Have you heard that you can fall in love with a stranger if you each answer the 36 questions below?
With these questions, you open up, show your vulnerabilities and be truly honest with someone you have just met. The idea is that it is uncomfortable to open up to people in vulnerable ways, and by doing so, you create a greater sense of closeness.
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Where Did These Ultimate Love Questions Come From?
Arthur Aron originally developed these 36 questions in his 1997 study The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings.
The goal in Arthur’s study was to generate closeness between people, not necessarily to create romantic relationships. Willing participants in a University psychology class opted to participate in the study.
People were matched randomly with others they didn’t know in the class with a mixture of cross-sex, all-women pairings. Whether the people were introverts or extroverts was also noted.
Original Closeness Study Findings
As a comparison, 296 randomly selected students were asked to rate their “closest, deepest, most involved and intimate relationship” and an average score of how people judge the closeness of their relationships in their lives. The average result was 4.65.
After 45 minutes to an hour of going through the closeness-generating questions, students were asked to rate their closeness level from ‘not at all‘ to ‘extremely close.’ The average rating was 4.0.
These results indicate that the questions may be able to create feelings of closeness, similar to the average rated relationships in people’s lives. After the study, 57% of the pairs had at least one conversation, 35% had done something together, and 37% had sat together in class.
Falling in Love Using the 36 Questions
Mandy Le Catron became very intrigued after she came across this study while researching for a book on love stories. She had also heard about a couple that had fallen in love and gotten married after going through the questions. She was skeptical but curious and intrigued, so she decided to give it a go.
In January 2015 Mandy wrote an article about falling in love after trying Arthur Arons questions with her date. The article is called “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This.” She submitted it to the New York Times, and it went viral.
If you want to watch her TED talk about the whole experience, check it out below.
Using These Questions To Fall In Love With Yourself
I have been living overseas for the past 20 months in strange and beautiful, yet very distant countries. Well, let’s be honest; every country is strange and distant from New Zealand. I came back home just before Christmas to enjoy summer here, spend time with my family and catch up with friends.
Mum wants me to move home. Her plan is that while I’m home, I will find a man to settle down with so I don’t run off back overseas. So when she came across Mandy’s TED talk, she sent it to me right away.
Curious, Mum and I read through the list and realized neither of us could answer most of these questions for ourselves. How could I answer these with the pressure of a date leaning behind me?
I’m also not 100% sure all of these are appropriate for a first date take question number 33 for example, “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?” If someone asked me that on a date my response would probably be “Wishing I had told someone where I was tonight and who I was with…” Then slowly push my food away, head to the bathroom and climb out the window.
As someone who has long struggled with self-esteem issues these questions got me thinking… Instead of doing them with someone else, could they be used to first fall in love with yourself?
How These Journal Prompts Changed My Life
I completed these questions in my journal over the span of a week. Some of them are quite quick and others took some deep contemplation.
The most life-changing question for me was #14 “Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?” While I have a thousand answers to this, “becoming David Attenborough,” didn’t seem very feasible. So I decided to take a different tact to make my answer about something I could realistically do this year.
What came out was my love of Yoga and how I want to learn more about it. I wrote about doing a Yoga Teacher Training course. I have been held back from this for many years because I felt my personal practice wasn’t deep enough, I wasn’t flexible enough, I wasn’t fit enough, etc. But writing through it I realized these weren’t ‘real’ reasons not to do it.
On top of that, I was in a really low place at the start of the year. I had just come home from 20 months of travels, something I wasn’t ready for. I am turning 30 in October eeeek. Newly single from a long-term relationship. Broke and wasn’t enjoying my job at all. In January, I didn’t really have anything to look forward to in 2020.
Finding a new career path in Yoga
Working through these journal prompts really helped me find some direction in my life and find something to work towards. I set out on a quest to find a Yoga Teacher Training course that suited me, and as writing this in May, I am well-underway to becoming certified. I wasn’t sure at the start if I would do it just for me or to teach, but it turns out I love teaching. So watch this space. ????
At the time, I never would have thought that a random week-long journaling exercise like this would have set me off on a new career path. I have loved learning about all the philosophy behind yoga. I have discovered more about myself and life than I could have imagined in January. All thanks to these 36 self-discovery questions.
The Fall in Love With Yourself Challenge
Below is a list of the 36 questions. Some of them are quite in-depth, so don’t feel like you need to get through all of them or even one set in one go.
I have changed a few from the original set so they focus on yourself rather than your date and marked those with an asterisk. If you are curious about the original list you can find it at 36questionsinlove.com.
Get your diary or journal out, sit down with yourself, and answer each question for yourself. Then simply see what comes out and get to know yourself better.
Once you are done, it would be amazing if you came back to this article and commented on your experiences. Did these closeness-generating questions help you fall in love with yourself? Were they challenging for you, or do you know yourself well?
Closeness-Generating Questions Set 1
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 love about yourself.
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. Reflect on the key defining events of your life.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Closeness-Generating Questions Set 2
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. Write five positive characteristics you see in yourself.
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?
Closeness-Generating Questions Set 3
*25. Make three true statements about how you are feel about your life.
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 yourself what you like about yourself; be very honest. Talk to yourself as if you were a stranger meeting you for the very first time.
*29. Share an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
*31. Tell yourself something that you like about your body and your personality.
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. Write down a personal problem and brainstorm how you can handle it. Reflect on how you are feeling about this problem.
How many of these questions were you able to answer on the spot?
Did you enjoy going through them, or did it make you uncomfortable?
Did these questions help you to fall in love with yourself more?
Maybe now that you are more in love with yourself, you can use them on friends, lovers, or a date to see if you can generate some more “closest, deepest, most involved and intimate relationships” in your life.