In continuing to study relationships and the affects they have on our health, I recently came across a study by Arthur Aron done in 1997, which basically states that you can create an intimate relationship with someone in about an hour-talk about a major time hack and serious relationship hack! His theory states that partners spending time asking each other a series of 36 questions, increasing in intimacy with each set of 12, then staring into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes, will create a very close bond. So will it work? I haven’t tried it myself, but I think it makes sense. The word itself, relationship, is the ability to relate to another. Intimacy comes from the capacity to relate, to another person’s feelings, thoughts, ideas, etc., and communication is the key to finding out how well you relate to another person. So I’m all for anything that will open up the lines of communication, and these questions will definitely have you sharing and opening up in ways that small talk, and mundane conversations, couldn’t do. Here are the instructions from the actual study (Aron, et al) and included is a list of the 36 questions:
INSTRUCTIONS (Please both read carefully before con- tinuing)This is a study of interpersonal closeness, and your task, which we think will be quite enjoyable, is simply to get close to your partner. We believe that the bestwayfor you to get close to your partner is for you to share with them and for them to share with you. Of course, when we advise you about getting close to your partner, we are giving advice regarding your behavior in this demonstra- tion only, we are not advising you about your behavior outside of this demonstration.In order to help you get close we’ve arranged for the two of you to engage in a kind of sharing game. You’re sharing time will be for about one hour, after which time we ask you to fill out a questionnaire concerning your experience of getting close to your partner.You have been given three sets of slips. Each slip has a question or a task written on it. As soon as you both finish reading these instructions, you should begin with the Set I slips. One ofyou should read aloud the first slip and then BOTH do what it asks, starting with the person who read the slip aloud. When you are both done, go on to the second slip–one ofyou reading it aloud and both doing what it asks. And so forth.As you go through the slips, one at a time, please don’t skip any slips-do each in order. Ifitasksyou a question, share your answer with your partner. Then let him or her share their answer to the same question with you. Ifit is a task, do it first, then let your partner do it. Alternate who reads aloud (and thus goes first) with each new slip.You will be informed when to move on to the next set of slips. It is not important to finish all the slips in each setwithin the time allotted. Take plenty oftime with each slip, doing what it asks thoroughly and thoughtfully.
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. I f 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 youâve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why havenât 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 peopleâs?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
25. Make three true âweâ statements each. For instance, âWe are both in this room feeling … â
26. Complete this sentence: âI wish I had someone with whom I could share … â
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 youâve 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 already.
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 havenât 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 partnerâs 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.
This excerpt is taken directly from the study. Obviously, these are questions you would have answers to after spending eons of time with another person, but will squeezing them all into one sitting have the same effect?
If you are in a relationship that is struggling, if you’re feeling disconnected from your partner, or you want to see if things can go to the next level, I think this is an excellent way to bond, get to know your partner more intimately, or simply have a little fun and get the heavy lifting over and done with from the start.
What do you think? Is this something you would try? Do you think it could help you find “the one” or at at least rule out who is not? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and to know how it goes if you try it. I’ll keep you posted as to any success or failure I have as well. If nothing else, there are some great questions here to think about asking yourself, to know yourself more intimately and ponder how you would answer some of these questions.