The Occidental’s 36 Questions That Lead to Love … at Occidental

Illustration courtesy of Margot Heron

The following is based on a 1997 study by psychologist Arthur Aron that examined whether the intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by answering a specific set of 36 personal questions. The questions were referenced in a 2015 New York Times Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This” by Megan Catron and it sparked follow-up articles and a mobile app and countless readers tried it for themselves.

So if your lonely heart aches just a little more around the holiday season, grab a stranger by the heartstrings, find the last sunny bench on the Academic Quad and stare into each other’s eyes while asking the below questions in the following order. Each set is intended to become increasingly probing, stimulating closeness, intimacy and ultimately love. The rumored “Oxy Statistic” estimates that approximately 50–60 percent of Occidental couples get married, so you could very well be setting yourself up with your life partner … ’tis the season!

Set I

  1. Where’s your favorite and least favorite spot to study in the library and why?
  2. What’s your pasta order?
  3. Do you ever rehearse your pasta and/or stir fry order while in line for said pasta and/or stir fry?
  4. When’s the last time you visited the Hameetman Career Center? Why?
  5. Describe your relationship with your most consistent Sandwich Person at the sandwich bar.
  6. What do you think about when you’re walking through the Quad? Do you walk through the Quad? Or do you walk Quad-Adjacent?
  7. Which bathroom on campus do you use the most and why?
  8. Describe your caffeine self-medication routine throughout the day.
  9. Do you ask for room in your cold brew?
  10. What do you really think about eco-clamshells?
  11. Do you think the Green Bean drink “Skotchaim” is pronounced Scotch-HIME or SCŌATCH-hime? Do you know what the “Skotchaim” is?
  12. Do you know what the Green Bean drink “To Veitch Their Own” is?

Set II

  1. Did you love or hate O-Team? Why?
  2. How long did you continue saying hi to your O-Team group for?
  3. Tell me about the hottest night in your first-year dorm.
  4. What is the criteria for you in going up to a dog owner on the quad and petting their dog versus admiring from a distance?
  5. What’s the most bizarre/scary/upsetting thing you’ve witnessed an Occidental squirrel do?
  6. How many Oxy IDs have you gone through so far?
  7. Describe your relationship with your one-night stands on campus.
  8. FEAST magazine or FEAST garden?
  9. Do you smile at the circ-desk operator when you walk into the library? Always?
  10. Name your most frequented local taco truck.
  11. Describe your relationship with Jaime from the Coffee Cart. If you know, you know.
  12. Have you ever been to a party at ATO? If you went, how did you feel about this decision?


  1. Do you ever interact with your first-year roommate?
  2. If you were an academic building on campus, which one would you be?
  3. Have you ever read an issue of The Occidental? I’m talking front-to-back.
  4. How often did you cry your first semester or subsequent semesters and where did you go to do this?
  5. Has your performance in a class ever left you exceptionally disappointed in yourself? In what way?
  6. What late night snack are you most excited to see at the Cooler? Which is the most disappointing?
  7. It’s 1 a.m. on a Friday night. Your friend texts you: “There are mac-n-cheese bites at the Cooler.” What do you do?
  8. When was the last time you went to a football game at Occidental? How was that for you?
  9. If you were a citation style, what citation style would you be?
  10. Have you ever had a sex dream and/or fantasized about a professor? Which one?
  11. Describe your craziest hook-up story.
  12. F***, Marry, Kill: Foucault, Fanon, Freud.

If you actually want to fall in love, try the real questions here.

Maeve Barry (senior), a producer for The Occidental’s podcast show FollowUp, contributed to this article.