're not going to read the whole article, so here's the gist of it, as reported by someone who actually tried it:

And here's what you will do, if you decide to try it:

Get together with the person you're trying the experiment with, and ask each other these questions:

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

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

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

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

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

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

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling ... “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ... “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

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

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Finally, the writer and her partner-in-love looked into each others' eyes for four minutes. Did it work?

For her, it did. And you can see why answering these questions together, and the soulful staring into each others' eyes, could lead to the closeness that could lead to falling in love. Because, as this writer notes:
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.

1 comment:

Jeff Wynn said...

Stop looking at me that way - I'm tired.

En serio, it seems like the definition of love is sharing - or at least a long-term commitment and willingness to do so. Loyalty must figure into it, also.

Unclear in this study - at least to me - is how much pre-encounter similarities in backgrounds matter.

Also, the relationship with one's mother, and its impact on a long-term (life) relationship is not at all clear.