Alison Taylor on relationships: An an intimacy junkie, I find The Love Game very appealing

 

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The Independent Online

I once went on a date and at the end of the evening, by way of goodbye, the guy said: "Well, you were quite the experience". Like I was a ride at Thorpe Park.

I laughed nervously at the time, but now I think I know what he was getting at. I can be pretty intense. I don't care so much for small talk and I don't necessarily hold back when it comes to topics of conversation. I may have also been known to 'over-share' – another dating rule no-no. Or is it?

I read with an almost rabid interest a piece in the New York Times recently with the irresistible headline: 'To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This'.

'This' as you may have seen in various follow-up stories in the British papers, is a set of 36 increasingly personal questions aimed at accelerating intimacy; followed by four minutes of silent staring into each other's eyes. This, apparently, is the formula for love.

Twenty years ago, the creator of the study, psychologist Arthur Aron, put two strangers into his lab and set them to work on the 'intimacy accelerator' – and they fell in love and were married six months later. The New York Times journalist who tried it with an 'acquaintance' all those years later? She fell in love.

As an intimacy junkie, it's not surprising to me that I find this appealing. If a date asked me to try something like that, I'd probably be game. It's partly old-fashioned curiosity and partly a juvenile inability to turn down anything that remotely sounds like a dare. But – and there's always a but – as the journalist points out, you have to be open to love to suggest embarking on the thing in the first place.

Off the back of the New York Times piece, some bright spark has created an app with the questions all there neat and swipe-friendly, a game-ified app, if you like. It's called 'The Love Game'. Some of the early questions are frankly unoriginal, like 'Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?'. But that's the point – start relatively safe. Then, a bit further in, the frankly very interesting: 'Before you make a phone call do you ever rehearse what you're going to say? Why?'. I'd be interested to hear somebody answer that, I think it's quite revealing. Later, you're asked to share with the person five things you like about them, which is lovely, I think.

The NYT journalist compared the accelerated levels of intimacy to staying up all night at summer camp with a new friend when she was 13. In other words, something you don't do so much as adults.

I would compare it to experiences I've had with new friends (usually drunk, granted), but not love interests. I think it's because there's a tendency to hold back with the latter. But where's the fun – and the potential love – in that?

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