Monday, April 23, 2012

Monogamy, and Why Lust is a Double-Edged Sword

For Many, our desire to procreate and the intense emotions of power, vanity, and pride associated with the pursuit of being sexually appealing, walks hand in hand with pain and for some, our doom.

As beautiful as she is, is she worth it?

Ignore the statement above for several minutes. I'll get to it soon. After reading both the men and women's version of why dating can be frustrating, I realize this is a perfect example of an unfortunate irony in life. In the example of the double bind women and men have to deal with in regards to dating, society preaches morals that conflict with our biological desires. We can blame society, but if we really look at it, this quandary cannot be avoided. When two people are in a relationship, and one side is having an affair, loyalty is lost. This is a taboo because the loyal party would feel hurt and since people are more likely to identify with feelings of hurt, the majority of people would begin to shame and look down on the betrayer. The question is, if the human race got a do over, is it possible polygamy could be the norm? Is it our feelings of being hurt and betrayal that molds society to look down on cheaters and influence monogamy to be the norm? 

What about other animals? From a bit of research of the sex lives of chimpanzees according to Wikipedia: "Each female copulates with many males, and vice versa". Other websites confirm the accuracy of this statement. Chimps are polygamous and although unknown to what degree, primates have been found to have moral conscience. Need proof? Take a look at this experiment:

Morals are formed from an ability to feel empathy. It might be possible that primates and many animals can experience emotions to the degree we do. If chimpanzees have morals, why can chimps live a polygamous life and yet not experience feelings of betrayal associated with having more than one sexual partner as we humans would? As funny as it may be to imagine, picture a human civilization as a group of 10 people total- 5 men and 5 women. Each one of us males gets to mate with any of the females we choose with. Would I still feel betrayed if my friend had sex with the same girl as well? Initially I would feel a hint of betrayal, but the more I think about it, the more I feel alright with this notion. When we all have the sexual freedom to choose our mates in our small 10 people “community”, loyalty has not been broken. Disloyalty in this scenario would have nothing to do with mating choices. But if one of the individual that was in our group of ten decided to leave to join another human civilization to meet their sexual desires, then the feeling of disloyalty manifests. It’s the same with human beings in our society. It’s the idea of our partner having sex with someone outside our group, which is considered disloyal. What is this group for humans in our society and where does it come from?

The answer is marriage. If you ask many women, they will tell you that marriage is a magical moment where two people come together to be one and to love each other for the rest of their lives. Marriage consists of two people. The idea of marriage- which was based on the idea that women needed someone to take care of them back in the day because women did not have equal rights as men and therefore needed protection- created the “group” consisting of only two people: one man, one woman. Same with the example from above, when one side looks outside the “group” to meet his or her sexual desires, betrayal and disloyalty is manifested. Feelings of betrayal from a monogamous relationship stems from the idea of marriage. Can marriage work if it’s legally defined as the union of one man and multiple women? After all, woman needed protection back in the day so wouldn’t a man who was taking care of more than one woman be looked upon favorably? Wouldn’t he be perceived as an honorable man who wants to take care of more than one woman for the rest of his life?
In our time, sex is considered a physically intimate act only done with someone of the opposite sex that you love. Our society views sex as equivalent to love. It is taboo to sleep around. However, when it comes to biological and evolutionary terms, sex has nothing to do with love at all. Men desire attractive beautiful women. Women desire a man who is dominant and can make her feel passionate emotions- emotions that a bad boy can make her feel to the point where she is willing to put up with the abusive aspects. Neither of these things have anything to do with love. One might be able to say, the woman is in love with the bad boy’s characteristics, but not love in terms of heartfelt genuine care and connection.  This is also comparable to the idea that a man might love a woman because of the amount of physical and sexual satisfaction that he gets from her. But again, it’s still not love from genuine care and emotional connection. Remember that this is my definition of true love, but as stated in the, “Why Women Can’t Find a Good Man” article, there are two other types of love: lust and attraction- although I’d argue that lust and attraction are two sides of the same coin. But aside from the different types of love, marriage created the feelings of betrayal and disloyalty that stems from having more than one sexual partner. Nowadays, people are used to the idea of having only one sexual partner. These conditioned, negative feelings associated with sleeping around make it all the more difficult for our society to view polygamy as a possible norm. Polygamy is in our nature, and there are no inherited feelings of disloyalty associated with it. Hundreds of years of monogamous marriages have forced us to shun polygamy and not question the status quo. Past civilizations have experimented with polygamy. The holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, outlawed polygamy in 800 A.D., possibly for good reason as polygamy does not promote the adequate care of children’s needs. Seems like polygamy and monogamy are both problematic in society. 

The more people there are, the more unlikely there will be true equality for all. Let’s take that same hypothetical scenario of our 10 person civilization. If only two of the five men get to mate, feelings of jealousy and resentment will fester. This is the way our society is. The majority of us won’t be able to have sex with that attractive girl we desire. Crimes such as murder are committed out of feelings of unfairness, jealousy, and anger. We are inherently flawed. If it’s not feelings of betrayal and disloyalty we feel from cheating partners, it’s unfairness and jealousy we will feel- both of these emotions manifesting as anger. Not everyone can win. Not everyone will be happy. It is because of our desire for sex and lust that feelings of negativity manifest. Even feelings of ego, pride, greed, and dominance that males work so hard subconsciously and consciously for are for sex. Bullies tease others for dominance. Men workout just to flock their “feathers”. Just how many men out there actually work out for their health? Men will risk their lives and health to fight other people over arguments just to protect their egos. All the things we do, all just for the opposite sex. We will tease others and put others down just to display our dominance for the opportunity for sex. We hurt others for sex. If we had no urge to have sex, would we still care about status? Would we care about being part of the cool kids in high school? No. We would not. All the battles fought for glory or power would not have happened. Without the desire for sex, we wouldn’t have overpopulation in the world. Without overpopulation, there would be no battles fought over for limited resources. Of course life would not continue if no one ever had sex, but if humans were only programmed to desire sex for a few short years in our lives, life would still continue and there would be peace in the world. As ludicrous as it may sound, our lives and society may be much better off if we weren’t so concerned with having sex. Unfortunately, this will never happen. There will never be peace in the world, because there will always be unfairness. Even in societies where fairness seems to be prevalent, men’s desire for power, greed, and status- a byproduct of lust- will eventually end peace. 

It’s not just sex. It’s true with the vast majority of things that gives us pleasure. The tasty foods we eat harm our bodies. The things we find exciting can potentially cause us injury or harm. Rock climbing and going on adventures- as exciting as it may seem, there is danger involved. Sex sustains our human lineage and pleasure makes us feel good. But our insatiable appetite for sex and pursuit of pleasure also contributes to our unhappiness individually and our doom as a society in the future. The human race has and will continue to cause pain to each other to fulfill our needs for power, vanity, glory, and in the foreseeable future: basic survival needs of food, water, energy, and land.          
Writing this has almost made me feel like a life of celibacy is worth living. Knowing this, I still want to experience sex. So the solution for men from the double-bind? Become a man who is a master communicator, a man who can communicate feelings and stir up passionate emotions without having the abusive aspects of bad boys. It’s way easier said than done, I know. There are quite a few dating gurus out there who teach how to be this new modern world alpha-man. David Wygant and Carlos Xuma are two guys I have studied from and admire their abilities to connect with and talk with women and people in general. These two guys are not pick-up artists. They teach you how to genuinely meet and connect with those people you want to talk to and get to know better. And the solution for women? Take the initiative to walking up and starting a conversation with a guy you find attractive. Sooner or later, you will find one of these modern-day aspiring alpha men who can closely match your idea of your prince. In this day and age, women should learn to take the initiative to talk to guys they are attracted to as well. After all, if women want better dating relationships with men, shouldn’t they take more initiative for their own lives as well as the men?    

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Evil Side of Me

Regardless whether I watch a nature documentary of the Himalayas, revisit my favorite childhood shows- pbs kids’ Arthur and Zoboomafoo, or read, see, and hear about other people’s travel stories and pictures online or in person, I am reminded of my desire for adventure. I was researching online how other people who travel constantly fund their trips and adventures, and unfortunately there is no clear specific answer for everyone. Of course I need to figure out how I am going to fund my own adventure plans. Even though I have preliminary ideas such as travel nursing and a recently discovered option for nurses called per diem, many times I find myself going back online trying to find more ways to travel long term. Part of me has never understood why people would want to work. Perhaps most people do not want to work if given the choice. Here I am fretting over how I will travel and live a life of adventure because it seems like the majority of people out there have to work from 9 to 5, five days a week. It is not a type of life I want to live. The concept of being rich in terms of time and having the freedom to do what you want, when you want in Tim Ferris’ book, “The Four Hour Work Week” and Brian Kim’s article of, “Why Time Affluence Beats Material Affluence” speaks of monumental worth to me. In the end, part of living an adventurous life is having true freedom to do what you want when you want to. Of course I’m not talking about being able to fly off to Africa tomorrow if I chose to as that seems too erratic and spontaneous for me. But having the ability to make a decently high amount of money, and being able to be my own boss and determining when I want to go travel without having to ask for other people’s permission is a gold mine for me. There’s also much excitement in anticipation of the time spent planning and dreaming of the adventure before you set sail. Although this is the life I desire to live and is something I definitely want in my life, there is a dark, cynical, and malignant side of me here.
It has to do with an inferiority complex I have. All though out middle school, high school, and even at college, there are times where I hold resentment or a hidden dislike for people that seem to have the image of popularity, coolness, and happiness. It’s complex. If I personally know these people and get along with them, I do not hold resentment towards them at all. If it’s someone popular who I know purely through their name, and just say hi or bye when necessary to prevent social awkwardness, then there’s a certain amount of hidden dislike I have towards them. Some of these people I am talking about are not always rude or condescending, but because they are outgoing, they have more friends and seem happier. Well what’s the big deal about being popular especially if I know I don’t even want superficial relationships? I suppose it’s because society in America promotes extroversion and being popular as what everyone wants and to be the norm. I feel unsympathetic people may judge me harshly since I don’t have many friends, aren’t good with girls, and don’t go where popular people are. People who are popular also tend to have higher social statuses and higher social status means more attractive girls that will flock their way.

It’s times like this when I think about these people who are happier now because of their higher social status- especially the ones who may act a tad bit arrogant and superior towards others, that I dream about having the lifestyle of travel, adventure, and excitement. Then I pretend in my mind some of these people from high school whom I did not get along with or were secretively jealous of their popularity, living lives working a job they hate 5 days a week, a slave to their job to pay off their bills and to support their wife and kids after getting married- I now view marriage and kids as a hidden trap promoted by society. Marriage robs men of their freedom, free time, hard earned money, and mental and emotional energy. If the marriage works badly, then divorce orders half of our salary to given to the ex-wife. Marriage rates are at 50% in the U.S. There is no love anymore after marriage occurs because you grow tired of seeing each other every day. The sex dies after marriage especially if kids are born. And after kids are born, how many women still look that attractive as before? I could go on and on about the downsides of marriage but I’m going to stop here. Then for kids, what good do kids really do? On average, one kid spends at least $180,000 by age 18- before college. That is the minimum for a kid at age 18 prior to college. And at the end of the day, how many parents scream and yell at their kids for doing things that parents just can’t understand or approve of? These are my own views and perhaps for some people out there, they focus on marriage and kids from another point of view. Because of these feelings of jealousy and unfairness, I want these types of people to get married and have kids. I secretly desire to hear, years from now after a high school reunion, how these people have turned into overweight fart-bags who are living a life they do not want while I live a life filled with excitement and adventure. As evil as that sounds, that’s how I feel at times. 

What about the women I liked through high school? To be honest, the same view applies as I want them to feel how I felt back in high school. Back in high school, guys like me did not have girlfriends. Attractive women wouldn’t think twice about talking to us. We weren’t the bad boys who were cocky and were popular. We weren’t the guys that went to school dances. We weren’t the guys who went to parties, or even for those that did, were barely noticed by the attractive women. So of course I want them to feel like how I felt. To be completely honest, I want the women who thought they were untouchable and hot stuff to have kids, become fat, and see their once beautiful bodies start to lose it. Yes, I’m going all out and being completely honest about how I feel about this topic. I will not hide my thoughts and feelings by sugar coating them. I want those women who I liked to want to desire me for the better man I’ve become and the lifestyle I can live. See the pictures of me traveling and going on adventures. See me smiling behind that grin, the muscular and toned body I have, and the lifestyle I live. Then they will begin to feel that the person they didn’t notice back in high school, they should have noticed. Although I know intellectually that I just was not as confident to be a man girls would be attracted to, I still felt hurt emotionally that these attractive women I saw didn’t even notice me. So of course there’s the part of me that wants to return the favor.

Of course an interesting scenario comes up in my mind. If one day I did see a girl I liked in high school, we began to talk and I can tell that she now likes me, how would I deal with that situation? Assuming she is still attractive, would I use that hidden and nearly forgotten resentment against her to make her feel like she should have paid more attention to me? Or would I welcome her into my life? Hard to say but I think I would definitely take the opportunity to do you know what. From assuming this, I feel that guys may feel like they are more in love with a woman just because we bang her a few times. This type of “love” results from a confusion standpoint. The guy liked the girl in high school, years later the girl likes the guy, the guy takes the chance to deposit sperm into a condom, and now the guy thinks he is in love because the girl has acquiesced to his previous desires years ago. A likely sequence of events to follow are, the guys starts paying for her stuff, paying for her dinners, buying her clothes all in an attempt to keep her and keep her happy so the sex keeps coming. The guy not wanting to lose her because he is not confident in his ability to meet new women, ends up making a financial mistake by tying the knot and having kids. Women may also poke holes in the condom or try to retrieve the sperm in the condom to get herself pregnant and forcing you to man up to your responsibilities. Just listen to this:


I feel like I may take her into my life but I know I must not get married. At what point in a relationship with a woman should I tell her I do not want to get married? If I come out honest in the beginning, I might not have a relationship at all. I do want to experience relationships with girls through dating but I guess I will have to see. 

What about the thought of forgiving those who you felt have acted superior and condescending towards you? Revenge can be a sweet thing when you see someone that humiliated you suffer. I find myself able to forgive someone who may have been condescending towards me if I live my life the way I want to. If I live my life with the lifestyle how I desire to and someone else is not living as happily, I can forgive them on a superficial level because I know deep down they must be suffering. Hence, revenge exacted without having to interfere. So does that count as forgiveness? Deep down probably not. It’s one thing to forget what something has done to you and another to forgive them. If someone truly hurt you in the past, is it possible to forgive them without any sort of compensation or punishment? Let’s take an example I had senior year in high school.

 I was in Calculus class and it was likely the end of the year because no one in the class was doing any homework or class work. My friend and two other people proceeded to play cards with two other people I did not know. I had some hesitation to play cards because I only knew one game, big 2. I briefly mentioned I did not know many card games, hinting that I did not know how to play the other major card games. Then this junior who was in the class who was sitting across from me in our table of four yelled out as if to the entire class, “You don’t know how to play Texas hold em or Poker?” “Have you been living under a rock?” His second comment was what really made me tense up and wanting to kill this guy. I replied in a calm but slightly embarrassed and agitated tone of voice, “No, I don’t know how to play”. He went on to make a huge deal about me not knowing how to play any of these card games. It was hurtful that he reacted in a very judgmental tone of voice and I felt like he was purposefully embarrassing me in front of others by yelling out loud. Much of the time after that class was spent thinking about what I should have said to shut him the fuck up and embarrass him in front of others.

As of right now, about two years have gone by. When I think it to myself in my mind I’m not too mad anymore but if I saw him in person again out of pure chance, I would probably avoid and completely ignore him. In a way, the emotions of anger and hurt are no longer as strong as first, but I have not forgotten the incidence. Know that I know what type of person he is, I will be ignoring him if I ever see him again. If I did have to interact with him for some reason, I would respond very minimally with my body turned away from him. And if I did see him down the street and he made eye contact with me, I would make sure at all costs that he looks away first. From one can observe from my description, I would love to have him pay for how he made me feel. I would not purposefully seek revenge, but if the chance ever came up, I probably would seek justice. From this example, can I say I’ve truly forgiven him? Probably not because forgiveness requires letting all of the negative emotions go. It sounds to me that if we have truly forgiven someone, if given the chance now to exact revenge, we would not look for recuperation. If we would still gladly take that chance for revenge, then we haven’t truly forgiven them? It seems like time doesn’t heal all wounds completely then. Time will make the negative emotions go away for the most part, but not all of it. Or perhaps I should wait another year before I ask if I have forgiven him?

The only real solution that would heal this type of damaged relationship would be through a genuine, heartfelt apology. The apology must be initiated by the one who hurt the other. Any forced apology means very little because they were not truly sorry for what they did. A forced apology still shows that the person does not get that what they did was hurtful. However, an authentic apology done right can heal all wounds very fast. It’s possible to even feel closer and warm to the person that hurt you simply because being honest and apologizing authentically requires being emotionally intimate and them dropping their ego. I feel like if I saw him someday and he came out to apologize, I would completely forgive him for what he did and said.       

To sum this all up, it’s apparent to me that I experience Schadenfreude like most people. For those people who don’t have to work as hard as me, and have a life more enjoyable than me right now, I feel that unfairness and would rather they have to work just as hard as me to succeed. I wonder if people with great morals experience Schadenfreude, or if they just find a way to focus on their own journey rather than others’. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why It is Crucial to Understand Appropriate Self-Disclosure

I was with my friend late yesterday night. We were in his car and driving to memorial park to check out the park since neither of us had been there for a while. I was sitting in the passenger seat, and we were discussing about relationships. He briefly mentioned something that stood out in my mind. “You know how some relationships have one person who feels closer than the other?” At this point, he was not specific about which relationship he was talking about. He might have been talking about a previous relationship, a currently existing relationship, our relationship, or it could have just been a hypothetical relationship he was asking as a question. I really did not know if there was more to that brief question than to the extent where I implied it in my own mind. In my own mind, I knew he could have been talking about our relationship as he knows about my blog and mostly likely knows how much I have loved and appreciated him as a friend. After he posed that question, I remember thinking in my mind, “Hhmm, is he talking about our friendship?” It was the inevitable question that was going to be lurking deep down in the back of my mind. In the moment, I wanted to ask him if he was specifically talking about our relationship. Of course once I imagined myself asking that in my head, I felt a hesitation as if a part of me said, “don’t ask it in those words!” It is obvious to me now and even when I thought that, that asking him if he was specifically talking about our relationship, would have been too risky as I was afraid how he would answer. If he answered, “no, I’m not talking about us”, there would be a part of me that would feel like I put him in a tough situation and forced him to answer that way. In a way, if he answered like that, I would know it might not have been a completely truthful reply as he may have wanted to prevent me from feeling hurt. Regardless if he answered directly or indirectly, if his message was, “Yes, I was hinting at our relationship”, of course he would feel like an asshole for saying that and of course I would have felt hurt deep down. 

As of right now, as I am thinking about it, I don’t question whether I should or should not ask him if he was referring to our relationship. I’m curious to know, but at the same time, there’s a deeper reason. In order to create emotional intimacy, it’s necessary to discuss about the relationship two people share with each other, and how the two of them are each affected by what they say to each other. To put it simple and concise, it’s necessary to talk about how we feel about the relationship and how we feel about things we say to each other. Talking about our relationship, understanding each other’s point of views of the relationship will actually bring us closer as long as both sides are honest and accept how both sides feel. Perhaps he truly does not feel as close to me as I do about him. Initially I would feel hurt that my depth of closeness and intimacy is not reciprocated by him. However, the more I think about this, the more grateful and appreciative I believe I would actually feel if this was the case. Firstly because honesty is a must to develop emotional intimacy. Secondly, because I can take his honest feedback and learn to improve to develop more intimacy. When I ask myself, is it a big possibility that he does not feel as close to me? To be very honest, it’s definitely possible. Self-disclosure about things more personal and emotional to me is my main weakness when it comes to communication. I know I have not expressed some of my own personal and painful past due to fear, hesitation, and opportunity. So when it comes to comparing to him, my self-disclosure abilities is definitely short in stature compared to his. Even from knowing this, I feel this is a good lesson that teaches me that developing the ability to gradually-escalate the depth of self-disclosure is as important to develop intimacy as being curious, asking the right questions, listening, and understanding are.

Perhaps his brief rhetorical question of, “You know how some relationships have one person who is closer to the other?”, was not meant to refer to our relationship. Perhaps I’m just completely over-blowing this entire charade in my mind. It still has taught me a lesson of the importance of appropriate self-disclosure. Appropriate self-disclosure is absolutely a necessity and there is something that currently confuses me as I type this. I found a website describing an experiment done that yielded amazing results of closeness and intimacy between people who had never met each other- I was googling around when I found this. In 1997, Psychologist Arthur Aron published a paper in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness". They wanted to know if they could create lab conditions that would make strangers quickly bond and form close friendships, even romantic engagements, after just a few minutes. Here is an excerpt from the website:

“They arranged volunteers in pairs, and gave them a list of 36 questions that, one by one, they were both asked to answer openly over an hour "in a kind of sharing game". Even before the hour was up, respondents typically said they felt unusually close to the person they had shared questions with.”

 David Rowan, the author of the article I found, simulated Arthur Aron’s “fast friends” experiment with worldly senior executives and entrepreneurs. Here is more from the website that details the steps and results:
I found my opportunity at WPP's recent Stream conference in Athens… “Take part in a psychological experiment, and make friends fast,” I scribbled on the whiteboard where session hosts competed for delegates' attention. The brave 18 people curious enough to show up discovered that this was no false advertising: the experiment really did promote incredibly fast bonding.
Like Aron, I paired the high-achieving entrepreneurs, investors, editors and executives to answer 36 questions. And like Dr Aron's participants, mine were told that their task, which sounded fun, was "simply to get close to your partner" over an hour. They were given the questions, printed out in order, and told that both partners should answer each of them in turn.         
The questions began simply enough:
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a "perfect" day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

Gradually, the questions became more probing and personal:
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you've dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven't you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Finally, as the hour approached, the questions pressed the pair on their deeper life values:
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
- How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people's?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- Make three true "we" statements each. For instance "We are both in this room feeling..."
- Complete this sentence: "I wish I had someone with whom I could share..."
- If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things that you might not say to someone you've just met.
- Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven't you told them yet?
- Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
- Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
- Share a personal problem and ask your partner's advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

I also used a few deliciously probing variants on the original questions, including these from a similar study:
- If you could choose the sex and physical appearance of your soon-to-be-born child, would you do it?
- Would you be willing to have horrible nightmares for a year if you would be rewarded with extraordinary wealth?
- While on a trip to another city, your spouse (or lover) meets and spends a night w/ an exciting stranger. Given they will never meet again, and you will not otherwise learn of the incident, would you want your partner to tell you about it?

In the original experiment, researchers created a control group where questions were based around small-talk -- far less emotionally probing questions such as:
- What gifts did you receive last Christmas/Hanukkah?
- What foreign country would you most like to visit? What attracts you to this place?

In the original 1997 "fast friends" experiment, even before the hour was up, participants in the main group typically identified strong feelings of closeness with their partner, often exchanging contact details and indicating a wish to meet up again. This was far pronounced than members of the control group that paired up to engage in small-talk.

Lo and behold, most participants in my Stream study reported experiencing an intense feeling of having bonded with their experiment partner within 45 minutes. "We certainly became very close in an extremely short period of time," one participant said; another said with surprise that she had revealed things that not even her boyfriend knew. Some pairs of new friends were still taking two hours later.

"I'm glad it worked so well, and I was happy to hear the procedure has been applied in such a real world setting," Arthur Aron said when I shared the results with him. "The effect is based not just on reciprocal self-disclosure, but on gradually escalating reciprocal self-disclosure." In the original experiment, he said, "we also tested an intense version of this with cross-sex couples - and the first ones we tested fell in love and got married. And as of last year, when I last had contact with them, they were still together."

The study also produces similar results when pairs are of different races and people in professional groups you might think would struggle to find much in common, he said. "We've used the method with cross-race groups, and other cross-group pairs like community members and police, with great effects -- not just at creating closeness within each pair, but that closeness extending to more positive attitudes towards the partner's group as a whole."

The original 1997 paper pondered what was happening. "So are we producing real closeness? Yes and no," the authors wrote. "We think that the closeness produced in these studies is experienced as similar in many important ways to felt closeness in naturally occurring relationships that develop over time. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the procedure produces loyalty, dependence, commitment, or other relationship aspects that might take longer to develop."                                                                                                              
Courtesy to

Phew! That’s a huge chunk of the article right there. I found and read this article on December 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm according to my Opera bookmark. This article really gives me insight to why asking the right questions can lead to emotional intimacy. The one thing that does confuse me is that I know there are times where too much self-disclosure, too fast can cause distance in a relationship. This is evidenced by another article I have found online written by Dr. Steve Frisch who has a Psy. D and works as a clinical psychologist in Chicago:

Appropriate self-disclosure has five components. These five components are:
1.) BREADTH: the amount of information being disclosed
2.) DEPTH: the intimacy of the information
3.) DURATION: the amount of time spent in self-disclosure
4) TARGET PERSON: who you’re talking to
5) SITUATION: the conditions under which the disclosure is made
There are appropriate and inappropriate ways to create openness in a relationship. A woman came to me years ago and described a friend who was difficult to be around. “Sometimes my friend just sits there and talks,” the woman said. “The things she says are very personal, very personal. And they are always about her. Most of the time I blush. In fact, you wouldn’t hear those things from other people.”
She folded her hands uncomfortably, “I don’t even know how to do some of those things, do you know what I mean?” she leaned toward me and talked softly. “My friend says things that seem outrageous, but she treats them as if they are normal table conversation. Now I am only going to write letters with her so I can blush in private!”
It is important to know why you are disclosing what you are disclosing. That is, don’t let self-disclosure become an end in itself. As we talked earlier, if you disclose to others, they will tend to reciprocate. If this mutuality does not develop, then self-disclosure is not being done in an appropriate way. Without a doubt, relationships are more effective if self-disclosure is mutual.                                                                          
                                                                                                                               "  Courtesy to

The main difference between the results of Arthur Aron’s experiment and that of  the conversation of the blushing woman is that the circumstances for the blushing woman violated the breadth, depth, and situation under which the disclosure was made. I don’t actually know the blushing woman so I can’t say if I think she is a good person to talk intimately with. Perhaps she is not a good “target person”. I think one of the most important lessons from reading the second article is that, “It is important to know why you are disclosing what you are disclosing”. In other words, if you are going to self-disclose about something, make it relevant to the situation/ conversation topic and be mindful of the amount of depth you disclose. Making a topic relevant in a conversation can be very simple. When one conversation topic seems to be low on fuel, simply pose a question that allows you to talk about the topic of what you want to disclose. For example, “You know, there are many times where I feel…” or “Have you ever…”. For the breadth and depth we disclose, the thoughts we have that are dark and feel a bit inappropriate to disclose probably are until there is more comfort and familiarity in the relationship. It’s important to trust our gut instinct. If we feel something may be too over-bearing to disclose currently, it may very well be. But at the same time, it’s important to be able to decipher the difference between inappropriate disclosure for the time being, and that of fear of intimacy. Fear of intimacy stops us from disclosing enough while a feeling of over-bearing self-disclosure can scare the other person off completely. I actually have a story to tell about that. 

Back in 7th grade I had pre-algebra class during 6th period. Back then, I didn’t initiate conversations with attractive girls and even if they did say something to me, my brain locked up to the point and I would have trouble continuing the conversation. I would simply respond to their question, become self-conscious, and felt deep down that they wanted nothing to do with me. My image of how I looked with glasses was one of the main causes for my low self esteem and self-consciousness. It got to the point where I was not wearing my glasses at school in 6th grade, but that’s a story for another day. Point being, I was not good with girls even though I liked girls. Close to about a month left of 7th grade, the teacher had a seating change and I ended up sitting next to a not so attractive Indian girl on the very side of the room. The desks were separate from the rows of desks where the majority of other students sat so it was only my desk and hers side by side. Every day as I entered the pre-algebra classroom, and put down my bag, I would walk over to the shelf to get the textbooks since we needed them each class. Since our two tables were separate from others, I thought I would just get two books so she wouldn’t need to make a trip. I did it out of pure thoughtfulness, nothing else. We talked a bit every class, usually about the math problems, homework, and quizzes or tests. If she asked for help on a math problem I would show her how to do it, assuming I knew how. Then on the second to last day of school, I was excited to get school over with, just as anybody else. I was just about to sit down in my chair when she hands me an envelope and tells me to open it when I get home. To be honest, I really did not know what it was. The idea that it could be a note about something personal crossed my mind, but I felt like we did not have anything going on. I truly thought the envelope was more likely to have money inside than contain something personal. Without thinking too much about it, I just stuck the envelope in my backpack and zipped it up. Being the second to last day, we didn’t have anything to do so I went to hang out with a “friend” of mine at the time- I quote the word friend because he is no longer someone I would get involved with nowadays. The thought of what was in the envelope crossed my mind several times when I was sitting there as my friend talked to others. The more I thought about it, the more I felt the envelope contained something personal. Perhaps a little too personal. When I got home, I closed the door to my room, opened my bag and took out the envelope. I was curious but also a little nervous what I would find inside. I opened it up and I took out a letter. The letter was folded into thirds so I opened it up. I read it. I was shocked and surprised- although I probably saw it coming, the more I thought about it. My eyes just stared looking at the letter in my hands. I just could not believe it as I read it again. There was no laughing, no smile on my face. My eyebrows were furrowed. I felt like the hairs on my skin were standing up. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but she confessed she had a lot of feelings for me. She mentioned how nice I was and how she hoped that I would not reject her as she said he had been hurt many times in the past. She gave me her gmail, wanting me to stay in touch with her. The letter was written neatly. I could tell she had taken the time to write the letter. I could tell my hands were close to shaking as when there is anxiety during a presentation. I was terrified. Then the thought of having to see her again on the very last day of school terrorized my mind. Luckily I was able to convince my mom with the help of my brother that it wasn’t necessary to go to school on the last day because no one did anything. 

Thinking back on what happened, it’s obvious to me that she must have really felt touched by my small acts of kindness. She probably really wanted me to know how she felt and hoped I reciprocated those feelings. What she did took courage and was vulnerable. In a sense, I took the coward’s way out. I never emailed her to tell her what I thought, and did not have a class with her until junior year of high school. In the few times where we were members of the same group for a project in Spanish class junior year, it still felt a bit awkward even though more than three years had gone by. When I did have to talk to her, I treated it as if she had never given me that letter. Plus, she did not seem to have those same feelings for me anymore which made the times when we were members of the same group less awkward. I know I probably made her feel very hurt by not responding through email after she handed me that envelope. I hope karma doesn’t come back to bite me on that one. Through this lesson, I’ve come to learn an important lesson that I would eventually corroborate from studying programs of dating gurus. You must not, must not reveal your feelings for someone until you can say with a great amount of certainty, that what you feel in the relationship is at least reciprocated to a strong degree by the other. If she has no idea that you like her, and you confess your feelings, it will scare her away for good, and vice versa as gender doesn't matter. It is a guaranteed way to nail the coffin shut. Now if she does like you back, well then you got something going then. The amount of self-disclosure depends on the situation. If there is relevance to the situation, whether naturally or intentionally brought up, self-disclosure is more appropriate as demonstrated by Arthur Aron’s “fast friends” experiment. When there is meaning to bring up some self-disclosure, it won’t be perceived as weird. With strangers or the very beginning of a relationship, do not express how much you love them, if you do, and do not verbally or nonverbally communicate neediness and a need for their commitment. When strong feelings such as love are not reciprocated by both sides, confessing them is equivalent to playing with fire and dynamite.