Solace in Strangers: Making Friends with Anyone


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On Feb. 17 a group of around 50 5C students all entered new relationships. Unlike the tone of the rest of the week, however, these bonds were not romantic. The 5C Center for Collaborative Creativity—better known as The Hive—hosted an event titled “36 Questions to Make Friends with Anyone,” which invited students to open themselves up to new friendships. The program was a twist on the “36 Questions that Lead to Love,” which appeared in an article in the New York Times before Valentine’s Day in 2015.

At the workshop, students were asked the questions that, based on social psychologist’s Arthur Aron’s research, encourage closeness in interpersonal relationships, and may accelerate the process of falling in love. Aron concluded that strangers could become close quickly through a series of specific personal questions. He argues that vulnerability, rather than time spent together, creates intimacy.

The Hive decided to try out Aron’s theory. They paired students up and asked them to talk to each other for one hour. After each pair completed the 36 questions, the group joined together to discuss the experience.

“Some of the questions were kind of surprising,” Emilia Hagen SC’ 18 said. “It was interesting what we ended up talking about from what we started with; it ended up revealing a lot.” The group concluded that students should be able to be more vulnerable with strangers and trust that they will find common ground. 

Kevin Eggert PZ ’17 expressed that through this event he came to value the power of speaking intimately with strangers. “Even if they are a random person you just met, you can find commonalities,” he said. “It’s ok to be vulnerable—a lot of time people don’t want to cry, they don’t want to look vulnerable, but it’s OK. You learn that everyone has their high and lows. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known somebody; you can get to know somebody better in an hour than a year.”

Estela Sanchez PO ’17, a member of The Hive’s student staff who helped organize the event, spoke about how this event reinforced the original purpose of the Hive. “It’s been on our radar since the beginning of the Hive. The Hive is so great because it gets people together from different colleges and and backgrounds that otherwise wouldn’t come together. We help engage students and make them comfortable taking risks. That’s what collaborative creativity is … putting yourself out there and giving student space to do that.” 

Turns out, the 36 questions that supposedly spark love spark friendship as well. 

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