How do you know if they’re the one? Who then, for that matter?
As barn dances went out of fashion, came speed dating, then the ‘Farmer wants a wife’ show, ‘The Bachelor/ette’, ‘RSVP’ and ‘e-Harmony’ websites. Now there’s ‘Plenty of Fish’ or ‘Tinder’ that simplifies the matchmaking process to a simple swipe left/right. In our immediate society that allows access to way too much too easy, it’s no surprise we want to fast track the process of finding “the one” as well.
New love is full of anxiety, apprehension and intense elation from an exciting flow of neurochemicals. When you start seeing someone you’re often juggling thoughts such as, “Will they love me back?”, “Are we a good fit for each other?”, “Will they disappoint me like the last disaster?” “Should I text again?”.
Having found your like-minded person, sometimes without leaving the house, then what? What if there was a way to find if you have a deeper connection really, really, quickly? Say in the form of a handy questionnaire?
Turns out there is. Thanks to the wonders of psychology!
Curious? Read on!
The 36 Questions
Way back in the misty past, in that far-off time of 1997, psychologist Arthur Aron and associates published a paper called “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings”.
As the incredibly sexy, catchy title says, the goal was to find out if you could find out how compatible you might be with another person through a simple procedure. They formed a series of 36 questions for each partner to ask the other, broken down into three sets.
How does it work?
By encouraging both people to be open and vulnerable with each other. It fosters closeness! According to the study: “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.”
As we all know, it’s scary being vulnerable with another person. We actively avoid that kind of deep emotional openness as much as possible. We might reveal something embarrassing or shameful? Even people in long-term committed relationships can struggle with being vulnerable with their partners.
This is why such questions are handy at speeding up the whole “getting to know someone at an intimate level” thing. Each set of questions probes deeper and asks for more vulnerability than the set before. In set one you’re asking things like “Would you like to be famous? What for?” and “Describe your perfect day”. By set three, you’re asking “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?”
This is rather intense for a first date so please don’t underestimate the value of vulnerability and face to face interaction over time! Through this gradual, mutual openness you’ll quickly learn some rather deep truths about each other.
It’s been said we’re looking for warmth, attractiveness and resources not necessarily in that order. Delving beyond the superficial, early in the relationship (especially before sex and the love drug oxytocin takes over) gives you a great advantage to discern if this is a life partner, a suitable breeder or co-parent!
If you’re interested in reading the full 36 questions, you can read them HERE.
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?
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?
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.
Is it really necessary to cut that deep to start with?
“Necessary”, not so much.
Useful, on the other hand, absolutely!
Joanne Wilson is a Sunshine Coast professional Counsellor and Neuropsychotherapist and feature relationships columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily, weekly radio guest for Salt 106.5 and enjoys inspiring the community through guest speaking invitations and producing her own books, Pearls of Wisdom from the Thriving Thirties, The Relationship Rejuvenator E-Book.
Contact Jo on 0409 909 933 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
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Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples servicing areas including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.