When you think of intimacy in your relationship, it’s pretty common to automatically think “sex.” While sex is one form of intimacy, it’s not the only kind. In fact, emotional intimacy in a relationship is just as important to have with your partner. According to experts, one really great and easy way to build emotional intimacy in your relationship is through asking questions.
“Asking questions about your partner’s perspective and needs builds more intimacy almost immediately,” Dr. Jill Murray, licensed psychotherapist and author, tells Bustle. “You are getting a look into what matters to your partner at a deeper level.”
That’s why dating app, Sapio, for instance, was inspired by Dr. Arthur Aron‘s infamous 36 questions that are meant to make you fall in love. The dating app uses intimate questions to essentially help people, bond and grow closer together through an exchange of questions and answers before meeting in person.
As Kristin Tynski, a founder of Sapio, tells Bustle, “Aron’s research shows how intimacy can be built quickly between people by having them mutually answer questions. What we’ve found is that the questions our users engage most with, and find most useful in evaluating a potential mate have the following attributes: questions that reveal how unique a person is, questions that can speak to core level personality traits, and questions that provide room for storytelling.”
According to Tynski some of their top 10 questions include: What is one personal passion you couldn’t live without? What do you take pride in? What topic could you go on about for hours without getting tired? And, what is your spirit animal?
But there are so many questions you can ask your partner to build intimacy. According to experts, here are 15.
1. “What First Attracted You To Me?”
“At the beginning of a relationship everyone is high on NRE (new relationship energy). Everything you learn about your partner is magical and special,” sex and relationship expert, Dr. Megan Stubbs tells Bustle. “Not that the familiarity you settle into is bad, but it can sometimes lack the excitement that comes from discovering something new about your partner.” According to her, sharing the memory of how you first met can trigger that NRE again, no matter how long you’ve been together.
2. “What Is Your Favorite Memory Of Us?”
Similar to rehashing the story of how you first met, sharing your favorite memory can also help trigger those new relationship feels. “These types of questions are great because they can either bring forth those fond memories and emotions you once shared, or they can provoke thoughts of your future together, further solidifying your bond,” Stubbs says. So make it a point to take those trips down memory lane together.
3. “When Did You Know I Was ‘The One’?”
This is one of the good ones to talk about during long car trips, over dinner, or just before you go to bed. “It’s great for those moments when it’s just the two of you,” Stubbs says.
4. “How Would You Feel About Bringing A Sex Toy Into The Bedroom?”
Dr. Laura Deitsch, a licensed clinical professional counselor and sexuality experts for Vibrant tells Bustle asking about bringing sex toys into the bedroom (or anything else related to sex) can open communication on what you and your partner both want in bed. Opening up about your sexual desires is one pretty fun way to build emotional intimacy.
5. “What Was The Last Thing I Did For You That You Really Enjoyed?”
“People don’t feel emotionally intimate when their efforts are missed by their partner or go unappreciated,” Wendy Newman, relationship expert and author of 121 First Datestells Bustle. Asking your partner about the last nice thing you did for them will give them a chance to “acknowledge you for the amazing person you are.”
6. “What Were You Like As A Child?”
As Deborah J. Cohan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology from the University of South Carolina tells Bustle, asking questions about childhood can be great for first dates or even later on in a relationship. Questions about childhood can open up for a really fun exchange of stories.
7. “If Time And Money Weren’t Issues, What Would You Really Be Doing With Your Life?”
This question, which Cohan suggests, is a great way to get to know your partner’s true goals and dreams. And, it can also allow your partner to feel supported when you listen to and encourage their goals for the future.
8. “How Do You Think A Past Partner Would Describe You?”
According to Cohan, asking your partner to describe how a past partner would see them is a good question to help cultivate greater emotional intimacy. It can help clue you into how they think they are in relationships, especially if you recently started dating.
9. “Do You Like To Talk About Problems Immediately Or Wait A While To Process Them?”
According to Murray, there’s no prescription to how often you should ask questions. You just do it when the opportunity presents itself. But asking how your partner likes to deal with problems is probably a good one to get out of the way before any problems actually come up.
10. “If You Feel Stressed Or Overwhelmed, How Would You Like Me To Respond?”
Everyone responds to stress differently. Some people shut down and want to be left alone, while others like receiving support from their loved ones. According to Murray, asking how you should respond to when your partner is going through a stressful time can not only bring you closer together, but it can make your life easier when it actually happens.
11. “What Couples Do We Know Have The Kind Of Intimacy You Would Like?”
Both Cohan and Murray suggested asking questions about other couples your partner looks up to. While you should never really compare your relationship to anyone else’s, it’s a good way to get a feel for what your partner believes a successful relationship looks like.
12. “What Are Three Things I Could Do That Would Mean You Want To Break Up?”
Everyone makes mistakes. Knowing which ones would hurt your partner the most is the best way to prevent yourself from making them. That’s why Murray suggests asking this question.
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?”
“You want questions that create depth,” Dr. Saudia L. Twine, Ph.D., NCC, LLPC, LLMFT tells Bustle. “Such questions lead to conversations, which can increase understanding and enhance the relational bond.” Asking fun questions like “If you had a crystal ball…” can lead to some pretty interesting conversations.
14. “If You Could Wake Up Tomorrow Having Gained One Quality Or Ability, What Would It Be?”
As Twine says, “Asking questions is important because it allows you to bond with your partner through engaging and the partner’s responsiveness.” So asking something fun like what your superpower would be can give you insights into your partner’s values in a fun way.
15. “If You Could Turn Back The Clock And Be Any Age, What Was The Happiest Time In Your Life You’d Go Back To?”
This is another great question that would allow your partner to share stories about their past. But the reality is, how you communicate when asking these questions could make all the difference. As Dr. Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, tells Bustle, it’s all about how you go about opening up. “It’s important for both partners to engage in sustained eye contact,” Walfish says. “This requires the utmost vulnerability and intimacy. You can stay deeply emotionally connected to your partner if you take the moment to lock eyes.”
Emotional intimacy in your relationship is important and you really don’t have to do too much extra work to have it. As Celeste Headlee, conversation expert for PlentyofFish tells Bustle, “The most surprising questions are never pre-prepared. The best questions are a product of good listening and good observation. Intimacy comes from true understanding.” All that really requires is listening.