“One of the most common reasons people feel drained by friendships is because their friend isn't asking them questions,” says psychologist and friendship expert Marisa Franco, PhD. “It doesn't feel reciprocal, so [asking questions is] a way to demonstrate reciprocity in the friendship, which will make the friendship more sustainable.”
Furthermore, friendship questions to ask your pals can facilitie strong and ongoing connection—after all, there's always more to learn about a person. “The more that we know about our friends, the more likely it is we want to stay in the friendship—and questions are one a way of showing that you affirm and value each other,” Dr. Franco says.
“It's important to know which questions to ask, because it allows you to be open, honest, authentic, and accepted. —Chautè Thompson, LMHC
But why, you might wonder, is it important to ask certain questions rather than just organically go about your friendship? According to relationship therapist Chautè Thompson, LMHC, it's simply not so common to ask friends specific questions with the intention to strengthen a bond and communicate active interest. What's more likely is that folks ask maintenance-style questions, like how their day was or what they had for lunch—but, those hold less power to boost your friendship, says Thompson. “It's important to know which questions to ask, because it allows you to be open, honest, authentic, and accepted,” she says. “It opens up the door for both parties to gain an understanding of who [the other is] and the ways that they can be at their core selves and feel supported and valued.”
Read on to learn a few things to consider if you’re trying to reap the benefits of friendship-strengthening questions as well as a list of 25 of them, according to the therapists.
Things to keep in mind when you’re posing questions to strengthen a friendship
Again, asking someone what they had to eat likely won't boost the platonic relationship. Instead, Thompson and Dr. Franco suggest you ask questions that communicate to your friend that you value them, their feelings, their likes, their dislikes, and their experiences.
Being mindful of your friend’s emotional state is also important to gauge before posing friendship questions. For instance, if you know your friend is going through a particularly difficult time, you might want to suggest different ways you might be able to help them in the form of a question (as opposed to tasking them with telling you what they need in an open-ended form).
You also want to be careful that your questions aren't merely lead-ins to give responses focused on your own experiences and feelings, says Dr. Franco, because that’ll defeat the purpose of asking friendship-strengthening questions in the first place. Instead, you want to practice person-centered communication.
“Person-centered communication means that you're focused on the other person that you communicate with, rather than yourself,” Dr. Franco says. (Read: If someone’s telling you about their vacation, you shouldn't see that as an opening to go on about that one time you went on vacation.)
25 friendship questions to ask to boost your bond, according to therapists
- “How do you like for me to show you that I value you?”
- “What does support look like to you when you’re going through a rough time?”
- “Was it helpful when I did X?”
- “Are you looking to vent or are you looking for advice?”
- “Do you have emotional and mental space to deal with X right now?”
- “What was X like for you?”
- “What kind of gifts do you like to get?”
- “How can I support you right now?”
- “What do you desire in a friend?”
- “What did you enjoy most about your childhood?”
- “When do you have the most fun?”
- “Can I do X, Y, or Z in an effort to help you out?”
- “What does an ideal night out look like for you?”
- “What’s your favorite thing about yourself?”
- “How do you like to resolve conflict?”
- “Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?”
- “How do you feel when I do X?”
- “Where do I have room for improvement in terms of being a good friend?”
- “Would you prefer to do X instead of Y?”
- “What do you think is most beautiful about our friendship?”
- “What’s your favorite memory of us?”
- “What could I have done better when X?”
- “What do you get from this friendship that you don’t get from others?”
- “How can I support you as you’re accomplishing your goals?”
- “What do you think about most (and why)?”
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