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36 Questions That Lead to Love

Philippe Pache love

Photographer: Philippe Pache


By Saida M

When I was growing up, the idea or a romantic partnership was defined by a long, monogamous marriage between a man and a woman. I remember how hard it was for my father to explain Boy George’s sexual orientation to me. In his mind I couldn’t possibly be exposed to that type of love. So I didn’t realize that same sex love was possible until I was in my teens.

I didn’t discover that is was absolutely normal until much later in life.

Andrew Eccles Photography (r) love

Andrew Eccles Photography (r) — with Raimondo Chessa.

The unfortunate truth is, I was deprived from knowledge about any kind of “out of the ordinary” love until about 7 years ago, when a sex positive community in New York embraced me. Suddenly, a whole new world of love, acceptance and female empowerment opened up for me.

It both terrified and fascinated me.

Terrified, because the more I found out about female sexuality and relationships through my own experiences and by watching dialogs unfold between members of our tribe, the more I realized the depth of despair that we humans are in. By denying ourselves the right to exploration in love, we have turned inwards so much, it’s is easier for us to hate and abolish one another than to understand and accept the vast opportunities for freedom that loves brings. By putting the stamp of taboo on sex that isn’t part of a romantic or “serious” partnership, we have perversely pigeonholed the meaning of sexual connection and subsequently of the love that often accompanies it. We only know one “right” way, but there are in fact so many!

Who would have thought that I’d feel more empowered and safe as a woman while barely clothed at a sex party than in any public club in New York City?”

I was fascinated by my new realizations because suddenly a lot of things about myself that I had found burdensome were now not only explained, scientifically sound, and astonishing (and sometimes all three), but as a result also seemed…normal. Who would have thought that I’d feel more empowered and safe as a woman barely clothed at a sex party than in any club in New York City? I sure hadn’t. But that’s the way it turned out. I learned the actual definition of consent from this community.  A concept, incidentally, that mainstream culture still seems to struggle with. I learned that not even touching me is okay unless I am first asked for permission (permission can take many forms, a nod or wink can be permission, but it’s important that permission is sought). I have learned that BDSM can be therapy and that dominatrixes mostly have male clients who want to be humiliated by women and that the work is deeply therapeutic.

And who would have thought that I’d be OK to talk about it all without the fear of being judged?! Now, for the first time in my life, I was comfortable being the woman that I am. And it eventually spilled into the rest of my life, significantly improving my self-esteem as well as my life.

I always knew my approach to love was different, but until now I didn’t know it was actually a form of normal. Apparently, you can love two people at the same time in very different ways? You can be a third in a relationship and have everyone be OK with it? You can have a boyfriend and be married? All these kinds of loves and no one told me?

But why?

Why are we so afraid to love outside of the “norm”?

I think the more we understand love, the more we connect to each other as humans. Love doesn’t have to be romantic in the same way that sex doesn’t have to be restricted to a romantic relationship — the latter at least is something most people now accept. Love fosters compassion and creates trust between all the parties involved when everyone is ready to check their egos at the door and really learn from each other. Even if it means being wrong when you were sure you were right. When you least want it. That’s when you grow. If you lock your feelings inside, unexplored, you will end up in a prison, screaming while no one can hear you.

I believe that mutual vulnerability creates the deepest closeness.  I believe that if you open up to each other, you can change the way you progress as a human. And by doing that also have a positive effect on others around you. If you are not afraid to be vulnerable, your heart is more open. You are able to feel the world freely, to explore your nature, seek balance through your inner peace and not solely through your relationships with others.

Photographer: Laura Zalenga love ballet

Photographer: Laura Zalenga


These 3 sets of questions below are intended to bring you closer!

To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” Mandy Len Catron’s essay, refers to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron which states that you can significantly accelerate closeness between two people if you do this series of 36 questions.  They are intentionally designed to break some barriers and make you open up to each other.

Mandy Len Catron recommends looking into each others’ eyes for at least 2 minutes before doing this set of questions to establish a connection. “Two minutes is just enough to be terrified,” she says (here). “Four really goes somewhere.”

So, let’s see if we can get closer today. Maybe even break some barriers?

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?


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 him or her 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 he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Information source:

You can now hear the essay “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This” read by the actress Gillian Jacobs in Modern Love: The Podcast. Look for the “play” button below or subscribe on iTunes or Google Play Music. To try the 36 questions described below, download our free app for your phone, tablet or other devices.