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36 questions that will put your relationship on fast-forward
According to a study by social psychology researcher Arthur Aron at Stony Brook University, asking a stranger 36 tailored questions and holding four minutes of sustained eye contact after is a sure-fire way to fall in love – or, at the very least, greatly accelerate a sense of intimacy among the two of you. The 36 specific questions are sorted into three sets, and each set is developed to grow more personal.
The 36 questions are carefully designed to structure and develop a close relationship among peers by forcing “sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure”. Originally created in 1997, the questions are receiving increased popularity after The New York Times published an article, under its popular “Modern Love” section, by university professor Mandy Len Catron, who personally attempted the experiment with an acquaintance.
…and it works!
Catron herself claimed, “We all have a narrative of ourselves that we offer up to strangers and acquaintances, but Dr. Aron’s questions make it impossible to rely on that narrative. Ours was the kind of accelerated intimacy I remembered from summer camp, staying up all night with a new friend, exchanging the details of our short lives.” And, wonder of wonders: Catron did end up falling in love with said acquaintance, choosing to end off her article by saying, “Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.” Especially interesting is how her experience matches up perfectly to the original experiment’s basis: that close relationships are formed through sustained actions and not by chance.
Forbes, Business Insider, Telegraph, and The Big Bang Theory’s take on it
Catron’s article ended up sparking a huge interest in the set of questions, resulting in its catapulting to reign as the new hot topic of the moment. With its methodology and results widely debated, tested and reported on by a number of other sources, reactions and opinions were as varied as they came, with sources like Forbes, Business Insider and Telegraph weighing in on the subject. Even the hit pop culture sitcom The Big Bang Theory jumped on the bandwagon – in an episode entitled “The Intimacy Acceleration”, two of the lead characters, Penny and Sheldon, agreed to test out the technique. Spoiler alert: they don’t fall in love… but they do manage to grow closer as friends. Pretty cool for an hour-long investment, don’t you think?
How the 36 questions can help you
The study does have the right idea behind it, and definitely fosters the right kind of mindset. Viewing the process of getting closer to another person as a deliberate, conscious choice is an empowering mindset that does away with the “luck” component that most of us fall back on as an excuse. Just think: what if we stopped wondering why person X doesn’t ever seem to take an interest in us, and instead go up to him or her and actively engage them in an open, thoughtful way with the intention of encouraging a personal connection? We know, it’s a pretty novel – and frightening – concept. But why not give it a shot? It seems to have worked for plenty of people around the world, so there has to be some truth behind the phenomenon.
We won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here are the 36 questions that will make you fall in love. All the best!
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
- How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “
- Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
- If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
- Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
- Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
- Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
- Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
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