Florence, our intrepid reporter from the front lines of dating, has gone from the Tinder trenches to happily single to reconnecting with an old love. But will a simple list of questions be her undoing?
“I have a surprise for you,” I texted my boyfriend. “You’re going to LOVE it.”
He knows I’m not a bikini girl, let alone a candy-thong type girl so he knew that whatever I had in mind was something he would probably hate. “Not another exercise DVD,” he said. Last week I’d suggested we get in shape, then gave up on account of “joint pain.” The truth of the matter is that round is a shape.
This particular method of self-improvement was inspired by a Modern Love column: The 36 Questions That Lead To Love. I think you’re supposed to do it with someone you don’t already call your boyfriend but whatever.
“It’ll be good,” I said as we lounged on my bed among the weird stuffed animals. “And you don’t even have to get up to do it.”
“Fine,” he said and I read the first set of questions.
“Who would you go to dinner with if you could go with anyone in the world?” I asked. He sat up quickly.
“Is this a trap? Am I supposed to say you?”
“No! It’s to improve intimacy.”
He looked at me suspiciously, as if getting to know each other couldn’t possibly come without a catch, but eventually he lightened up and the whole thing took a little more than an hour. We laughed a lot. It was sweet and fun. He couldn’t pick who to go to dinner with, I chose Joan Didion. He likes my writing, I like his confidence when he performs. His perfect day involves me and mine involves him. Our childhoods were good, we wanted to skip the same question (and did), and we both wouldn’t want to be taking this test with anyone else. Then came the last part: looking into each other’s eyes for four minutes, which I thought would be easy until we started. The article didn’t specify if you could talk, fidget, or be in physical contact with each other, but we did all of these things and it felt like we were cheating.
“This is terrible!” He said, laughing.
“When will the timer go off?” I said but secretly I wondered, why can’t we do this? Should we break up? What sort of couple can’t gaze into each other’s eyes for 240 seconds?
When the timer finally rang we joked about how bad we were at it, but my tugging uneasiness didn’t go away. Clearly we lack something – maturity, self-confidence, the ability to blink the right times per minute – but is that something going to cause problems down the line? It’s not that I believe every Buzzfeed quiz I take, but there’s something a little bit weird about shying away from that level of intimacy with the person you’re supposed to be intimate with.
At the end of the day I was all set to break up with him, burn his things and change my cell phone number. But then he kissed me sweetly, cooked asparagus, and I forgot about it.
Thinking back on it now, the best thing about our 36 questions experience was that it was fun, and that’s true of our relationship too. I’ve dated serious romantic guys who’ve written me poems and worried about dying of Tuberculosis. It’s never worked out. In fact it’s sent me in the other direction entirely: funny, silly, with a boyish oblivion to the law of gift giving on Hallmark holidays. It’s okay though. I’ve dropped plenty of hints for Valentine’s Day already: shiny, heavy, bigger than it needs to be…
(Do you think he’ll get it? I want a five-pound Hershey’s kiss).