36 Questions to Make You Fall in (Queer) Love

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Them is diving deep into queer sex, love, and relationships all week long. Read more here.

What is love, and can it be created in a laboratory? It was this question, among others, that inspired a team of researchers led by the psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron to conduct the 1995 study, “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings.” Beginning with a set of 36 questions designed to establish intimacy, prompts ranged from the basic — what would constitute a “perfect” day for you? — to the invasive — what is your most terrible memory? — to the viscerally revealing — if you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Pairs of participants spent time asking each other these questions, then shared their experiences with the researchers, who measured their “closeness.” Broadly speaking, the study’s authors illustrated something queer and trans folks have known anecdotally forever: “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure.”

Whether a mildly entertaining road trip activity or an empirical salute to the power of trauma dumping, Dr. Aron’s study inspired decades of continued exploration. Notably, a 2015 “Modern Love” essay for the New York Times tested the technique, resurfacing the psychologists’ list of questions for a new generation of would-be lovers. The activity caught on, spawning an online army of lookalike articles and essays, plus countless hours of playful, heartfelt conversation. Nonetheless, upon further reflection, we at Them couldn’t help but notice the questions’ undeniably “cishet” vibes. Love may indeed be love, but our love — that is, the love shared between queer and trans folks — often has qualities specific to our culture, our history, and, yes, our marginalization. In light of this belief, our staff collaborated on an updated list of 36 questions designed to inspire connection, silliness, and perhaps even queer love.

  1. Which of your astrological placements do you identify with most?
  2. Is there a sign you wouldn’t date?
  3. What is your favorite biome (e.g. desert, rainforest, grasslands, etc.)?
  4. If you could steal a body mod from me, which would you take?
  5. If you had to live the rest of your life as a non-human creature, which would you be?
  6. Do you believe in psychics?
  7. What’s on your nightstand right now?
  8. What is the gayest season?
  9. Which form of precipitation do you most identify with?
  10. You encounter Billy on the Street. What do you do?
  11. What is something you like about yourself that you feel is rarely noticed?
  12. When did you first know that you were queer and/or trans?
  13. What character was your first animated queer crush?
  14. Who was the first person you came out to?
  15. What are some parts of you that you only discovered after coming out?
  16. Is there an individual who most helped you step into your truth — how?
  17. Name a song that makes you feel good in your body.
  18. If you had to create a brand new love language, what would it be?
  19. When was the last time you were moved to tears?
  20. With whom do you share your innermost thoughts?
  21. Where do you currently identify on the monogamy to polyamory spectrum?
  22. What are three items you keep on your person at all times?
  23. Are you someone that usually seeks to stay friendly with exes — why or why not?
  24. What is your moving van company of choice?
  25. What is the sexiest time of day?
  26. Is there a partnership in your world that you particularly admire — why?
  27. What is your most cringe quality?
  28. Channel your inner-Claude; Who do you most wish were gay?
  29. Open your Instagram and/or camera roll. Scroll to a random picture; explain.
  30. How often do you speak to your mother, if ever?
  31. On a scale from 1-10, how much religious trauma do you have?
  32. Make three true “we” statements. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling…” (Shout out, Dr. Aron; this one slapped, so we kept it.)
  33. If you could have a conversation with yourself as a child, what would you like to say?
  34. Who do you want to be when you grow up? (All ages)
  35. Where in the world do you feel most free?
  36. Look into your partner’s eyes. Have you learned anything new about each other?

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