How to Get to Know Someone
Earlier this spring, I shared an article on how to get to you know yourself, and this time I am back with an exercise to help you get to know somebody else.
Psychologist Arthur Aron started studying the science of love with Elaine Spaulding – his collaborator and real-life wife, after their first kiss. Back in 1997, they conducted a research and developed a set of 36 questions (see below) aiming to create closeness between two subjects. This questionnaire generated a lot of buzz in the dating community. It is said that it can help you fall in love with a stranger. Some even recommended answering this questionnaire at the early stage of a relationship or dating.
B and I have been together for four year yet this questionnaire peaked my curiosity, so we gave it a try and we learned new things about each other. From my side, it was extremely insightful: humor was a topic that came up frequently in his answers, and I discovered how important and omnipresent it was in his life. We shared some very personal stories about ourselves, and I must confess that we both shed some tears. I did not expect this process to be emotionally-intense.
Will these 36 questions make you fall in love? I can't tell because we were already in love BUT they certainly provide closeness, intimacy and some understanding about one another. If both parties wholeheartedly give in, it will create a bond and an atmosphere of trust. Some questions are deep and will make you feel vulnerable. I honestly do not know if I would be brave enough to answer some of these with a total stranger on a first date. However, now that I've tried this exercise, I personally feel that it is relevant for any relationship, including friendship!
Now it is your turn! Below are the questions and some of my tips.
Instructions & Questions
There are three sets of 12 questions. Go through one question at a time and each take a turn to answer. According to the experiment, this should take in total no more than 45 minutes.
- 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 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.
- 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 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.
Extra: Stare into each others' eyes for four minutes.
A few tips
- Choose a quiet place. It will be intimate, therefore avoid noisy and busy locations. We did it in a restaurant, which was not a good idea. We had to wait until we were alone in the car to feel comfortable enough to share the most private answers.
- Be yourself and open up. There is no wrong or right answer, each experience is unique and makes you you! When you open up, you create trust and also encourage your partner to do the same.
- Be a good listener. Don't judge. Don't force anything. The intention of this exercise is to get to know each other, not to criticize one another or give each other advice. It might also occur that you find no words, anecdotes or ideas to answer some of the questions, and that is also acceptable.
- Prepare a few tissues, it can become emotional.
- Take your time. We didn't manage to cover all questions within 45 minutes. It took us two sessions because the questionnaire is long and we sometimes had to reflect.
- Be patient. Some questions might feel repetitive, just play along with the game.
- Thank each other. It takes courage to share personal stories so acknowledge your partner's honesty and express gratitude.
- Move on afterwards to a more light-hearted activity. Your heart might be full, heavy or light. Either way, make sure to also plan something fun.
I am really curious about your experience! Don't hesitate to click below "Leave a comment" to let me know how it went and if you learned anything interesting!
And if you do fall in love – which I hope you will of course, here are some tips from Dr. Aron himself to make it last forever: