Here's the story: In 1995, Arthur Aron, a psychologist at State University of New York at Stony Brook, devised an experiment using three sets of questions, requiring pairs of participants who were strangers to reveal their answers to each other -- divulging increasingly personal information as they drilled farther down through the list.
The whole thing concluded with the partners staring into each others' eyes for four minutes after having revealed more personal information than one might share in a lifetime with a close friend -- or even a spouse.
The idea was to see whether the process of answering the questions could generate an artificial feeling of closeness between two strangers. After the original experiment, one pair of participants ended up marrying, which is what led to the recent New York Times feature story that brought this odd little piece of research to viral status.
Because, as a divorce recovery coach, I ask questions for a living (listening carefully and providing insights my clients are not able to see for themselves), I know that most women have never answered questions like these -- and I immediately thought, "How much more love and compassion might women have toward themselves if they asked themselves some of these questions? How much insight would this give them about who they are and what the major themes of their lives are?"
Rogue uses for the 36 questions: Try them now : )
The New York Times article that started all the conversations about the magic 36 questions was titled "To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This." I thought, "Wow, I would love to use these questions to get my divorcées to fall in love with themselves!"
A bit later, I thought of a true genius use for these questions. Very often, my clients find that they had become isolated in their marriages, and no longer have the kinds of close friendships that would make their transition to single life so much easier. Hmmmm. What about doing these questions with a friend in order to form a closer and deeper relationship?
Of course, you don't need to tell your friend/acquaintance that that's what you're doing. You could just set aside 90 minutes (the amount of time that the 36 questions were allotted in the original research), and propose this to your friend as a fun thing to do.
I think that most women would agree to this as a fun activity. We're all starved for someone in our lives to be curious about us and to be interested <gasp> in what we have to say!
So, just what are the questions? Take a look:
Please comment, if you decide to try it. Does it bring you closer to someone you'd love to have as a friend? If you decide to answer the questions for yourself (without another person present), does the process give you more love and compassion for yourself and your life journey so far? Hint: These are great questions for journaling.
I'm thinking of building a party around the 36 questions theme. If there's an even number of guests, the host can just facilitate (and pour drinks). If an odd number is present, the host participates. What do you think?
I would love to hear your experiences!
Here's another interesting piece about the 36 questions from The Telegraph.
I can't resist including this spoof, "To Fall Out of Love, Do This," from The New Yorker.
And there's this, from Dame, even more wicked.