Real connection, and why we fail at it

2016-01-17 11.43.59.jpg“Tell your partner your life story in 30 minutes.”

Two hours later, I knew him. I saw him from a different perspective–years deeper.

Two hours later, he knew me too.

I once stumbled upon the New York Times article “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This”. It was an intriguing title to say the least. It outlined the experience of one woman mimicking an experiment on interpersonal closeness. The original experiment used questions, ranging from superficial to probing, to see how close they could bring two strangers together.

These questions don’t necessarily instigate love. Instead, they created a deeper sense of understanding of the other person. But, is a deep level of mutual understanding the force behind love? How could you possibly not love someone after hearing their life story, the story of every event that made them who they are today?

I tried these questions with someone already very close to me. We planted ourselves on a beach in Big Sur, walking purposelessly up and down the blustery coast.

We had left off on the question, “Tell your partner your life story in 30 minutes,” and decided to lift the time restriction. I became blissfully unconscious of the hours passing.

The world moves so quickly. People skip breakfast, run late, leave early, eat alone–in pursuit of…? Success/fulfillment/wealth/the great enlightenment/what have you. Somehow, we are always left begging for more hours at the end of the day, though the whole day passed in a blur of hurried tasks and superficial small talk. The constant panic mode robs us of time to develop meaningful connections with those around us.

 

My challenge to you: spend whatever time you can devote to answering these questions. Share the activity with someone you see on a daily basis, a friend with whom you have lost touch, or even a new acquaintance. Find a safe spot–coffee shop, bedroom, backyard, rooftop–and connect. Answer as many or as few questions as you can, but remember they become deeper as you continue.

Let me know what you experience, and how this challenge changes your relationships.

 

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