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Couples Experiment: Treat Each Other Like Strangers

Inner Adult

Attention couples: Try this for one day.

Disclaimer: If your partner is not a safe person, this activity may not be appropriate.

Here is the experiment: Pretend your partner is a (safe) stranger. Act like you just met him or her.

Therefore, you don’t really ‘know’ where he or she is coming from. It’s as if you’ve just met…

Why do this?

1. It makes life more interesting.

2. This activity fosters a new boundary in the relationship, which is often a good thing.

How do you treat strangers? More importantly, how do you NOT treat strangers?

With strangers, you typically do not:

1. Assume they are trying to make your life difficult.

2. Get so annoyed by everyday behaviors.

3. Stand ready for an argument.

With safe strangers, you typically do:

1. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

2. Mind your manners.

3. Put your best foot forward.

4. Ask more questions from a place of curiosity.

In other words, with safe strangers, we are typically prepared to be interested and polite. Politeness theory suggests that being polite regulates social distance. When you are enmeshed with your partner, polite distance may be appropriate.

Better yet, we are often curious because we have fewer preconceived notions and no past negative experiences that haunt our thoughts.

Aren’t these attributes appropriate for a relationship of any age? You can go there in your current relationship, regardless of how long you have been together.

This is a fun activity to do together with your partner. And if your partner cannot/will not participate, then you can do this one solo.

So, try it for one day. Or, try it for an hour one evening. Then, tweet about your experience with hashtag:


If you like this article, then like my Facebook Page to keep up with all my writing. To learn about the #1 online couples program, check out the Dating, Relating, Mating program.

Couples Experiment: Treat Each Other Like Strangers

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2015). Couples Experiment: Treat Each Other Like Strangers. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Mar 2015
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