I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day because the myriad of feelings and reactions the 3 little words, “Happy Valentine’s Day” can stir up deserves to be addressed and, in many cases, mitigated! Especially when a quick search brings up the word lonely as often as love in relation to Valentine’s Day… as well as jaded, grouchy, pressured, side-lined, expectant, commercialized, ridiculous and duty instead of loved, excited and joyful.
So, what if you threw unmet and commercialized expectation out the window and instead tried a simple and easy way to increase connection in your own life?
What if over the course of just 36 questions you could connect (or reconnect) with most anybody?
Here’s your chance!
Originally designed and tested by Arthur Aron of the Interpersonal Relationship Lab at Stony Brook University in New York, these 36 questions that get increasingly more personal are designed to help you open up to someone else at a prescribed pace. Since the initial study in 1997, the questions have proven to help people overcome the fear of over-sharing or embarrassing themselves while simultaneously feeding our innate desire to connect.
While often dubbed, “The 36 Questions to Make Anyone Fall in Love” the questions work with any two people who want to create a closer bond, including friends, family, and acquaintances.
In fact, one of my favorite uses of the questions is when Rudy Mendoz Denton used the 36 questions to help reduce prejudice and break down barriers between strangers. They’ve even been used to help children make friends and with organizations for team building.
Ready to give it a try? Find an hour or so, grab a friend, co-worker, family member or partner and get ready for a heart-to-heart conversation that is sure to include laughter, increased understanding, and new insights.
Trading off who goes first, have each person ask and answer each question.
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?
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. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items. 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?
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling…
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 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.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them.
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. 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.
Writing is one of the quickest ways I know of connecting with and better understanding myself and my beliefs… such as contempt for Valentine’s Day! If you interested in learning more about yourself through the act of writing, join me for one of my GAB classes. If you’ve thought about giving this a try but have been hesitant to start, I’ve got a series of 5 free classes coming up at the Denver Public Library through their older adults program for people 50+.