Earlier this year, the New York Times wrote about 36 questions that strangers can supposedly ask each other, which will make them fall in love real quick. You alternate asking each other the questions until you’ve gone through all 36, and then you stare into each other’s eyes silently for four whole minutes. By the end of this process, you’re sure to feel more connected to the other person, if not full-on in love.
I was reminded of this article when I last went to Body Pride, because, in the midst of sharing all these intimate emotional details with one another, I started to feel like I was… kinda falling in love.
Those feelings haven’t particularly persevered, but then again, those aren’t people that I see very regularly. I think that if you developed a crush because of the deep and sudden intimacy fostered in environments like Body Pride, and then you kept spending time with the person on a semi-regular basis, those initial crush-y feelings would inevitably develop into something deeper.
My questions are different from the ones suggested in the NYT article, but they have the same aim. I think if you asked someone these questions, and really listened to their answers, some kind of magic would happen.
1. What are you passionate about?
I can’t imagine a sexier quality than enthusiasm. Everyone reaches their peak cuteness when they’re talking about something they find fascinating and exciting. It doesn’t matter if it’s fashion, photography, blogging, bowling, triathlons, trigonometry, web design or witchcraft: if it turns their crank, then watching them talk about it will be a delight.
True, a relationship might not have long-term legs if the other person’s passion bores you. But if you can’t get excited about the topic of their tirade, you can at least get excited about the way their eyes light up and a smile blooms across their face while they ramble at you about fancy stationery or rock operas or whatever.
2. What are you insecure about?
As a culture, we’re obsessed with the notion that confidence is attractive. And it’s true, it is. But that doesn’t mean insecurity is always a turn-off.
In fact, talking frankly about your insecurities requires confidence, or at least bravery. Whining about your least favorite body parts isn’t hot; projecting your own shit onto other people isn’t hot; refusing to take any risks in life because you hate yourself isn’t hot – but owning up to your issues? That’s hot. Especially if owning up to them makes you decide to actually do something about them.
In my life, I’ve only had maybe two or three really open, honest conversations with people about our mutual insecurities. And far from whiny or boring, it was revelatory. There is something incredibly powerful, for your own self-image and for your relationship, about discovering that other people have the same bullshit negative self-talk that you do. Like the NYT article says: “mutual vulnerability fosters closeness.”
3. What was the last thing that made you laugh really, really hard?
Occasionally someone will try to tell you a story or a joke, but they’ll start laughing so hard that they can’t even finish a sentence. Their face goes red, their voice gets hoarse, maybe some tears stream down their cheeks. They keep going back to the beginning of the sentence to try and get through it, but they just can’t, and it’s hilarious.
It’s also fucking adorable.
We all spend most of our time fairly stoic, moving through the world in a calm and orderly way, even if we’re total freaks and weirdos underneath. When you meet a new beau, it might take several dates – or even several months – before you really break through that crust of composure and get to the kooky good stuff underneath.
But if you ask them about the last time they laughed so hard they couldn’t breathe, and then they tell you that story… you’ll get a little preview of their zaniness. A glimpse of how it looks when they let loose, lose control, lose their shit. And that’s cute as fuck.
Bonus reading: Alexandra Franzen has some good lists of 100 questions to spark conversation and connection + 10 of the best first date questions ever.