Fortunately, this practice can be as easy as asking a few key questions to build emotional connection. According to licensed psychotherapist Gary Brown, PhD, LMFT, the genuine, sincere discussion that tends to follow allows your partner to know you care about them since it promotes compassion, empathy, and love.
“If [your question] starts with, ‘What,’ ‘How,’ or, ‘Why,’ then you're probably on the right track.” —Annalise Oatman, LCSW
With that in mind, it’s important to note that not all questions are adept at accomplishing this. Psychotherapist and Deeper Well Therapy founder Annalise Oatman, LCSW, says connection-boosting questions are often open-ended since they invite your partner to—you guessed it—open up. Her golden rule for knowing a given question fits the bill? “If [your question] starts with, ‘What,’ ‘How,’ or, ‘Why,’ then you're probably on the right track,” Oatman says.
So to boost intimacy and chemistry, read on for 10 therapist-backed questions to build emotional connection that you and your partner can discuss.
10 questions to build emotional connection in a relationship, according to therapists
1. If we could create your perfect day—or your perfect life—what might that look like?
Dr. Brown says this open-ended question gives your partner a platform to openly discuss their hopes, dreams, and desires with you. This, in turn, can help you better understand and connect with your partner.
2. What is one way I’ve disappointed you that you’ve never shared or that feels unresolved? How can I make it up to you?
Being vulnerable with your partner can seem scary, but doing so is quite valuable for fostering and maintaining a sense of intimacy. “Resentment is a libido annihilator, so really working toward repair with humility can move partners closer toward re-establishing intimacy and connection,” says certified sex therapist and licensed psychologist Kate Balestrieri, PsyD, founder of therapy practice Modern Intimacy. “This question is important because so many couples avoid difficult subjects, and resentment builds.”
If and when your partner confides in you, Dr. Balestrieri advises staying cool, calm, and collected. “It feels safe and validating when a partner can acknowledge they’ve done something hurtful and earnestly tries to make it better without getting defensive," she says.
3. What's your favorite memory?
While this question may seem super vague, your partner’s response can provide incredible insight into their core values, morals, and beliefs. Also, “knowing what made the memory special can help us develop a more intimate understanding of your partner,” says therapist Saba Harouni Lurie, LMFT.
4. What would you like to be appreciated for?
If we aren’t open about our emotional needs, resentment can begin to build up (and eventually erupt.) “Everyone has things they wish they were more appreciated for,” says Oatman. By taking the time to ask your partner what they’d like to be appreciated for, you’re inviting them to speak freely and candidly about their wants, needs, and expectations. In turn, you can work on expressing gratitude accordingly.
5. If you could change one thing about how you grew up, what would it be?
According to Lurie, this question invites reflection and vulnerability, which is essential for your relationship to thrive. Moreover, taking the time to learn about your partner’s challenges allows you to emphasize and support them more effectively.
6. Is there an activity or experience you’d like to do together? Is there something new or different you’d like to learn or explore?
As you spend more time with your partner, you may begin to think that you know them inside and out. However, this is not necessarily the case (nor should it be).
To inject some spice into your routine and facilitate learning more about one another, psychotherapist Renee Sher-McMeans, LMFT, recommends trying new activities and experiences together to keep your relationship fun, fresh, and exciting.
7. When you're worried about something, what helps you feel better?
We all feel anxious or overwhelmed at times, and having the support of a loved one (like a romantic partner) can help to guide us through such difficultly. Asking your partner about how they deal with stress will provide you with meaningful insight on how to best support them during such instances, Lurie says. She also advises discussing this with your partner when they feel at ease to help you access the information with more ease.
8. What have you always dreamed about receiving sexually or emotionally but never told me before?
Sexual fantasies are common, and revealing them to your partner can help bring you closer, with regards to physical intimacy. “It can be incredibly exciting and intimacy-deepening to courageously look your partner right in the eye and share one of your secret yearnings,” says Oatman.
9. What makes you feel most loved?
“Couples [often] break up because of a simple misunderstanding about how to make one another feel loved,” says Oatman. Since different people feel loved in different ways, it’s important to work to understand why and how your partner prefers to receive love, and to adjust your communication accordingly.
For example, while you may feel like you’re working hard to make your partner feel loved by showering them with gifts, they may prefer meaningful notes or hugs to feel loved. Ultimately, it all comes down to communication.
10. What's something you've always wanted to do but haven't done yet? What has stopped you?
“This question allows us to consider our future hopes and also what has kept us from pursuing our desires,” says Lurie. In other words, when you have a deeper understanding of your partner, you’re able to support and encourage them to push themselves outside of their comfort zone and try new things so that they can achieve their dreams and face their fears.
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