Love Hack, Baby: Can You Fall In Love Through Texting?


If I told you there was an easy way to “hack” this whole love game, would you try it?

Whoa, let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Let me explain first.

Around this time last year, a New York Times article titled “titled “No. 37: Big Wedding Or Small?” went viral. The article contained 36 questions that, when shared with another person, supposedly led to love.

The questions are divided into three sections, with the questions becoming more personal in each section, The first section contains questions like “1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” while the third section has much more probing questions like “35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?” Yeah, intense.

The questions were actually pulled from a study conducted by Dr. Arthur Aron in 1997. A university Psychology class was divided into pairs, with the students instructed to ask each other the 36 questions over a 45 minute period. The goal of the study was to see if sharing such intimate information would lead to an accelerated feeling of closeness between partners. The study was quite successful. According to a follow up questionnaire administered 7 weeks after the initial study:

  • 57% of participants had at least one subsequent conversation,

  • 35% of participants had done something together,

  • and 37% of participants had subsequently sat together in class.

Even more surprising, after 45 minutes of conversation, participants rated their level of closeness with their partners closer than the closest relationship in the lives of 30% of similar students.

So the questions definitely work in a person-to-person conversation. But what if you’re talking to someone online? What if you’re talking to someone through text?

Nowadays, with so many singles using dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid, text conversation is a common prerequisite to in-person dating. People use text as a sort of screening process to decide if someone is worth

At Venngage, we wanted to put this 21st century question to the test. They paired up 32 participants and instructed them to ask each other the same 36 questions as in the original article. The twist? They would be conversing entirely through text message, without any physical interaction or even a picture of their partner to go off of. Instead, they would rely entirely on words to get a sense of who their partner’s personality.

Ok, so we’re all a little scared of being catfished. But the dating landscape--and the communication landscape in general--is changing. According to a survey by Skout, 76% of people have  a good friend that they met online but have never met up with in person. And according to Pew Research Center, 59% of people consider dating sites a good way to meet people, a big leap from the 44% who thought so in 2005.

So what did our study find?

When it comes to dating, people still look for a partner that they can reach out to and touch. Although 50% of participants said that they found it easier to discuss personal topics over text and 37% said that they had no preference when it came to discussing personal topics over text versus in-person, 53% of people still preferred offline conversation in general to text conversation.

When asked the likelihood of participants maintaining contact with their partners after the study, 78% of participants said that they did not intend to see their partners again.

What were their reasons? Many participants stated that they simply didn’t feel a physical attraction when they met their partner in person. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that physical attraction is important in a romantic relationship, and it was something that most participants missed.

When asked if participants would use the 36 questions method of getting to know a date again, many said that they would do the exercise in person, and pulling certain questions. In an organic, real world setting (not in a controlled study space) having a 45 minute question and answer period delving deep into your personal life is a big thing to spring on someone.

So while this love “hack” is a good way to break the ice and get to know someone more intimately, love will ultimately spring from the intangible, inexplicable sense of attraction that two people have towards each other. Ah, l’amour!

You can read the full study here.