What part of your personality do you dislike the most?
What happened during your day?
What's on the horizon for you?
What do you want to happen after you die?
What is a perfect day to you?
What is your most embarrassing moment?
How was your day?
What is the worst thing that could happen in this situation?
What do you think?
What do you want to do more than anything else before you die?
What are your fears?
If you had time to learn something new, what would it be?
If you really knew me, did you know that...?
How can I help you today?
What do you like in bed?
What makes you cry?
I sense a tension between us. Do you feel it, too?
What makes you happy?
What's your favorite thing about me?
"This question, if answered sincerely and without holding back, humanizes the other person," says Dr. John Mayer, a practicing clinical psychologist who specializes in families. "But the key is to encourage each other to answer honestly." By not holding anything back, your response could help increase the level of empathy your partner feels for you and vice versa. "Answering superficially won't have the impact of deepening the relationship," he cautions.
"As relationships age, we get into routines, and our conversations with our partners become more like recaps of events and planning sessions for the next day," Dr. Piper Grant, clinical psychologist and founder of Numi Psychology says. "Think back to beginning of your relationship, when there was a genuine sharing and interest in things that happened in each others lives. Try to encourage the sharing of things that aren't about planning or tasks." The info you share doesn't have to be major or life-altering, Grant adds. "It could be something trivial, a thought that came to you that day, or something funny. Something like 'You know, today when I was grocery shopping, I thought about that time we went to the store and everything fell over in the middle of the aisle.'"
"Early in a relationship, we share our hopes, dreams, and wishes with each other," Grant says. "But as a relationship goes on, we sometimes stop talking about those things because we either think we know our partner, it doesn't seem like there is space to talk about those things anymore, or it seems like there is a lack of interest." That kind of attitude can make a relationship feel stagnant. "Talking about the future is very important, because it speaks to us thinking about the future with our significant other," says Grant. "Share something you're looking forward to or starting to think more about. It might not specifically include your significant other, but it sparks conversations that can be fun, dreamy, and light."
"Although death is not a romantic topic, it is something that can bring a couple much closer," says Bonnie Winston, a celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert. "Topics like whether you'll be buried near each other or what you want written on your tombstones can be enlightening."
"This is a great question that can be used when you need a topic of conversation over the phone or on a date," Lori Bizzoco, relationship expert and founder of CupidsPulse.com, says. "It's a question that requires them to dig deep, as they probably don't ask themselves this on a daily basis. It can help reveal aspects that are important to them, what they enjoy the most, or what makes them the happiest."
"Having your partner share their most embarrassing moment is a great way to get closer," Bizzoco says. "It's forces them to lower their guard and become vulnerable by opening up about something that they might not want other people to know."
"I think my biggest piece of advice is to start with the word 'how'," says Jeff K. Larsen, licensed marriage and family therapist. "'How' implies the need to understand. 'How do you feel about that?' as opposed to the more accusatory 'Why?' Using 'how' means the person is seeking to understand the others' point of view, which can help to build deep intimacy and can do wonders for a romantic relationship."
It's a simple question, but it can lead to a deeper understanding of one another, says Maggie Reyes, life coach and founder of ModernMarried.com. "Psychologically, understanding what your partner is going through is critical to creating a strong, thriving relationship. The core of any romance is really friendship, so everything you do to build that friendship is time well spent." Don't worry if you feel like you don't have anything significant to share. "Regular communication about fun, exciting or mundane, everyday things is what builds your communication muscle for when you have more sensitive issues to talk about," says Reyes.
"Today, stress runs high, and a couple's ability to create a soothing, peaceful home is critical," says Karolina Pasko, a registered divorce and sex therapist, says. "Stress or deadlines can be an opportunity for you to learn more about your partner's core fears and desires. This question will help you have a stress-reducing conversation in a way that brings more intimacy and closeness to your relationship."
"This question should be used with abundance in every context to keep a pulse on your partner's thoughts and emotions and to keep them engaged and feeling valued," says Margaux Cassuto, founder of ThreeMatches.com. "For example, 'It's a beautiful day to enjoy a run by the beach, what do you think?' 'I was really upset by that news story. What do you think?' It promotes a constant and honest dialogue and that in turn fosters a sense of closeness."
"Ask questions that have to do with passion and life purpose, and that convey a deep meaning to someone," says relationship expert Audrey Hope. "This will engage you both and open up a gateway to a person's inner life." Just keep in mind that these kinds of questions should be reserved for quiet moments, Hope adds, like over an intimate dinner, or in bed after the kids are asleep.
"This question is very important is romantic relationships and friendships," says licensed marriage and family therapist Mercedes Coffman. "If you can find out what someone is afraid of, you have significant insight into what moves them." Coffman notes that talking about fears is one of the quickest ways to establish a closeness with someone: "Once a person is informed of another's passions and fears, he or she instantly becomes a trusted source, allowing more intimacy in that relationship."
"Overall, what you're looking for are things that have emotional resonance for your partner," says licensed marriage and family therapist Jill Whitney. "What touches him? What makes her feel energized? What intrigues him? Those sorts of things give you insight into the core of your partner as he or she is today. You get to know each other as the ever-evolving people you are."
"There is one exercise that I often prescribe to couples to bring them closer together," says licensed therapist Tamika Lewis. "I encourage clients to complete a few rounds of 'If you really knew me, you would know that....' The exercise has a way of breaking down walls and introducing more vulnerability into a relationship."
"It's a simple way to let your partner know that you are attentive and tuned into their needs, that you are available, and that you want to be a helper for them," Erin Wiley, a licensed clinical psychotherapist, says. "It's a great way to foster deeper connection. A spouse or significant other that feels cared for also feels valued and loved."
"A good question — albeit a difficult one — to ask is what they like in bed," says relationship expert Esme Oliver. "It's important to know your partner's sexual needs are being met." Sex may be only one component of a healthy bond, but "it's significant," Oliver adds. "You want to make sure the sex, for both of you, is great. Hopefully, you'll get the truth and work towards a more intimate and fulfilling relationship."
"When we open to and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with another person, we feel closer to them, and when they share back, that closeness grows even more," says Wendi L. Dumbroff, a licensed professional counselor. "It can be a very beautiful experience to be able to share our deepest longings, thoughts, fears, and what makes us tick."
"Anytime a couple can talk about what's really going on, their difficult feelings, and negative thoughts, though it can be hurtful, it will also bring them closer together," psychotherapist Toni Coleman explains. "Couples get into trouble because they ignore or avoid hard talks and over time and they grow further apart. Intimacy is all about being completely — warts and all — in front of the other person."
"How this is phrased is key because it's not past or future — not what made you happy or what will make you happy," Sunny Rodgers, sexologist and sexuality expert, says. "It focuses you on each other right now, causes both partners to actually stop and think about what does make them happy, and also gives them something positive to work towards."
"This is a 'gratitude' type of exercise that requires focusing on the best attributes of your partner," Rodgers says. "These types of questions can aid relationships that are, quite honestly, stuck on a negative path." Thinking about what you love most about each other can provide a road map towards a better future together, Rodgers notes: "Often neither partner knows how to change the direction of their relationship. This can help each partner start to see each other in a new light."