So you want to fall in love?

Stare, not glare, deeply into one another's eyes

You must deeply stare, not glare, into one another’s eyes

Yesterday in fiction writing class my students laughed themselves silly. I shared with them Mandy Len Catron’s New York Times article To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This. Can answering a series of questions cause two people to fall in love, she wonders. And she decides to put Dr Aron’s theory to the test. You’ll have to read the article to find out the particulars, but the short answer is yes, sometimes it can.

My students’ reactions were priceless. In this seniors-only class there are three girls, and they were beside themselves with curiosity. They could not wait to read. But the lone guy, an outgoing, talkative fellow, was horrified. The thought of reading the article aloud (our common practice) almost unnerved him. “This is so awkward,” he wailed. While the girls laughed, he buried his head in his hands.

“Look,” I said. “I’ve vetted this. It’s fine.” But he wasn’t having any. Meanwhile the girls were eagerly turning pages. When they discovered that I included Dr Aron’s 36 questions, they squealed with delight. I said again that there was not one salacious question on that list. And, wonder of wonders, there wasn’t. Because falling in love isn’t quite what we think.

What I wanted my writing students to understand is that love happens through conversation. (And if you’ve read my books you know this.) Not through lusting over a hot-hot body, as so many sitcoms would have us believe. Or by hopping into the sack and then later cobbling together a tenuous relationship. Falling in love involves mutual affirmation and a meeting of the minds.

After the smack talk abated, I cued up the classic film Marty. Yes, I have more lessons for them about loneliness and the power of love. We did not have time to finish the movie, but we will. Their reaction to Marty is a story for another time. (As is our discussion about “Beer Goggles” and how drunkenness warps our perception of everything.)

What do you think about how people fall in love? Do share.


2 thoughts on “So you want to fall in love?

  1. Susan Kaye

    Falling in love isn’t all from conversation. My husband said barely 50 words to me, including the “I do” before we were married. I think asking standard questions is great because, no doubt, the questions touch on topics that can go unexplored in the course of usual courtship. Supposedly, two questions that can go a long way to showing compatibility are: 1. Have you ever traveled in a foreign country alone? and 2. Do you like horror movies? Couples who answers agree have a shot. Supposedly.

    I am not boostering lust, but I believe there has to be at least some attraction on a physical level. Yes, physical attraction wears off after a while and that’s why many beautiful people are trapped in hideous relationships. Even a mug like Earnest Borgnine is attractive to someone. I’ve seen his widow, she is still a knock-out.


    1. Robin Helm

      I think conversation certainly begins the process and is much more important that the physical side, if the conversation is meaningful. When we started dating, my husband waited four months to kiss me. He had already told me he loved me by then. My younger daughter’s fiance waited six months to kiss her.

      I also agree with Susan, in that had that first kiss held no attraction for me or my daughter, we would have ended the relationships. There must be some chemistry – some spark.

      However, people who put the cart before the horse by hopping into bed with a person they really don’t know usually find themselves in a loveless marriage. You can’t stay in bed 24/7.



Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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