As one commentator of the original article mentioned, online dating has at least made finding a compatible partner significantly easier. Some online dating sites, for example, offer various types of testing services that match people with similar hobbies, religious perspectives and cultural values. As well, social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter make it easier to determine if you and another individual will be truly compatible.
Still, even if you decide to settle with someone who is “ok” instead of continuing to search for the “perfect” individual, there might be lingering doubts that could affect the health of your relationship. A recent Modern Love column titled “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This,” written by professor Mandy Len Catron at the University of British Columbia, however, could inspire you to change the way you conceptualize relationships, happiness and love.
Catron begins her article discussing the work of Dr. Arthur Aron, a psychologist who succeeded in “making two strangers fall in love.” Catron describes the work as follows: “A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes.” Six months after the experiment, the participants were married.
Of course, this is more of an antidote that evidence that staring at a person for four minutes will lead to love; however, Catron decided to try the experiment herself. She and a friend googled Dr. Aron’s questions, which begin innocently enough (1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?), but become increasingly personal (17. What is your most treasured memory? 23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?). Divided into three sets, the final group of questions is especially probing (30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself? 35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?).
Catron writes that as she and her friend talked, she was surprised by the “level of vulnerability” that each felt. Before she became truly aware of the process, they were in “intimate territory,” a process that usually takes months in a normally paced relationship. Catron writes that there exists a narrative we each hold of ourselves that we “offer up to strangers and acquaintances.” However, Dr. Aron’s questions deny us the comfort of hiding behind that narrative by creating a charged space of “interpersonal closeness” between the two individuals.
Ultimately, Catron’s final perspective is most powerful and relevant in terms of settling for Mr. Okay. “I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible–simple, even–to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.” So, settle away. Falling in love and being happy is likely more of an active process than many of us believe.
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