36 Questions to Increase Closeness

In this week’s episode of Train Your Brain, I interviewed our very first official Mindful Mouse! Jen bravely volunteered and selected a practice to increase closeness with her adult son. Their relationship has suffered over the last couple of years and Jen chose a mindfulness practice to get things back on track – the results were incredible! This is one of the most powerful exercises I have done with an individual, and as you listen it’s almost impossible not to get emotional about how this experience changed their relationship. I am incredibly grateful to Jen and her son for letting us be a part of their journey. 

To listen to the episode and learn more about the practice download the BYLR Radio app.

You can find our past episodes under Podcasts/Wellness.

To try out this practice yourself, check out the directions and questions at the bottom of this blog. 

If you would like to volunteer to be a Mindful Mouse, DM me at DrKristenRace on Instagram. Every few weeks I will interview someone who has volunteered to try out a new brain training practice. We chat, pick a practice that feels like it will benefit you, an hour, a-day, one-week, or longer - you will try the practice, and then come on the show and we chat about the experience.

I want to thank Jen for volunteering and being so incredibly open and willing to share her experience with us! 

36 Questions to Increase Closeness

Time Required

60-90 minutes – You can do this in person or over skype, zoom etc.

How to Do It

  1. Identify someone with whom you’d like to become closer. It could be someone you know well or someone you’re just getting to know. Although this exercise has a reputation for making people fall in love, it is actually useful for anyone you want to feel close to, including family members, friends, and acquaintances. Before trying it, make sure both you and your partner are comfortable with sharing personal thoughts and feelings with each other.
  2. Find a time when you and your partner have at least 45 minutes free and are able to meet in person or over skype.
  3. For 20 minutes, take turns asking one another the questions in Set I below. Each person should answer each question, but in an alternating order, so that a different person goes first each time.
  4. After 20 minutes, move on to Set II, even if you haven’t yet finished the Set I questions. Then spend 20 minutes on Set II, following the same system.
  5. After 20 minutes on Set II, spend 20 minutes on Set III. (Note: Each set of questions is designed to be more probing than the previous one. The 20-minute periods ensure that you spend an equivalent amount of time at each level of self-disclosure).

Set I

  1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
  2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
  4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
  5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
  6. 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?
  7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
  8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
  9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
  12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

    Set II

  13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
  14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
  15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
  16. What do you value most in a friendship?
  17. What is your most treasured memory?
  18. What is your most terrible memory?
  19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
  20. What does friendship mean to you?
  21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
  22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
  23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
  24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

    Set III

  25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling…”
  26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
  27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for them to know.
  28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
  29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
  30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
  31. Tell your partner something that you like about them [already].
  32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
  33. 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?
  34. 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 any one item. What would it be? Why?
  35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
  36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how they might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

36 Question to Increase Closeness was developed by Aron, A., Melinat, E., Aron, E. N., Vallone, R. D., & Bator, R. J. (1997). The experimental generation of interpersonal closeness: A procedure and some preliminary findings. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23(4), 363-377. 

S H A R E  T H I S !



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