My Partner & I Asked Those 36 Questions

Author's own

Ever since I learned about the "36 Questions to Fall in Love" — which made strangers feel close in one 1997 study — I wanted to try them with a partner. But the idea of asking them to a stranger terrified me. What if I actually fell in love with someone just because of some questions? So, I decided to wait until I was already in love with someone to ask them. Two years later, while attempting to revive a strained relationship with my boyfriend, I requested we go through them on date nights.

One complaint I had about my relationship was that I felt like our conversations were surface-level. Because he's not very open with his emotions, I didn't feel like I knew him as well as I wanted to. The 36 questions definitely changed that. Instead of discussing the minutia of our day-to-day lives, we spent dinnertime learning what we had in common, what we appreciated about each other, and how our relationship could improve. I really did feel closer to him by the end.

Over the course of a relationship, we can start to feel disconnected and take each other for granted, Holly Parker, PhD, author of If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?, told Bustle. One way to combat this is to try to get to know them better the same way you would with a friend — and these questions are a good start. If you don't have time to go through all 36 of them, here are the ones I found most useful.


What Would Constitute A “Perfect” Day For You?

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

The 36 questions go from fairly light to deeply personal. This was one of the light ones. For whatever reason, the answer that came to me was, "we're on a boat and you throw me into the water." Not exactly a whole day, but knowing he was the center of my perfect day meant a lot to him.


If You Could Change Anything About The Way You Were Raised, What Would It Be?

When you don't talk about your struggles, it's easy to feel like you have bigger problems than everyone else, or like your partner's more "normal" than you. Hearing what made my partner's life less than perfect helped me instead relate to him.


If You Knew That In One Year You Would Die Suddenly, Would You Change Anything About The Way You Are Living? Why?

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Our answer to this one was the same: We would travel the world. Learning we shared the same dreams helped me envision a future with him.


What Do You Value Most In A Friendship?

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

What someone values in a friendship is often also what they value in a partner, so hearing what your partner wants in a friend can also tell you how you can best support them.


Alternate Sharing Something You Consider A Positive Characteristic Of Your Partner. Share A Total Of Five Items.

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Everyone loves flattery, and feeling appreciated by your partner also helps you appreciate them in turn. Feeling like my positive traits were acknowledged made me want to cultivate them even more. And hearing what we liked about each other also helped us see why our relationship works.

Even if you think you know everything important about your partner, you might be surprised by what they haven't shared with you just because it hasn't come up yet. It took hours of research to come up with these questions, so we'd might as well take advantage of them.