Part of the excitement of falling in love is getting to know someone new. At the beginning of a relationship, we’re often interested in every little thing about our crush.
As time passes, though, sometimes we start to take our partner a bit for granted. Life feels busy, and we may think we know “what there is to know” about him or her. Truth be told, we might tend to spend our time together talking about where to get dinner, what we need from the store, or what to watch on Netflix.
But while there’s definitely a time and place for “Burgers or pizza?,” don’t forget to continue to make time for other, more powerful conversations in your relationships. Talking about deeper, more personal topics (what researchers call “self-disclosure”) brings people together and makes them feel closer to each other. In one study, researchers found that strangers who were brought together to discuss a specially selected list of intense, “deep questions” felt much closer afterwards, with one pair in the study even falling in love. Such effects were not found when the strangers were asked to carry on small talk with each other. Self-disclosure—sharing personal feelings and emotions and talking about ourselves—is also tied to increased relationship satisfaction in couples.
Of course, we may not always feel like talking about revealing topics and powerful emotions. But just starting a conversation about something new and different can rekindle feelings of connection and passion that sometimes “go missing” from everyday relationships. The following list includes a range of questions from light to revealing. Try a few out on your next night out or in with your partner.
What is your ideal vacation?
If you could live forever, would you?
Do you think kids today behave worse or better than they did when we were growing up?
What do you want to be remembered for after you’re gone?
What is one thing you would change about your life if you could go back in time?
What did your parents do right and wrong when they were raising you?
Which of your teachers do you remember most fondly, and why?
What do you wish you knew how to do, but you can’t?
What are your goals for the next 5, 10, and 20 years?
What’s on your personal bucket list?
Who was your first crush?
What’s something you deeply admire about your partner?
Would you want to win the lottery? Why or why not?
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Did you learn anything from it?
What are your favorite places in your hometown?
Do you have a secret ambition that people don’t know about?
What would be a completely perfect day look like for you?
What do you find interesting that other people don’t?
If you were given $100,000 that you had to donate to one charitable cause, who would you give it to?
Who were your best friends growing up and why?
And if you’re interested in the list of question used in the study to help strangers feel close to one another, they’re available here. Check it out!
Aron, A., et al. (1997). The experimental generation of interpersonal closeness: A procedure and some preliminary findings. Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 23(4), 366-373. doi: 10.1177/0146167297234003