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These Are the 36 Questions That Lead to Love

An exercise in vulnerability might just help you find your happily ever after.

What if there were a shortcut to finding love? A way to quickly connect with someone and weed out anyone who isn't a match? It wouldn't be the easiest path forward and would require some extroversion. But in the end, you could walk away having formed a new romantic connection. Would you do it? If so, you might be interested in learning more about the 36 questions that lead to love. Read on to find out what they are and why they work.

RELATED: 21 Questions For a New Relationship.

36 Questions to Fall in Love: The Arthur Aron Experiment

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In 1997, psychologist Arthur Aron published the results of a study focused on how structured interactions can accelerate intimacy between men and women. To demonstrate the claim, Aron developed 36 questions that force people to be open, honest, and vulnerable.

The questions were originally inspired by a colleague who had presented a similar set during a conference in 1991 but never had them published. These were also the same questions that inspired a romance between two of Aron's lab assistants, who were eventually married.

"One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure," the study authors wrote.

The questions are split up into three sets that become increasingly personal. During the experiment, participants were instructed to take turns asking one another the questions. They were also asked to spend several minutes making sustained eye contact at the end of each session.

Renewed interest in the work developed soon after Mandy Len Catron penned her 2015 Modern Love essay, "To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This," in which she chronicles her own experience with the 36 questions. She went on to marry the man she exchanged them with.

RELATED: 20 Relationship Red Flags You Should Never Ignore.

How the 36 Questions Work

man and woman talking on a couch asking one another questions

Getting the Sense that someone likes you.

According to Aron, one of the strongest predictors of romance is actually believing that the other person likes you, which is why you'll see prompts like "Tell your partner something that you like about them already" on the list of questions.

"Turns out that's a huge factor in feeling close to someone," he explained to the American Psychological Association. "And in fact, it's a huge factor in initially falling in love… thinking the other person likes you."

But, why? It's actually pretty straightforward: These affirmations give us the confidence and enthusiasm needed to move forward with someone new.

Communicating vulnerabilities.

Establishing a sense of shared vulnerability is also a big part of Aron's experiment. The further into the list you get, the more you have to reveal about yourself—but these disclosures are just a piece of the puzzle. According to Aron, feeling as though someone is receptive, responsive, and tuned in to what you're saying is really what helps intimacy build.

Finding out what you have in common.

Not only is talking about a shared interest an easy way to kick off an engaging conversation, but it also acts as a shortcut to feeling comfortable around someone. And here's a surprise: you don't even really need to have all that much in common to reap the benefits of what feeling like you have things in common does. According to study, listing off even a couple things you're both interested in is validating enough to feel as though you two really are getting along.

RELATED: How Do I Tell If He Loves Me? 15 Signs a Man Is Falling in Love.

How to Use the 36 Questions to Fall in Love

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Don't just spring them on someone.

This exercise is all about intention, so it's best to be clear about what's on the agenda before you begin. Remember, these prompts are pretty personal, so you should definitely give the other person a heads up before introducing any.

Take turns.

Reciprocity is key here, so it's important that you both participate as advised. Things like mutual vulnerability, enthusiasm in getting to know one another, and having things in common are what really catapult us towards intimacy—and none are possible to achieve when only one person is putting in the work.

Ask the questions in order.

These questions are purposely broken up into sections and put in a particular order. Jumping into the more intimate questions might throw the other person off or make them uncomfortable. Starting out slow allows them to get used to the process. The more relaxed they are, the more likely they are to open up down the line.

Be honest.

The whole point of Aron's experiment was to help people establish genuine connections. Going in with anything other than an honest approach isn't a very sustainable move. So, tell the truth and be on the lookout for someone who you really can see a future with.

Listen carefully.

You can't forge much of a connection with someone if you're not paying attention to them. During an episode of the Scientific American podcast, Aron insisted, "If you're talking about something really personal, it's really important to feel that responsiveness. That responsiveness has a big effect." So, practice your active listening skills, stay present, and make it clear that you really are concentrating on what they have to say.

Take breaks.

These questions aren't easy to answer. Take advantage of the fact that the list is already broken up into different sections. Enjoy frequent breaks and only dive back in when you're ready and enthusiastic about moving forward.

RELATED: How to Know if a Girl Likes You? 12 Signs That Say She's Interested.

The 36 Questions

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Set I

  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?

Set II

  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.

So, Do the 36 Questions Actually Work?

Will these 36 questions absolutely help you find love? No. There are very few absolutes when it comes to relationships. But what they can do is help streamline the building of intimacy with a potential partner. "This procedure should deepen the relationship, but it doesn't necessarily make you fall in love," Aron explained during an interview with Brides. "If everything else is in place it won't hurt. There are no negatives."

Wrapping Up

That's it for now, but be sure to check back in with us soon for more information on life, love, and how to find your perfect match.

Carrie Weisman
Carrie Weisman oversees all SEO efforts at Best Life. She specializes in content optimization and editorial marketing. Read more
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