In any relationship, romantic or otherwise, connection is one of the things we seem to look for. Sometimes, we only realize that after experiencing the joy of meeting someone whose vibe perfectly matches ours.
The time frame for us to get close to someone typically varies. It may take years, days, or even just hours! But what if there’s a hack to get close to someone faster?
While doing research for graduate school, I chanced upon the academic paper The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings (Aron et al., 1997) that became the basis for several articles I read in the past, featuring the 36 questions that “make people fall in love.”
Upon reading the whole piece, I discovered that the questions form part of an experiment to induce interpersonal closeness and are applicable to any kind of relationship. Apparently, the viral closeness-generating questions were more effective than another set of 36 ones done for small talk.
I believe that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in front of someone with whom we share personal information will create intimacy. We also get to zoom in on a person’s core when someone opens up and lets the guard down. There is implied trust that comes with self-disclosure.
When you are ready, you may want to use the 3 sets (with a total of 36) of questions that aim to get you close or closer to someone. Keep the list handy in case you get a date this coming Valentine’s Day. Here you go:
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 4 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.
Let the author know your thoughts. Send Kate an email at [email protected].
(Source: Aron, A., Melinat, E., Aron, E. N., Vallone, R. D., & Bator, R. J. (1997). The experimental generation of interpersonal closeness: A procedure and some preliminary findings. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 23(4), 363-377).