Mandy Len Catron’s essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” went viral after being published in the New York Times Modern Love column in 2014. In it, she details a study in which couples sit face to face, asking and answering progressively more personal questions. Six months after the study, two participants were married.
Catron tried the questions out with an attractive acquaintance named Mark, and lo and behold, they are now a couple. (She is the first to admit, in the last paragraph of the essay, that love didn’t happen to them because of the questions—they chose to be together.)
Now Catron is tackling the many facets of love in a book that builds upon her famous essay.
In truth, the book’s name is a bit of a misnomer. Catron, a professor in British Columbia, is not making the case, as the title suggests, that love is either random or formulaic. Rather, she examines what science tells us about the elements of lasting love, and explores why her Appalachian grandparents stayed married for life while her parents divorced after so many seemingly happy years and her own long-term relationship (pre-Mark) slowly crumbled.
She writes, “Deciding to break up, I thought, was like learning a star had burned out in a distant galaxy, even though you can still see it in the sky: You know something has irrevocably changed, but your senses suggest otherwise.”
Catron melds science and emotion beautifully into a thoughtful and thought-provoking meditation on the most universal topic.