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It was a warm fall night, we were in a treehouse, and we were nervous.
For our 4th anniversary, we went on a weekend glamping trip — we found a precious treehouse hotel to spend the night in. Just one room with a bed and a mirror, this treehouse was surrounded by tall Texas cypress trees.
We’d spent the day lounging in the natural pool, completing a zip line tour through the trees, and paddling together alone on a beautiful pond at sunset.
The sun went down and we retired to the treehouse, crossing a wobbly drawstring bridge to get there. Without a TV and barely any internet, I came up with another way for us to pass the time: the 36 Questions.
According to a study, asking each other these particular 36 questions, in the order they’ve been written, along with staring into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes straight, could make any two people fall in love.
I first found out about the 36 Questions from Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love Essay. She recently went on to write a book, as well: How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays
Bosch and I are already in love, so we skipped the eye contact thing and went straight to the questions. I’d been mentioning them to Bosch for months, but the idea of opening up his heart and soul made him nervous. It made me nervous too, but I loved the idea.
I wanted to know more things about him that nobody else knew. I wanted to be forced to talk about parts of my life that would never come up in casual conversation. Most of all, I wanted us to be even closer. I wanted to strengthen our connection.
So, we laid on the bed and passed the paper back and forth, asking each other the questions one by one and giving both people a chance to answer.
The questions are ordered from least intense and personal to more intense. For instance, the first question is: “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?”
Not a life-changing question, but certainly an interesting one. When’s the last time you sat down and asked your partner this? It’s enlightening!
The questions got more intense and made us more uncomfortable. Topics were coming up that Bosch and I had never even scratched the surface of in our 4 years of dating and the 3 years of friendship before that. Questions about family, past regrets, future dreams, spirituality, painful memories, and death made us squirm. There was a reason we hadn’t organically broached these subjects in the last 7 years — they didn’t made us feel good.
As we stumbled through our answers, getting increasingly anxious with each new question, something changed. Bosch was answering a question about the worst day of his life and suddenly all I wanted to do was hug him. I never knew he felt the way he did about that day and I was overcome with love for him. I wanted to hug him and protect him from days like that for the rest of our lives. I wanted to do everything I could to make sure he never has a bad day again.
The 36 questions are tough. They rip you out of your comfort zone and throw you into a room full of anxiety and uncomfortable silences. But they are oh, so worth it.
Have you ever completed the 36 Questions? Did you do 4 minutes of eye contact? What’d you think?
If you haven’t, do you think you want to? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
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