In 1997, social psychologists researched whether two complete strangers could deepen their feelings of connection by taking turns answering increasingly personal questions about their attitudes, beliefs, and experiences. The original thirty-sex questions were predominantly NOT of a sexual nature. I have made my best attempt to reword each of the original questions so that they each reflect some aspect of sexuality while maintaining as much of the intent of the original question as possible. Likewise I’ve attempted to keep the questions in the same progressively personal order, although, as you might imagine, this is virtually impossible given the inherent diversity in our individual experiences with sexuality.
Deepening our communication, particularly around sexuality, presents both an opportunity and a challenge (although some may view those as one and the same). New and long term couples alike will find value in being intentional about expanding their mutual understanding through sexual communication beyond attitudes towards oral sex, porn, and birth control. On the other hand, some of these questions can stir up old feelings and memories that may be too personal to share at this time. If so, skip the question. The purpose of these questions is to provide an intentional context to systematically deepen your sexual communication, ideally to the point where you can share some laughs while deepening your mutual empathy and connection.
Thirty-six questions will likely prove to be too much for one sitting. That’s okay. There’s no right way to go through these questions. They do, however, become increasingly personal as they go on. While you should never feel obligated or forced to answer, consider the possibility that feeling some amount of anxiety or apprehension may indicate an area of potential growth; working through challenging questions may ultimately increase your comfort when encountering these topics again in real life. Let the challenge become an opportunity!
Although you can use these thirty-six questions any way you like, it will probably help to take time beforehand to discuss how you will proceed through the questions. Some ideas and suggestions you might consider:
Set a time limit of 1 minute each per question, or
Eliminate all time limits and only move on when you’re both ready
Take turns answering questions and alternate who answers first
Determine the number of questions or amount of time you’ll take before you start, but allow at least 45 - 60 minutes for the entire session
The questions are divided into three groups which might provide a natural break or stopping point.
If you don’t finish, set a time to follow-up!
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a first date?
Would you like to be famous for dating a porn star?
Before calling a new dating interest, have you ever rehearsed what you are going to say? Why?
What would constitute a “perfect” date for you?
Who and when did you first kiss consensually?
If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the sexual desire or sexual health of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Do you think there is an age at which you’ll stop having sex? What do you think the reason(s) will be?
Name three sexual interests you and your partner appear to have in common.
For what about your sexual history do you feel most grateful?
If you could change anything about the way you were taught about sexuality, what would it be?
Tell your partner about your first sexual encounter in as much detail as possible.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one sexual ability, what would it be? SET II
If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about your sexual identity, your future sex life or anything else about your sexuality, what would you want to know?
Is there something sexual that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
What is the greatest sexual accomplishment of your life?
What do you value most about a sexual relationship?
What is your most treasured sexual memory?
What is your most forgettable sexual memory?
If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about your sex life? Why?
What do monogamy and open relationships mean to you?
What roles do sex and intimacy play in your life?
Alternate sharing something you consider a positive sexual characteristic of your partner. Share at least three..
How open is your family to discussing sexuality? Do you feel your childhood was more or less open sexually than most other people’s?
How do you feel about your parents’ expressions of intimacy and affection? Set III
Take turns making three true “we” statements about sex. For instance, “We both like french kissing."
Complete this sentence using some aspect of your sexuality: “I wish I had someone with whom I could... “
If you were going to become sexual with a new partner, please share what would be important for them to know about your sexual turn ons and turn offs.
Tell your partner what stood out to you about their sexual history.
Share with your partner an embarrassing sexual experience from your life.
When did you last masturbate in front of another person? By yourself?
Tell your partner the first thing that you liked about their sexual interests and desires.
What sexuality topics, if any, are too serious to be joked about?
If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what about sex would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
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 sex related item. What would it be? Why?
Of all the people in your family, whose sex life would you guess to be the most kinky? Why?
Share a personal sexual difficulty or 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.
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.