The 36 questions that lead to love was a new experiment for me. As far as experiments go, that was the first time that I was a participant in a trial in which I had personal interests. However, I would not dismiss the experiment because it provided some critical insight into how I perceive love. To enhance the experience I decided to approach a person that I knew less about. Therefore, I went to the internet and found a stranger that I considered attractive. I convinced her to undertake the experiment with me, of which she agreed to under certain conditions that involve her privacy. The following is adate narrative about the individual and collective experiences during the experiment.
The first set of questions evoked little emotions as they were some sought of standard procedure. One would expect to be asked or ask most of the questions during their first date. Therefore, I did not see or sense any emotional discomfort during the date. My date seemed excited about some of the questions. For instance, the sixth question excited her because she is always curious about her later years. Surprisingly, she preferred to retain her mind even though she is obsessed with beauty. On the other hand, some questions proved difficult for me to answer because I never have that line of thinking. For instance, question one about dinner guest proved almost impossible. I do have a list of people I consider role models, but the thought of meeting them does not excite me, as it ought to. Interestingly, despite the difficulty in answering the question, I felt rather calm. There was no emotional reaction. In my mind, I thought the nature in which she had responded to the first set of questions had allowed me to relax and settle into the date. She was showing enthusiasm for the occasion, and I was glad that she was not bored or upset. The only question that came close to altering the mood during the first part of the date was question 8 because it created the need to expose one's sentiments to the other. She had her idea of what she thinks we have in common, but she was not sure that I feel the same or if I agree with it. Worse, there is a chance that I might dislike the thought of having the three things that she was going to describe. She ran the risk of seeing her sentiments unreciprocated as described by Illouz (2012). However, her gamble paid off because I agreed with her views that we are both slightly introverted.
Away from the first set of questions, the second set of questions were almost the exact opposite of the first. They increased the risk of both of us revealing ourselves to each other as being emotionally unrestrained. My emotions went from fear to nervousness, to excitement, sadness, and back nervousness. I barely managed to sit through question 18 as she talked about her traumatic childhood experiences. I had heard and read about rape victims, but she was the first person that I met in person who had been raped. I was flooded by a feeling of sadness, which I struggled to control because I was not sure of how she would react to pity. On the other hand, I was angry because a man just like me could do such a thing to a child. On her part, she did not seem sad or sorry for herself. She explained that she had undergone several therapies and that the person who raped her had been tried and found guilty for the crime. At that point, I was confused because I did not know whether to proceed to the next question or continue with the current line of discussion. I felt like if I try to move to the next question, she might think I am trying to dismiss her case. Alternatively, if I dwell on the topic, I might upset her because that was a traumatic experience. Luckily, she asked me a similar question and felt stupid explaining a childhood beating I had received from my mother, which for some reason I felt was incomparable to her experience. I felt a combination of nervousness and fear when she was answering question twenty-one. Despite this being an experiment, I had chosen her because she is a potential suitor. The last thing I would want to hear were sentiments that discouraged my pursuit. I feared that she would describe love and affection as playing minimal roles in her life. According to me, that would be a nice way of saying that, she is emotionally unavailable. The modern society portrays the lack of commitment as something desirable and pleasurable. Men and women brag about being single and having no time for commitment. I feared that she might have bought into that ideology. I was relieved and felt elated when she said that love and affection are the most important part of her life. The date reached the climax point at question number twenty-two. I could see the nervousness in her eyes as this was her first chance to see how I thought of her. I was feeling nervous myself because I also did not know how she might respond to my sentiments. I complimented her beauty, her good taste in cologne, her accent, her ability forgive, and her attention to detail. Her attention to detail had kept me on edge throughout the second part of our conversation because I was afraid she might notice something she did not like. The excitement returned when she pointed out my looks and listening skills. I have always known that I am a good listener when it comes to the things that I am interested in. Therefore, when she pointed out my listening skills, it was some acknowledgment of my interest in her.
As the date concluded, the final part of the exercise was riddled with excitement. At that point, both of us felt like we already know the most important aspects of each other. The other activities only provided an avenue for further interaction. Most of the questions in the third part required the perception of my partner's thoughts and feelings. The making of true statements about each other proved to be a challenge. I felt like I know how she is feeling but was unsure of myself. She, on the other hand, was bold as she went about the exercise. I wondered whether I had been very open and obvious about my feelings and emotions. She made statements like both of us feeling compelled to do the exercise, which was true. The twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth questions brought an eerie awkwardness into the room because of the nature in which the answers can be interpreted. I felt like I had to honest with her for the sake of the experiment and purposes of increasing my chances with her. However, I was worried that the truth might do the exact opposite. If I lie, it might compromise the experiment and ruin my chances with her. At that moment, a feeling of confusion set in as I contemplated my next move. Another worry set in as I contemplated the next move was the fact that she might be reading my emotions and reacting to them. It seemed that I had to jump off the ledge. Once more, I had to take a risk uncertain of the response I would get, unlike the way contemporary people seek love (Illouz, 2012). Luckily, we got past the question without disappointments. She had warned me about lying to her, and I took the honest route. She also expressed her strong liking for my height and gait, which I had started to get worried, she had not taken notice. The response I got was satisfactory. As the date ended, we both had the feeling that the encounter had turned out to be a good date. Nevertheless, there was the uncertainty, of what would happen next.
The date worked to confirm most of the arguments put forward by Illouz (2012). In the game of love, the biggest fear is that of rejection. Rejection in the sense of failure to get what one gives. I tried to avoid the feeling of disappointment by holding back my feelings and thoughts. However, most of my feelings, thoughts, and sentiments were reciprocated. The experience revealed that I am not so different from the contemporary humans described by Illouz because I am overly cautious, but I recognize the need to using a different approach in the pursuit of love.
Illouz, E. (2012). Why love hurts, a sociological explanation. Cambridge: Polity Press.
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