It takes a lifetime to really get to know a woman.
If you ask the right questions, though, you can get a pretty good head start in less than an hour. We’re not just running our mouths here, either—this is straight-up science. Well, it’s social science, so not a hard science like physics or chemistry. But we’ll take it.
Arthur Aron is research psychologist at Stony Brook University. In 1967, when he was studying psychology at UC Berkeley, Aron fell in love with a fellow student named Elaine Spaulding.
“I fell in love very intensely,” Aron later told the Berkeley News. “Given that I was studying social psychology, just for fun I looked for the research on love, but there was almost none.”
Aron went on to marry that fellow student, and since then, Arthur and Elaine Aron have been researching the mysteries of love and attraction. The Arons rose to mainstream fame with a 1997 paper called “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings.” The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and since its publication, a certain subset of studious Romeos have been using the questions the Arons developed to get to know who a woman truly is at heart.
These 36 questions have been shown to build intimacy and increase the desire for two strangers to see one another again.
Incredibly, they only take about 45 minutes to get through. Next time you’re on a date with a woman you’d like to get to know better, take turns asking each other these questions, and watch the magic grow.
1. If you could have anyone in the world over for dinner, who would you choose?
2. Do you want to be famous, and, if so, what for?
3. Do you plan your conversations before phone calls? If so, how come?
4. Describe your personal perfect day.
5. When was the last time you sang a song? When did you last sing to another person?
6. Choose one: Live to age 90 with the mind of a 30-year-old, or live to age 90 with the body of a 30-year-old.
7. Not to get too dark, here, but do you sometimes suspect that you know how you’re going to die?
8. What are three things you and I have in common?
9. What are you grateful for?
10. Imagine you can change anything about your upbringing. What would you change?
11. Tell me your life story in four minutes.
12. If you could suddenly have a single new ability or quality, without having to work for it, what would you choose?
13. If you could learn anything about your future or yourself through some work of magic, what would you ask?
14. Have you always wanted to do something that you haven’t done? Why not?
15. Describe your single greatest accomplishment.
16. List the things that you most value in a friend.
17. What memory do you cherish the most?
18. What’s the worst memory you can think of?
19. Say you get the news that you only have one year to live. How does your life change? Why would you make those changes?
20. How do you define friendship? What does that term really mean in your mind?
21. How does love influence your life? What about affection?
22. Let’s each tell each other five things that we appreciate about each other.
23. Are you close with your family? How does your childhood rank in happiness compared with everyone else’s?
24. What’s your relationship with your mother like?
25. Let’s both make three statements about our shared experience here, as in, “We’re both getting to know each other, and it feels…” Fill in the blank.
26. Finish a sentence that begins, “If only I knew someone with whom I could share…”
27. Say we’re about to become close friends. What do I need to know?
28. Can I tell you something I honestly like about you? (Follow this question by doing so.)
29. Can I tell you about this embarrassing thing that happened to me? (Again, share the story.)
30. Tell me about the last time you cried alone. When did you last cry in front of someone else?
31. Can I tell you something I already like about you? (Share something you like about her.)
32. Is there anything that you consider too grave to joke about? What is it?
33. If you died right now, on the spot, what would you regret not sharing with someone? Why do you think you haven’t told that person this thing?
34. What’s the one thing you would save from a devastating house fire, assuming everyone who lives in your house is safe, including pets?
35. In your family, whose death would be most upsetting, and why?
36. Can I get your advice on this personal problem? How do you think I feel about this personal problem? (Share that problem.)
In order to really spark a sense of intimacy, you have to take turns asking each other these questions.
When you really want to get to know a woman, you have to have a conversation; no one-sided interview will really get you close to a woman’s true essence.
Essentially, these questions work by sparking deep conversation. That’s the only real way to get to know who a woman really is.
Aron designed these questions to go gradually deeper. That’s why they start with impersonal, fun subjects like who in the world you’d most like to have dinner with, and end with deep questions about relationships, problems, and mortality. When he first experimented with these 36 questions, Aron was surprised to see how effective they were at getting people to open up in authentic ways.
In his experiments, he handed subjects groups of 12 questions at a time.
“When I came in towards the end of each set of questions, there were people crying and talking so openly,” he told Berkeley News. “It was amazing. They all seemed really moved by it.”
If this special conversation really does help you get to know a woman’s true self, and you end up dating for a long time, you might want to revisit the questions years down the line. They could be effective at rekindling long-term romantic relationships, too.
“The theory is, when you’re first in a romantic relationship, there’s an intense excitement, but then you grow used to each other,” Aron said. “If you do something new and challenging, that reminds you of how exciting it can be with your partner. It makes your relationship better.”
Keep in mind that the Arons did not create this list of questions to make two people fall in love.
It seems likely that the questions can spur romantic love if both participants are looking for romance in one another in the first place. However, as Elaine Aron explains, they would need to do more studies to prove the efficacy of the 36 questions in a romantic context.
“To do a good job of that, we would have needed to do a study with people who, above all, came into it really wanting to fall in love, and we were not in that business,” she wrote in a Psychology Today blog post. “More important, we would need to follow up over time to know if the relationships lasted, an expensive process, and funding research on love is not easy.”
Still, the questions have been shown to increase intimacy, and that’s a big part of love. Next time you’re trying to get to know a woman, try the 36 questions out. At worst, you’ll end up stoking a fascinating conversation!