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It's Nice to Hear You

It's Nice to Hear You

Author: Yves D. Ropper, Heather Li

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A story about human connection told through a voice-forward matchmaking experiment. The twist: no names, no direct contact, no pictures. Over 30 days, matched pairs exchange 1 voice memo a day with each other. This genre-bending series has the intimacy of a personal memoir, suspense from a reality TV dating show, and insights from an interview show. Through 6 episodes, I share 6 lessons I learned from this experience, told 1 pair at a time.  Yes, some pairs do end up in a relationship afterwards. Eavesdrop into their private conversations and hear how these strangers fall into like, reciprocate vulnerability, and develop intimacy.

We all want to be heard, but we forgot how to listen. This is what human connection sounds like.
Check out itsnicetohearyou.com and follow on Instagram @itsnicetohearyou.
7 Episodes
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Can the power of just hearing someone’s voice lead to a deeper connection? This is the question I obsessed over for most of 2020. I was laid off, single, and quarantining alone in New York City. In search of human connection, I decided to create an anonymous matchmaking experiment that unexpectedly became a year-long journey, which changed my life. This is not a love story that ends in a happily ever after, but a hopeful story around resilience that celebrates every ever after. To learn more: @itsnicetohearyou on Instagram and itsnicicetohearyou.com.
YVES & HEATHER: A lesson on reflection. The king asked, what is the hardest thing to look at? Meet me, the matchmaker and host, Yves D. Ropper. In March 2020, I was laid off and quarantining alone in a 1 bedroom apartment in Manhattan. In search of connection, I create an anonymous matchmaking experiment on a whim. The twist - no pictures, no names, no direct contact. They can only get to know each other by exchanging 1 voice memo a day, for 30 days. I solicit 100 strangers to participate and within just a couple days, people started sending 40 minute long voice memos to their matches. From behind the scenes, I listened to my participants. By the end of my experiment, I collected 100+ hours of audio from their voice memos. What I heard was empathy, acceptance, and real intimacy. They are all strangers to me, yet after listening to their voices, I feel connected to them. This story is as much about the experiment, its participants, and how it forced me to see myself. Listen to how Yves met Heather.  3 things to explore after this: 1. Essay by Mandy Len Catron for the Modern Love column in the New York Times - “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/style/modern-love-to-fall-in-love-with-anyone-do-this.html 2. Ted talk by Helen Fisher on the biochemical foundations behind love - “Why We Love, Why We Cheat” (23 min video) https://www.ted.com/talks/helen_fisher_why_we_love_why_we_cheat 3. The research paper behind the 36 questions by Professor Arthur Aron and colleagues - “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0146167297234003
ISABELLE & BRIAN: A lesson on compatibility. To be compatible with someone, how important is it to have things in common? Brian is from Montana and graduated from the Naval Academy. Isabelle lives in Atlanta and loves her dog more than anything in the world. Her favorite food is potatoes. He hates potatoes in every form. They “fall into like” within a couple days of exchanging voice memos. Over 30 days, Isabelle and Brian develop a deep connection, confess secrets, and are excited to finally meet each other in person and go on a real date after the experiment ends. Find out what I learn about compatibility from Isabelle and Brian.  3 things to explore after this: 1. Founder of OK Cupid, Christian Rudder, shares what online dating data tells us about who we are - Presentation for Talks at Google (54 min video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YX1gTVa1N78 2. Behavioral Signals CEO Raj Gujral on emotion detection through voice - Interview with Voice Tech Podcast 3. Professor Paul Eastwick on ideal partner preference matching - “Negligible Evidence that People Desire Partners Who Uniquely Fit their Ideals” in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology https://static1.squarespace.com/static/504114b1e4b0b97fe5a520af/t/5e4435dadb3f8f61938ad51f/1581528543753/SparksJESP_Final.pdf
KATIE & ROBERT: A lesson on acceptance. Would you want to change the worst parts of you if it required sacrificing the best parts of you? Katie is a dreamer and entrepreneur. Robert has a phd in computer science and works in tech. They both happen to be 28 and live in San Francisco. Over the 30 days, they unravel the layers and flavors of each other. Through their exchanges, you get to hear Katie’s emotionality surface. Robert shares things that are uncomfortable to say out loud and even more so to record. They reframe each other’s flaws and permission boringness to happen. This is what acceptance sounds like and what understanding feels like. Again, there is a surprise at the end (not that one you are thinking of if you already listened to ep 2). 3 things to explore after this: 1. School of Life on Attachment Style (6 min video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s9ACDMcpjA 2. Social science experts on dating apps - “A Psychologist’s Guide to Online Dating” in The Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/12/a-psychologists-guide-to-online-dating/282225/ 3. Salon London’s exploration of new book on the psychology of boredom - Out of My Skull by James Danckert and John D Eastwood (1 hr video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs2rUS94R4Y
Ep 4. The V Word(s)

Ep 4. The V Word(s)

2021-04-1040:51

XENA & GRAHAM: A lesson on vulnerability. What is the difference between being open and being vulnerable? Xena is an Ivy-league educated consultant-turned-entrepreneur in NYC. Graham works for a non-profit and lives in Denver. No longer dating for sport and tired of swipe culture, they are both looking for a life partner. Someone to hold hands with, cook dinners with, and just be yourself with. Our voices betray us. We can sense when someone is not being truly vulnerable. Their conversations over 30 days show us what true vulnerability can unlock. Feeling inspired by the unfolding of Graham and Xena’s connection, I also get vulnerable and share a confession with you, dear listener.  3 things to explore after this: 1. Brene Brown’s Ted talk on Vulnerability - “The Power of Vulnerability” (20 min video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o&t=250s 2. Esther Perel’s Ted talk on Infidelity - “Rethinking Infidelity… a talk for anyone who has ever loved” (21 min video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2AUat93a8Q&t=2s 3. What does our vocal body language say about what we think and how we feel? Research paper from MIT Media Laboratory - “Voices of Attraction” https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/x/files/tech-reports/TR-584.pdf
Ep 5. The Origin Story

Ep 5. The Origin Story

2021-04-2234:00

HEATHER & CHESTER: A lesson on communication. If we understand all the words, how can we still speak past each other? Meet Chester, the guy who sent me voice memos and inspired my fascination with voice. We all want to be heard, but we forgot how to listen. Yet, listening can misguide us if we just hear what we want to hear. I finally learn about my love language. Listening to my participants be so forthcoming with each other and share words of affection inspire me to communicate better. And I try, starting with Chester.  3 things to explore after this: 1. Take the 5 love languages quiz https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/singles-quiz/ 2. Medium article by Sara Ness on relating languages - “The Relating Languages, or Why We Don’t All Just Get Along” https://ness-sara.medium.com/the-relating-languages-or-why-we-dont-all-just-get-along-a523576543a5 3. Psychology research article on online dating by professors Eli Finkel, Paul Eastwick and colleagues - “Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science”  https://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/eli-finkel/documents/2012_FinkelEastwickKarneyReisSprecher_PSPI.pdf
HEATHER & ARTHUR: A lesson on growth. What happened in the end? I debrief with all 3 pairs you met in the previous episodes. Find out if anyone ends up together and meet one more pair. In eavesdropping into the participants of my experiment and in creating this podcast, I gained a new perspective for living. I start dating again, and I meet Arthur. No longer dating to win, I am now dating to grow. I practice these lessons I learned - taking time to experience compatibility, communicating how I feel, recognizing when vulnerability happens and showing up to reciprocate it. Yves D. Ropper Created the experiment, but Heather created this podcast. This is the last episode in season 1. Thank you for listening.  3 things to explore after this: 1. School of Life’s definition of Love https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/what-is-love-2/ 2. Podcast Death Sex & Money on ep 1 of the podcast Constellation Prize. This is the interview that inspired me to do the perfect moments with Arthur. - Interview with Bianca Giaever https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/deathsexmoney/episodes/audio-we-love-fest-constellation-prize 3. NPR Invisibilia’s exploration of Slow Tv and narrative structures - “The Great Narrative Escape” (58 min podcast) https://www.npr.org/2021/05/19/998228413/the-great-narrative-escape
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