A while back I ran across a 2008 post entitled “Deep Rapport Questions” by one Sebastian Flyte, taking the nom de guerre Elysium. I consider it one of the most important posts on game and social interactions I’ve ever read.
The blog has since been taken down, but the content has been preserved by the Internet wayback machine and also by crasch at this post. Elysium says:
I read Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You by Sam Gosling. It was mildly interesting, and like many of these one-word intellectual books popping up (Yes!) had some little gems of curious research splatted here and there.
The most intriguing was a study* by Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York, who wanted to see how long takes to feel a really deep romantic connection with someone. So he got in some guys and girls, and in the space of an hour tried to create intimacy levels that typically take months or years to form. It was called the ‘Sharing Game’ – a sheet of 36 questions was presented to the participants, and they had to ask and answer them with their assigned partner. Both had to answer the questions out loud, to each other, and in the manner of a conversation. Here are some of the questions:
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute the “perfect” day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are living now? Why?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Share an embarrassing moment from your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
There is a momentum here – if you admit you rehearse telephone calls, a minor but revealing thing, you will be more willing to answer the deeper questions. Interestingly, and proof that conventional ‘where are you from’ questions lead nowhere with women, was the control mechanism: a small talk questionnaire for other participants that included questions like “Tell me the names of your brothers and sisters, and where they were born”, and “Where are you from? Name all the places you’ve lived”.
The participants in the deep rapport experiment “didn’t want to part company afterwards; many were seen exchanging cell numbers to keep in contact”.
The participants in the small talk experiment just wanted to get the hell out of there.
These questions should be incorporated into the “truth game” comfort routine, where you say ‘Let’s play the truth game. We ask each other questions, one at a time, and have to tell the truth.” Simple. Simple. Simple.
Over the past few months I’ve been working hard on building emotional connection** with women, exuding warmth and closeness while avoiding the crying-shoulder friend zone that so many guys fall prey to. I had noticed that in my quest to avoid wishy-washy beta-orbiter status, I had suppressed some of my emotional spark. Although I was bold and alpha and creating attraction, it was falling flat on follow-up due to my backing away from riding the emotional wave.
The breakthrough for me was one of Roissy’s Commandments:
IX. Connect with her emotions
Set yourself apart from other men and connect with a woman’s emotional landscape. Her mind is an alien world that requires deft navigation to reach your rendevous. Frolic in the surf of emotions rather than the arid desert of logic. Be playful. Employ all your senses. Describe in lush detail scenarios to set her heart afire. Give your feelings freedom to roam. ROAM. Yes, that is a good word. You’re not on a linear path with her. You are ROAMING all over, taking her on an adventure. In this world, there is no need to finish thoughts or draw conclusions. There is only need to EXPERIENCE. You’re grabbing her hand and running with her down an infinite, labyrinthine alleyway with no end, laughing and letting your fingers glide on the cobblestone walls along the way.
This is the classic sensual wordsmithing that made Roissy the unparalleled king of the the scene – back when it was called the “Roissysphere,” a nod to the fact that it was his world and the rest of us were just blogging in it.
This idea of employing the senses and running aimlessly through a forest of feelings resonated with me. As anyone who reads my blog knows, I can move between topics and spheres of discussion with the best of them.
Searching for a way to heighten my emotional energy in conversation without smiling too much, laughing too much or getting too clingy, I dialed up Elysium’s post. I couldn’t keep more than two of the questions in my head at any one time, but that was enough – one was usually enough to kick-start a conversation in a personal but still safe direction. I wasn’t asking about her past relationships, family history or kink. But I was getting her sharing details about how she worked (or how she thought she worked), building comfort and an image of myself as a deep guy in her eyes.
I’ve actually rolled one of the questions into a standard conversational rejoinder, now a part of my personality rather than a game routine. That question is “before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?” Not only does this function as a rapport builder, it clues me in to a woman’s social demeanor and possibly her introvert/extrovert balance. In two cases it even got women to tell me outright that they worked in public relations and corporate sales respectively, material I used to take the conversation in yet another direction (and not a direction about work – one thing that does not build rapport is talking about your jobs. I actually advise you never say “so what do you do?” in conversation ever again.)
Line for line, this sector of your game is very low-cost to learn. You don’t have to worry about keeping a bold frame like when delivering cocky funny lines, you don’t have to worry about shit-test responses, and you’re very unlikely to get rejected based on these questions (a woman who can’t play along is one that isn’t worth talking to anyway).
You just say the line, listen to her response, and say “…that’s interesting.” Then either follow up on what she said (“what if it was a really important phone call, like a accepting a job offer or with a guy you really liked”) or, if she’s polite, she’ll ask you back the same question and you respond honestly but be one step less revealing than she was to maintain some aloofness.
These topics are winners – women love talking about psychology, especially their own inscrutable natures (let the hamster spin for fun), and so many guys flag out in conversation with the same “where are you from/what do you do/how long have you lived here” boilerplate. Don’t be that guy – be the interesting guy who taught her something about herself.
*The blog author gives the academic citation in a comment: ”The procedure is described in the “Personality and Social Bulletin”, 23,33-377. The experiment itself was by Slatcher, R. B. (2007) “Party of Four: Creating closeness between couples”, University of Texas. He has a 2008 summary called “Effects of couple friendships on relationship closeness”.”
**Great minds think alike.