Senior Couples Try the 36 Questions That Lead to Love

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Modern Love

In 2015, the writer Mandy Len Catron invited Modern Love readers to join her in an experiment. First, find someone you’d like to know better — ideally, a person you view as a romantic prospect. Then, ask each other a series of increasingly intimate questions and see where the experience takes the two of you.

Ms. Catron couldn’t have known then how many couples would come to credit the questions for their unions, or how many strangers would try, and fail, to connect by using them. But what about those who are pretty sure they already know everything about each other?

We had a group of senior couples try out the questions to see.



Inseparable for one year.

How they met: Ms. King noticed

him making eyes at her in the

medical suite at the Lillian Booth

Actors Home in New Jersey. Mr.

Lionetti, once a hairdresser to

Marilyn Monroe, was admiring

Ms. King’s coiffure. He’s been her

stylist — and closest companion

— ever since.

If you could have either the body

or mind of a 30-year-old, which

would you choose?

LUCILLE The body. No question.

JOSEPH See how shaken up you

got? You would chose the body?


JOSEPH At this stage of my mind,

I would choose the mind.

LUCILLE My mind’s fine.

Tell your partner what you like

about them and be very honest.

LUCILLE When you walk into the

room, I get all passionate. Just

looking at you turns me on. Is

that enough?

JOSEPH It sure is. I feel the same

way. When I see you, I tingle.

LUCILLE You dingle?

JOSEPH I tingle. I’m not going to

tell you where, but I tingle.

Tell your partner something they

did in the past that they might

not realize impressed you.

JOSEPH You invited me into your

own family.

LUCILLE It was your birthday.

JOSEPH But you still didn’t have

to invite me, and Leah didn’t

have to bake me a birthday cake

and have a party.

LUCILLE No, that’s true.

JOSEPH I hardly knew her.

LUCILLE We hardly knew you

and we made you a big birthday


JOSEPH There you go.

LUCILLE Well, you kept telling me

you wish you had a Jewish

family, so for your birthday I

gave you one.

JOSEPH If you will something

hard enough, with all your heart,

and you do it continuously all

your life, whether it takes a year,

two years, 10 years, 20 years, or

50 years, it’s going to happen. I

always wanted a Jewish family.

LUCILLE And you got one.

JOSEPH And it finally happened.

See? I told you.



Married for 50 years.

How they met: Domingo was

introduced to Josefa as a friend

of the family. “I didn’t fall in love

that day, because I saw him as a

friend of my father’s that was

just coming over, you know?”

And yet.

When was the last time you cried

with someone else? Alone?

JOSEFA The last time I cried was

when my daughter thought that

she had a terrible illness, and

thank God that wasn’t the case.

Everything was O.K.

DOMINGO That was also my last


Tell your partner what you like

about him or her. Be very honest.

DOMINGO What I like about you

is the great communication

you’ve had with me the whole

time we’ve been together, and

your patience.

JOSEFA Me too. I’ve had a lot of

surprising moments with you,

and also all of the patience that

you’ve had with me, when I’ve

been sick, that you’ve taken care

of me with your whole heart.

I’ve never felt alone, I’ve always

felt that you are with me, by my




Together for 58 years.

How they met: They worked in

the same building and kept a

cordial relationship until Geraldine

sold Barbara a raincoat —

or better yet, lent one to her. “I

didn’t have the money at that

time, and she said, ‘All right. You

take it, and you can give me the

money when you get it.’” From

there on, they developed a friendship,

then something more.

What would constitute a perfect

day for you?

GERALDINE Laying with my

honey on a rainy day.

BARBARA You didn’t tell them

what I’d be doing.

GERALDINE I wouldn’t care as

long as I was with you.

BARBARA I would have to agree

with that because on rainy days

we’ve made it our business to

clear the house that’s kind of

half straight, and ironing to do.

And no checks to write out

because it means that we’ll be

close to one another. Don’t have

to be making out now. We’d just

be close.

For what in your life do you feel

most grateful?

BARBARA For my loving wife.

And I’m grateful now that I did

not have my breasts removed

because I’m still recovering

from breast cancer. And that you

will be with me for the rest of

my life.

GERALDINE I don’t know how to

put it into words really that I

will always love you. Always,

regardless what