5 min read

36 Questions That Lead to Self-Love

A woman with a hat, white shirt, and a backpack, looking at a countryside road covered in grass

The Origins

Back in 1997, a group of psychologists led by Arthur Aron published a study on creating closeness in an experimental context — they were focused on manipulating different variables of relationship development. Then, 18 years later, The New York Times published an article called “36 questions that lead to love,” and the internet lost its collective mind. The questions in question (see what we did there?) were taken from Dr. Aron’s study and were used to expedite closeness between two subjects. Today, these questions are circulating on platforms like TikTok and Reddit, where people are happy to share their first date experiences that involved asking THE questions.  

Do They Work?

In short, it depends. The questions are scientifically developed to foster intimacy between the subjects, but the study took other factors into account - like attachment styles and extroversion/introversion. So, as implied, the questions work differently on different personality types. However, according to the internet, they do speed up the process of either closeness or repulsion. The amount of people claiming that the questions lead to marriages or even saved existing marriages is nothing short of impressive, but we noticed something even more interesting - people whose first dates didn’t work out despite, or specifically because of, the questions, still talked about the experience as rewarding, revealing and cathartic. How come? Turns out that we rarely spend time asking ourselves questions - big, small, interesting, scary, funny, basically any questions.  

How to Love Yourself?

In order to develop deep and meaningful connections with others, it’s important to nourish a deep and meaningful relationship with ourselves. That might be the single most important relationship we have in our life — so naturally, it takes a lot of effort, time, patience, understanding, and practice to make this relationship work. And just like with any other relationship, times of turbulence are completely normal. But the key difference is that it’s up to us - and us only - to make that relationship better.   

36 Questions That Lead to Self-Love

So here is a little exercise in self-love - aimed at fostering appreciation, growth, and compassion towards oneself. Resembling the style and the logic of the initial questions - the self-love edition is also divided into three sets that progressively get more intense and personal. So, let’s start with appreciation…  

Set 1: Appreciation

 1. What are three things about yourself that you appreciate today, at this very moment? 

2. What activities make you lose track of time because you enjoy them so much? 

3. Share a small victory from this week that made you smile. 

4. Think about a time when you showed kindness to yourself. What did you do? 

5. Share a memory that always brings a smile to your face. 

6. When do you feel most at peace with yourself? 

7. Share a goal or dream you've achieved that once seemed impossible. 

8. What are three affirmations or mantras that really resonate with you? 

9. Share a dream or aspiration that serves as your motivation and fuels your passion. 

10. Think about a person who loves you unconditionally. What do they admire about you? 

11. What do you believe is your greatest strength, and how do you nurture it? 

12. Reflect on a moment when you felt truly proud of who you are. What was it?


Indeed, when was the last time you had so much fun that you lost track of time? Most of us keep these moments as distant memories from childhood when we had all the time in the world to play, sing, draw, climb trees, read books, and laugh with our friends. From evoking and trying to re-live those moments in our grown-up lives to thinking about what makes us lovable, this set of questions is here to remind us of who we are, what makes us happy, and our inherent worthiness and deservingness of love.


Whenever in doubt, remember to take notice of small victories, nurture your dreams, and acknowledge the qualities that make you beautifully and authentically YOU. For in the embrace of self-appreciation lies the foundation of a life lived with love, joy, and fulfillment.  

Set 2: Growth

13. What do you prioritize in life, and how does it reflect your values? 

14. Think about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone. What did you learn? 

15. If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be? 

16. Describe a recent challenge you faced and how you overcame it. 

17. When was the last time you stood up for yourself or your beliefs? 

18. Was there a moment of self-discovery that changed your perspective? 

19. What's one thing you can do today to show yourself more love and kindness? 

20. What advice would you give to someone struggling with self-doubt? 

21. Think about a compliment you received recently. How did it make you feel? 

22. What was a recent setback or failure you experienced and, most importantly, what did you learn from it? 

23. What do you love most about yourself? 

24. Is there something about your character that you don’t like and why, and how would you like to change it?  


If you could talk to your younger self, would you? Would you give yourself advice to take more risks (or not to risk at all), to study more (or go out more), to learn a craft (or a language), to travel the world (or grow a garden), to commit yourself to a relationship (or to experience freedom), or would you let yourself be yourself at that moment of time? 


This set of questions calls us to reflect on the problems we've faced, the lessons we've learned, and the growth that followed, shaping us into who we are today. Remember that every experience, whether positive or negative, makes us evolve - so cherish your obstacles, and celebrate your victories, for only when both exist, change is possible. Wes Anderson said it best through a protagonist in his Moonrise Kingdom: when asked what did she want to be when she grows up, Suzy answered: "I don't know. I want to go on adventures, I think. Not get stuck in one place." In the pursuit of self-love, as well as in life, we may never cease to evolve and to learn. 

Set 3: Compassion

25. What small acts of kindness can you offer yourself daily to reduce stress and nurture your mental and emotional health? 

26. Think about the things you're not good at but enjoy doing anyway. What is it about these things that makes them enjoyable for you? 

27. Reflect on a difficult decision you made in your life. What did you learn from that experience? 

28. Describe a time when you forgave yourself for a mistake or shortcoming. 

29. Describe your proudest moment of personal growth. 

30. Think about someone in your life who should extend more compassion towards oneself - what are they doing "wrong"? 

31. How can you be kind to yourself in moments of failure? 

32. Describe a place where you feel completely at home within yourself. Remember to visit it often. 

33. What affirmations can you use to remind yourself of your inherent value and worthiness of love? 

34. Think about the fear or insecurity you've overcome. How did you do it? 

35. When facing a problem, how can you offer yourself the same level of empathy and support that you would offer a close friend in a similar situation? 

36. Consider a negative thought or belief you hold about yourself. How can you reframe this belief with self-compassion and self-love, focusing on your inherent worthiness rather than perceived shortcomings?   


As we conclude our exploration of self-love (in this article, as exploring self-love should be ever-evolving and life-long), we want to remind you of the transformative power of kindness, empathy, and forgiveness — especially towards ourselves (Somehow it feels that we're most reluctant when it comes to forgiving ourselves). 


Come back to these questions in times of need - when you doubt yourself, are mad at yourself, and think you're not appreciated. Hopefully, they will help you connect with yourself, celebrate your successes, embrace vulnerability, tell that self-doubting voice to tone down a bit, and give compassion to the deepest corners of your being. And always remember, self-love is the foundation of every love. Happy Valentine's Day from your friends at MYSA!

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