More than 20 years ago, psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron successfully made two strangers fall in love by having them ask each other a specific series of 36 questions and then staring into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes.
Believing that the basis of connection is vulnerability, Aron’s questions provoke mutual vulnerability in order to foster closeness. The questions are deep, thoughtful, and expansive. They reveal to another person what usually isn’t revealed until much later in a relationship.
“One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.”
The questions begin simply:
“Would you like to be famous?” “What is Your Perfect Day?” “When did you last sing to yourself?” However, they quickly become more probing: “What is your most treasured memory?,” “Your most terrible memory?,” “Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.”
Much of Dr. Aron’s research focuses on creating “interpersonal closeness.” Interpersonal closeness or interpersonal solidarity is a feeling of closeness between people that develops as a result of shared sentiments, similarities, and intimate behaviors. Aron’s 36 questions manipulate one’s sense of privacy and self-disclosure, provoking vulnerability and allowing two people an entry point into growth and connection.
While the questions were designed to be asked by strangers, they most definitely could be asked between two people in a long term relationship or even at different stages of relationship.
Because we (and our relationships) are constantly changing, we’ll have different answers to the questions as time and experiences allow.
The 36 Questions Website has recently been updated. Designed for mobile, the questions are laid out so you can ask each other easily and then swipe to the next question. Try it out. Then drop me a line or add your comments to this post.
Dr. Arthur Aron’s experiment
I’d love to hear comments on your experience with the questions: How did you feel when asking/answering them? How did your partner feel? Did you feel a sense of closeness? Do you think it hindered or helped your relationship?