36 Questions to Get You Closer to Someone. Or Even Fall in Love.
Updated: Feb 20, 2022
Skip the small talk, and ask these questions instead.
This activity has a reputation of making people fall in love.
Yes I know, the title of this article and this falling in love thing sounds trashy. Yet, this is a Psychology Blog and I promise you there is research behind this OKAY?
Anyway, to start with an obvious point - to get closer to someone else, we need to be willing to open up ourselves. We need to find some way to get to know them at a deeper level. Likewise, they need to know who we really are inside too.
However, how many times have our first dates been just a series of small-talk? Namely, what is your work, hobbies, how many family members do you have, your education blah blah.
It's going to take a while before the both of you really open up.
That said, opening up to someone new isn't always easy.
We might fear that we are coming on too strongly or even embarrass ourselves. For example, how would I know what pace the other person wants to take this? Or, what if I'm asking too many invasive questions?
Sometimes, we also don't know how much we should reveal about ourselves. For example, imagine if I did this on a first date:
Hmm, she's been rather quiet. Maybe I'll tell her about that time I did a poop in the office toilet but didn't realise there was no toilet paper or bidet. So I had to use my hands to clean my butt instead, and wash them off with multiple flushes. Gosh, the smell on my hands afterwards! Okay, this will definitely make her laugh. Let's tell her this story...
NOT a true story, but yes friends, there are times when it's really TMI okay?
This 36-questions activity is a good way to encourage both parties to open up at the same pace as each other, reducing the likelihood that sharing will feel one-sided.
So if you're looking for a way to get closer to someone - whether it is you're meeting on a first date or if you're still at the start of dating - read on.
These 36-Questions are from a research study that explored how to increase closeness amongst unacquainted participants.
Entirely new strangers were matched up into pairs. Before the activity, they were each surveyed on the number of people they felt close to in their lives and how "close" each relationship was.
Next, half of all participants were given the 36 Questions to ask each other during a 45-min activity session, while another half were given a set of superficial, small-talk questions, like "What do you do for work".
The results? After 45 minutes, they found that the participants who did the 36- Questions activity ended up feeling closer to the stranger they were matched up with.
Boringggg. How predictable. Wait, but that's not all.
Remarkably, their feelings of closeness following the conversation matched the level of closeness (on average) that they report to feel in their closest relationships in real-life!
Now, that is a finding. Bam!
Just a mere 45-mins of doing this activity with someone can help you get closer them, or at least as close as to how they feel in the best relationships in their lives.
So, are you ready to jump on the love train?
This 36-question activity isn't just for new couples either.
You can also try it out with anyone who you'd like to become closer with.
Even if it's someone you know quite well already, like that husband or wife you've been married to for two decades, or that work friend you go out for drinks with on Fridays, it will still help you get closer to them.
That said, do make sure that both you and that person are comfortable sharing personal thoughts and feelings with each other.
You can't force this on them!
On the note of that work friend, making new friends in adulthood can be challenging too. We are stuck with the usual case of small-talk or shop-talk in most social situations. Until that barrier is broken, it's difficult to really connect deeply with people.
These 36-questions can help by initiating "reciprocal self-disclosure" - that is, to reveal increasingly personal information about yourself to another person, as they do the same with you.
So find that person, lock in at least 45-minutes and try this out.
Practice Time: 36-Questions to Increase Closeness.
There are 3 sets of 12 questions below, with each set increasing in the level of self-disclosure.
Set 1 is the least self-disclosing, and Set 3 requires the most self-disclosure.
Follow these 5 steps:
Find a time when you and that person have at least 45 minutes free and are able to meet in person.
For 15 minutes, take turns asking one another the questions in Set I below. Each person should answer each question, but in an alternating order, so that a different person goes first each time.
After 15 minutes, move on to Set II, even if you haven’t yet finished the Set I questions. Then spend 15 minutes on Set II, following the same system.
The 15-minute periods ensure that you spend an equivalent amount of time at each level of self-disclosure.
Finally move on to Set 3 - and you're done!
36-Questions to Increase Closeness
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?
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
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?
Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
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?
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?
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?
What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
What do you value most in a friendship?
What is your most treasured memory?
What is your most terrible memory?
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?
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.
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?
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…”
If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for them 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.
Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
Tell your partner something that you like about them [already].
What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
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?
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 they might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
Thanks for reading Kaya Toast for the Soul! Hope this helps bring you closer to someone new! If you'd like to ask me any of these questions, do so in the comments :) Be warned though, I'll ask you a question back!