June 15, 2020

A Beautifully Intimate way to use those Famous 36 Questions.

Can we fall in love simply by following directions?

Yes! They worked for me.

Psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron’s 36 questions for couples to fall in love went wild in 2015. A New York Times Modern Love essay had shared that his directions, when asked on a first date, led to love and a marriage.

Could it be that easy?

If the strangers in Dr. Aron’s original lab experiment and the two in the essay fell in love, imagine how many relationships and marriages have formed since then. Elephant Journal’s article covering the questions has had over 430.2 thousand reads alone. That’s a lot of love.

When a friend spoke about this experiment recently, I looked up the original article. In it the author shared, “I liked learning about myself through my answers, but I liked learning things about him even more.” Considering I was alone at a computer, I began reading questions and answering the first few for fun. It turned into quite the writing experience. Eventually, I finished all 36.

Dr. Aron’s research focused on creating closeness by exploring how we incorporate others into our sense of self. However, what if we haven’t gauged that lately? Through the series of questions, we may uncover, rediscover, and become more intimate with another and/or ourselves.

In a time of life where the focus is often everywhere else but on myself, taking myself on “a date” was a gift. I’d missed me. When it was all over, I had opened up, trusted my heart, and felt the quiet calm of…love.

Whether in a relationship or not, maybe give them a try for yourself.

Fall in Love by Answering these 36 questions:

Notes: Substitute the word “partner” for “yourself.” Talk or write as if you are the stranger. If it doesn’t work, skip that question. No one is watching. And by all means, if you have a partner or a stranger you’d like to share this with, answer all of them together.

Whatever way you choose, give the experiment a try, and share how it goes in the comments below. 

Set I

  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?

Bonus—on maitri:

Set II

  1. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
  2. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
  3. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
  4. What do you value most in a friendship?
  5. What is your most treasured memory?
  6. What is your most terrible memory?
  7. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
  8. What does friendship mean to you?
  9. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
  10. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
  11. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
  12. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Bonus—on being your own best friend:


  1. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling…”
  2. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
  3. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
  4. 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.
  5. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
  6. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
  7. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
  8. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
  9. 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?
  10. 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?
  11. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
  12. 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—”Things I wish I knew when I was 22″:

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and openhearted vision of people who embrace life.” ~ John Lennon


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