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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Falling in love is the easy part (part 1)

Today I realised that there is an intriguing connection between Oscar Wilde's quote on male/female friendship and a TED video by Mandy Len Catron called "Falling in love is the easy part". I have also used this Wilde quote in my blogs of 10 December 2014, 15 December 2014, 19 February 2015 and 16 September 2015. This ample coverage is warranted by its provoking nature: "Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship".

In January 2015, Mandy Len Catron published an article in the New York Times called: "To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This". The article is about a psychological study designed to create romantic love in the laboratory, and her own experience while trying the study herself in 2014. By just asking 36 questions, you can fall in love with anyone. 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. Mandy Len Catron tried this experiment, it worked, and she wrote a viral article about it. Only the TED video has 1,269,345 views. (NYTTED)

The gazing into the eyes is very important in this experiment as humans bond emotionally when we gaze into each other's eyes, a process mediated by the hormone oxytocin. Also see my blog of 22 April 2015, called "Eyes are the mirror of the soul", and my blogs of 14 and 22 September 2015.

The intriguing connection is that friendship always involves exchanging personal information. Amongst heterosexual men this would normally not result into intimate bonding and neither amongst heterosexual women. In any heterosexual female/male friendship, the exchanging of personal information could actually result into a copy of Mandy Len Catron's psychological study. The more information you exchange, the more close you become to the other person.

The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue. (NYT - 36 questions)

Attractiveness between men and women has two different aspects: physical and emotional. To be very blunt: the first applies to most men and the second to many - if not most - women. It probably even explains songs like Joe Jackson's "Is she really going out with him" of which the very first line of the lyrics bluntly states: "Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street". Also see my 27 August 2015 blog called Sapiosexual: many women claim to be sexually attracted to intelligence.

For most men it's very different. To explain this I will use a quote from the 1989 movie "When Harry met Sally" (IMDb): Harry: "Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her". Sally: "So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?" Harry: "No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too". Sally: "What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?" Harry: "Doesn't matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story".

By now you many wonder: "But … is that real love? Did it last? And what’s the difference between falling in love and staying in love?" To be continued.

10CC - I'm not in love (1975) - artists, lyrics, Wiki

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