It’s no joke: making friends is hard. Falling in love? Feels even harder. (Even if you’re organized.) The whole process takes time and effort. (Not to mention sorting through all the red and green flags.) But what if there was a secret to forming a connection—and fast? Enter the 36 questions that lead to love. Originally a 1996 study looking at the possibility of fostering affection between strangers, now they’re something of a phenomenon, including a Jubilee series that went viral in 2017. But they’re still as relevant as ever—even Netflix’s Queen Charlotte co-stars India Amarteifio and Golda Rosheuvel recently put it to the test.
In the original study, the questions were broken up into three sets that progressively ramped up the intimacy factor. Set 1 included questions such as “What would constitute a perfect day?” and “For what in your life do you feel most grateful?” Meanwhile, Set 3 dove deep, asking, “When did you last cry in front of another person?” and “Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find the most disturbing?” The conclusion of the study found that fostering intimacy and trust was possible, and honestly, these questions do come in a clutch if you’re nervous about making conversation but want to cut the small talk. Let’s face it, though: 36 questions are a lot of questions. I tried them at a recent dinner with a new-ish friend and we made it through...four questions in...two hours. So what if you only have time for a few? We asked Dating.com vice president Maria Sullivan to weigh in on her top three picks.