WATCH: Is there a formula for falling in love with anyone?

The author of "How to Fall in Love with Anyone" talks to Salon about Cinderella myths, intimacy and lasting love

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published July 2, 2017 6:00PM (EDT)

In 2015, author Mandy Len Catron offered up an intriguing proposition in the New York Times' famed Modern Love column. Could a psychologist's simple set of 36 increasingly personal questions lead a pair of virtual strangers right into romance? Catron's story about on her experiment in hacking intimacy, "To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This," became a viral sensation. But as she reveals in her new book, "How to Fall in Love with Anyone," there's no one-size-fits-all path to the human heart.

Catron spoke to Salon recently about what led to her now-famous first date, and where love led her from there.

How can answering three dozen questions bring two people together?

The idea is that because the intimacy increases gradually, you don't necessarily notice that happening. The thinking is that they would take the process of getting to know someone,  trust them and feel close to them that happens over weeks — and accelerate it into a few hours.

Why do we believe deservingness factors into falling in love?

It's grounded in these Cinderella stories, which have this narrative that some good, fundamentally virtuous person is noticed and rewarded with romantic love. . . . Cinderella is the most popular folk tale across the world. . . .  It's in our contemporary culture too. This narrative that someone is chosen and that makes their life better, I think, is really disempowering. The idea is that you have be good and just wait to be noticed. 

Can you really fall in love with anyone?

No, you can't! Absolutely not. Ultimately, these biological forces are real and powerful — but I do think you can open yourself to love's possibilities.

Watch more of Catron on what it takes to fall — and stay — in love.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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