When Briann and I were in the early stages of our budding romantic relationship, we sent each other a lot of emails. And not just any kind of email but – the kind that turned into electronic novellas. Every day. Our notes to one another were full of stories from our pasts, our dreams and hopes for the future, and our lives in the present day as moms.
Being in a long-distance relationship really helped us establish open communication with one another. If we didn’t use words, we didn’t have anything. And so, we opened up to one another right away and shared as much as we could, as often as we could.
At some point early-on, I began sending Briann a series of questions I’d read about in the New York Times. It was an article about asking a series of important, hard-hitting, deep-thinking questions as a means of getting to know someone and finding out just how compatible you are (or aren’t). I sent a few each day for her to answer, and for me to answer back.
From the Times’ article:
In Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” she refers to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.
The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.
Some of these questions, I may never have thought to ask early-on in our relationship. This exercise of sharing our answers to these questions had a few benefits for us:
- Reading each other’s answers helped us see just how compatible we really are in every way;
- We got to know each other in a deeper way than just surface level questions like “What’s your lucky number?” would have;
- It helped us open up the door to open & honest communication early on and;
- Gave us an opportunity to be vulnerable with one another and learn that there is strength in vulnerability and opening up to someone.
Whether you’re in an relatively new relationship, are dating someone or are not yet involved but hope to be some day, I can’t say enough about sharing these questions (and answers) with your (future) love.