Growing up, I used to play “Truth or Truth” with my friends. I will admit that it was partially because I was too chicken to play with dares, but it was also because I just enjoyed getting to know someone else through questions. It was fun to come up with interesting and unique questions and then to compare answers. And the truth is, that this game was the start of every serious relationship I ever had.
So it isn’t particularly surprising that Mandy Len Catron’s TED talk about how to fall in love in 36 questions caught my attention. Check it out yourself (and read her article in The New York Times too) and then let’s talk about it!
Catron must have been talking about me when she said, “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.” The truth is that all of us want to be loved forever. The fear that love (or happiness in general) will end keeps us from experiencing life fully. If you are anything like me, that fear may have paralyzed you at moments – made it impossible for you to move forward with something you truly wanted because it just felt too reckless.
Love certainly holds no guarantees, and I feel that I can stand up and shout from the rooftops that sometimes it just plain sucks. Sometimes (maybe even usually), love leads to pain and heartache that are just as substantial as the joy. And maybe the most logical choice would be for all of us to just stop trying to find love so that we could avoid heartache. But I want to tell you that even in the midst of heartache, love is worth it. Love brings more joy and happiness than anything else in the world. And the pain that comes from love fuels compassion, growth, and art. As I told my niece a little over a month ago, “love is always worth it.”
But to go through life believing that love just happens to us, that we have no control over who or how we love, only increases the struggles we will face. Although I’m a romantic, I agree with Catron’s belief that love is a choice. I do think that attraction, lust, and passion are perhaps not choices (or at least not fully)… and falling in love may not always be a choice in the beginning. But to stay in love with someone is a constant daily commitment, and falling out of love is definitely a choice. If love was beyond our control, then monogamy and commitment would be both impossible and stupid.
Maybe that’s why the questions work. At any point in the process, either person could walk away from the experience. Just like in a natural relationship, there are no guarantees that you will make it through to the end. There is risk and vulnerability, and the asking and answering are deliberate choices that each partner makes to share more intimate experiences with the other person.
So maybe the 36 questions are a great way to find love… though I wouldn’t suggest doing it with just anyone… especially a stranger. I think that these questions are best used in an established relationship, newly budding or well-worn. Sit down together, carve out an evening, and ask each other the questions. If you find that you like asking and answering questions, you may want to check out my favorite game ever, Loaded Questions.
What do you believe about love?
Catron suggests a few important questions to ask as we talk about love. The truth is that I don’t have answers to these questions right now, but I am working on figuring them out for myself. I hope that you will take some time to dig deep with me and figure out your own beliefs about love.
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?
What do you think? Share your beliefs about love in the comments below.
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