Can asking questions make you fall in love with someone and fill The Love Bucket? Apparently, YES! But they have to be the right questions.
These 36 questions are based on a study of interpersonal closeness by the psychologist Arthur Aron and others to explore whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions.
The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote from the study, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.
The 36 questions takes about 45 minutes to discuss. The study that was conducted in 1997 is broken up into three sets of questions, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.
In addition to the 36 questions, the experience of “eye-gazing” can be disarming and create a bond. It you try this for four minutes — staring into each other’s eyes consistently — this will bring up emotions including fear and vulnerability but as you pass the two minute mark the connection grows. Try this after you’ve gone through the 36 questions to deepen your tie.
Take turns answering each question. The term partner is used in the question set and this can be done with dating couples, married couples, and new romantic interests.
Set I Questions that make couples fall deeply in love
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. 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?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Set II Questions that make couples fall deeply in love
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
Set III Questions that make couples fall deeply in love
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “
26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. 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.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. 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?
34. 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?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. 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.
These questions have gone viral numerous times. This year it began early and again around Valentine’s Day when love is on everyone’s mind. The psychologist Arthur Aron succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory more than 20 years ago at SUNY University at Stony Brook and this study is still getting play today.