After my date decided to follow the Leamington-themed relationship advice offered in the last edition of the Boar, I ended up spending Valentine’s night alone.
So I did what all sad, lonely and miserable people do late in the evening, and changed the channel to Challenge. From the sofa of the dirty little lounge of our student house – which makes the dé- cor of your average inner city crack den look like an Ikea showroom personally decorated by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen – I watched endless re-runs of Classic Who Wants to be a Millionaire, with only a four pack of Special Brew and my pathetic sense of self-worth for company.
Things had to change, and luckily I had a plan. Science. And whilst it may not seem like the perfect facilitator of love, it’s really the next logical step, given how popular the use of technology has become in the 21st century dating game. And since I gave up Tinder for Lent, after a very unfortunate situation involving the complete incompetency of the reception staff at a certain hotel in Rugby, and a very angry octogenarian singleton called Janet, a change of tact seemed a good idea.
So, the science comes in the form of a study called “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness”, written by world renowned psychologist Dr Arthur Aron. The love doctor basically lists 36 personal questions which you answer with a potential partner, with the shared stories supposedly accelerating feelings of closeness. The questions are divided into three sets, and become increasingly personal as you go on. But that doesn’t seem to have put many people off, and the experiment has become 2015’s ‘must do’ activity, a bit like the Harlem Shake a couple of years back, only with less hip-thrusting (well initially at least, hur hur).
Most crucial though, is the fact that you need to find someone you’ve never spoken to before for the experiment to really work. I knew this was going to prove tricky, and I quickly abandoned my tactic of asking random girls on the piazza if they wanted to take part in this adventure of scientific discovery because a) it made me look creepier than George Osborne playing the role of the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang whilst softly humming ‘Creep’ by Radiohead to himself and b) I’m rubbish at selling things, especially myself. So I made a plea for a companion on Twitter, and luckily Cat Turhan, President of the SU, got in contact to say she was willing to take part. Is it part of the SU’s constitution that the President has to help out any Warwick student with dating problems? Quite possibly.
Anyway, I met Cat the next day at a carefully chosen venue that would provide the perfect romantic atmosphere and best help our kindling love to ignite, an environment that deserved to frame this formative encounter which could well be our first milestone on the way to a shared happy future. Unfortunately that place was all booked up, so we settled on The Duck instead.
Cat was really easy to get along with and very cheerful – I think that’s her general personality more than the fact she was meeting me – but the questions are interesting enough that even if you went on a date with someone more awkward than Ed Miliband at a swingers party, you’d probably be okay. The first set weren’t too bad and broached quite general conversational themes, from our ideal dinner guests (hers was Stephen Fry, who I find as boring as a dinner consisting of only Rich Tea biscuits and water, but I was trying to fall in love so didn’t complain too much) to premonitions of our own deaths (and Cat said she’s a terrible driver and fears it will be in a car crash, so avoid all SU transport from here onI say). This first group was quite funny and revealed that we shared a fairly similar sense of humour, which is always a good start. I had hope in my heart, and ‘Believe’ by Cher started playing in my head.
Those first lot of questions also lull you into a false sense of security though, as the second and third sets were really personal. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and listening to the detailed family history of somebody you’ve only just met feels like quite a privilege, to be honest. And I think it’s this aspect of the experiment, unguardedly revealing your personality to another person, which really fosters the connection; the questions efficiently tease out your real personality and opinions, and you can’t help but completely open up. It’s like being on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories only you’re sat opposite somebody you might fall in love with and not a colossal dickhead.
From my experience, though, sometimes it was the really personal questions that operated as a bit of a barrier to blossoming love. We both spoke poignantly on several topics and things can get very heavy for first date territory. Plus I think it’s fairly hard to appear cool to a potential gf/bf when describing your relationship with your Mother (question 24).
So despite getting on very well, myself and Cat sadly didn’t fall in love, which was actually a right bummer as I’d already picked out a nice engagement ring for under fifty quid from Argos, and asked the guy who owns Smack how much it would cost to have the reception there. We obviously parted with a variation on the ‘let’s be friends’ line although, this time, it actually felt like we both meant it. We’d simply found out so much about one another, whilst having a good laugh too, that it already feels like we’ve been friends for years. Ikr, totes emosh. And there you are, hard evidence that whilst science may not be able to find you love, it can very much win you a few new friends.
Make sure you check back in Week 10, when I’ll be meeting Societies Officer Isaac Leigh to try another scientific theory on how to fall in love, before we watch Titanic together and spoon ourselves to sleep.