These questions, written by Dr. Arthur Aron, Rich Slatcher and Keith Welker, were designed for existing couples to help reignite the flame of a longstanding relationship.
Grouped into three sets, the questions get increasingly more personal as the list goes on.
Dr. Aron says these questions are most effective when two couples go through the list together — and that the couples should be strangers to each other.
"We wanted to develop a procedure that would let us, in 45 minutes, in a lab setting, take any two people and get them close," Aron told TODAY of his list, which includes questions like "Would you like to be famous?" "What does friendship mean to you?" and "When did you last cry in front of another person?"
"At the end of 45 minutes, you feel as close to this person, almost as the closest person in your life," Aron says.
The questions were featured in a recent New York Times essay, titled "To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This," which quickly went viral.
The author of that piece, Mandy Len Catron, was researching the science of love when she tried out the questions with a guy she knew casually. "I think what I knew in that moment was that we would become very close," she says.
It wasn't just the questions — they also stood on a Vancouver bridge and stared into each other's eyes...for four minutes! "I was so uncomfortable, I was like nervous and I kept giggling," she remembers. "And then once we settled into it, we found it to be a really cool experience."
Eventually, their relationship did turn romantic, and they're still together.
But what about all those couples who are looking to add a little spark to a relationship they're already in?
For them, Dr. Aron developed yet another set of questions designed to possibly reignite the flame. These questions dig a little deeper, and Aron believes the key is answering them along with another couple — who are complete strangers.
"When you do things that are novel and challenging, or anything that's a lot of sharing with your partner, that can create passionate love," he says.
Before beginning the questions, one person should read the following out loud:
For each question, one of us reads it aloud. We should not skip any and all four of us should answer each question before we go on to the next. And we should take turns in who answers each question first.
The questions are in three sets. Allow about 15 minutes for each set. We should not rush through the questions, but each of us answer each question at a normal, conversational pace. We probably won’t get even close to doing all 12 questions in each set, and that's perfectly OK.
When about 15 minutes is up, we finish answering the question we are on. Then we start with the first question in the second set. And so on.
When we are sure we all understand the procedure, and have selected who will keep track of the time, we start Set I.
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- Have you ever moved to a different place? If so, what was it like to move and what things did you experience moving to a different location?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- 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?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- Name three things that the four of you appear to have in common.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take 4 minutes and tell your partner and the other couple your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- Have you experienced a culture other than your own? What was the most interesting part of this experience?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of the other participants. Share a total of 5 items.
- Make 3 true “we” statements each. For instance “We are all in this room feeling…”
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
- If you were going to become close friends with the other couple, please share what would be important for them to know
- Tell the members of the other couple what you like about them; be very honest, saying things that you might not say to someone you've just met.
- Share with the others in the group an embarrassing moment in your life.
- Talk about a time when you had to leave home for a significant amount of time (e.g., for university, work, long travel). Was it difficult? What made it so?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- If you could go back in your life and change any one experience, what would it be and why?
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- 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?
- 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 one item. What would it be? Why?
- Share a personal problem and ask the other participants' advice on how they might handle it. Also, ask the other participants to reflect back to you how you seem to feeling about the problem you have chosen.
This story was originally published on Feb. 14 at 10:29 a.m.