Like it or not, the season of love is beginning! Already the stores are filled with cheesy red-and-pink Valentine-related stuff. Why not use this Valentine’s fluff as a nudge to forge deeper and more meaningful relationships? To that end, here’s a way to add something new to date night — or just a night out with a friend.
Below are the 36 questions that researcher Arthur Aron and his colleagues used in the lab to create profound feelings of being in love. The questions lead us to like each other more by engaging us in gradually escalating back-and-forth “personal self-disclosure.”
The original list had three parts, each part upping the vulnerability quotient. These questions are so good I didn’t want to use them all up in a single date-night, so I split them up, using two questions from each of Aron’s three different sections.
Don’t forget: How you respond when your partner is answering these questions is important. (Hint: turn your phone off and pay attention.)
Date Night 1
- 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?
- 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?
- 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 … “
Date Night 2
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- 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.
Date Night 3
- 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?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
Date Night 4
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your partner [appear to] have in common.
- 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?
- Tell your partner something that you like about them.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
Date Night 5
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
Date Night 6
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.