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Can These 36 Questions Actually Lead to Love?

The 36 questions to fall in love were first formulated with the aim of speeding up the creation of intimacy between two strangers, but does it actually work? That’s what I tried to find out.


Love & Basketball, 2000 ©

Developed by psychologist Arthur Aron, the 36 questions to fall in love are a series of questions that progressively become more personal and intimate. Intrigued, I decided to put this to the test– but with my own spin.


While the list of questions may have been created with romantic love in mind, I strongly believe love can be found in all forms. This is why, with an open mind and no expectations, I carried out this experiment with both my best friend and a stranger to see the effects of these questions on intimacy and relationship-building overall, and here's what I found...



THE BEST FRIEND


I didn’t think it was possible to become any closer to my best friend than I already was. But I was wrong. 36 questions later, and our relationship grew stronger than ever. 


For Question 17, instead of sharing our most treasured memory, we actually shared five of them... which resulted in us bursting into tears. Happy tears, thankfully. So, for Question 18, we thought it would only be fair if we also shared five terrible memories instead of just one. Alas, we thought we cried a lot during question 17, but we were not prepared for how much more we were about to cry during Question 18.


In hindsight, that was the turning point. Questions 17, 18, and the ones that followed ended up being incredibly eye-opening. Because even for ride-or-die best friends, there is still much left for us to discover and still much room for more love– a love that is truly unique and beautiful.



THE STRANGER


Question 18 was the point I realized we had entered into vulnerable territory. I think we had already crossed into it a couple questions back without even noticing, but it wasn’t until I was recounting one of my most gut-wrenching memories that I realized I was sharing such intimate and personal details of my life that I normally wouldn’t share in a first, second, or even third encounter. At the accelerated rate in which I was revealing personal information, I thought I would be more uncomfortable than I actually was. But in fact, I was completely at ease even though I was sharing some of my innermost thoughts.


By the end of the 36 questions, I found myself in the presence of someone I felt very comfortable and close with. I now know how this stranger operates, how their mind works, the way they treat their loved ones, and how they carry themselves in relationships– both romantically and platonically. I also learned their values, passions, and so much more. In such a short time, I truly got to see the person behind the face. 


… We are no longer strangers.


THE FINDINGS


Even though the intended use for the 36 questions to fall in love is to bring couples together, I believe it can strengthen any relationship. Because to whomever you’re asking these questions to—whether it’s a complete stranger, a close friend, a family member, or anyone else—the results can be worthwhile. 


As the questions get more personal, typically so do the answers, so you can get to know your partner on a deeper level. But there’s a certain vulnerability you must be comfortable with. From what I can tell, the questions are truly only maximized if you accept the fact that your aim is not to impress or present to your best self, but instead to present your true self. To allow yourself to be open, with a complete stranger as well as yourself, takes a level of courage and strength that often does not come easy. But if you allow yourself to do so, perhaps you can form a genuine, long-lasting connection.


So, would I say these 36 questions actually lead to love? In a way, it can. Going from strangers to lovers after a mere 36 questions is unlikely, but I think it creates a strong foundation that could eventually lead to love. The questions allow you to learn a lot about your partner (and possibly even yourself) and work to build intimacy, trust, and mutual understanding. That being said, there’s no guarantee it’ll work for everyone. Maybe you and your partner just don’t align. But maybe you and your partner may actually fall in love. Who knows? I guess you’ll just have to try it out and see for yourself:



THE 36 QUESTIONS


  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?

  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?

  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.

BONUS. After answering all the questions, end off by looking into your partner’s eyes for four minutes in silence.

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