40 days of dating: A public experiment in private dating
Plenty of millennials with internet access may have had their hearts crushed from the latest internet sensation and social experiment, 40 Days of Dating.
Relationships today are clouded with everything but the c-word: commitment. Hooking up with others is integrated into the modern-day relationship, and the practice of dating someone exclusively is considered extinct.
Founders and subjects of the project, Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman, were friends for the past four years and colleagues at different stages of their romantic lives. They both decided to try dating one another, but gave themselves the time period of 40 days for the fact that “it takes 40 days to change a bad habit,” according to their website.
Whether the habits were either diving into relationships too soon or never settling down, the pair established a clear set of rules to abide by over the experiment to avoid any preventable tensions.
They would only date each other exclusively for 40 days, they must go on dates three days a week and they will see a couples therapist every week. In addition, there will be a daily questionnaire completed by both to chronicle the 40 days and they will go on one weekend trip together. Finally, they will not see, “hookup” or have sex with anyone else.
The rules, albeit restrictive, do not detract from the experiment’s execution and development.
The blog is aesthetically beautiful. Various graphic designers contributed to the couple’s blog banners on a daily basis, incorporating gifs and videos that add another virtual dimension to the couple’s blog.
“The blog is very aesthetically pleasing, and I get that it’s because they’re both designers, but it’s sleekness made the actual content feel contrived at times,” said UMW alumna Emilie Begin. “I want to believe they did this experiment as a means of personal reflection, but it can sometimes come across as Jessie [Jessica] and her design firm’s latest project.”
The blogging itself is revelatory. Jessica and Timothy are required to answer the same survey questions separately at the end of every day as an exercise to determine where their relationship is going.
“It’s been interesting to see how the two friends learned about themselves as individuals throughout the experiment, and how it took dating each other to get there. I appreciated the couple’s honesty,” said Begin.
Similar to the structure of any relationship, readers experience the couple’s initial anxiety, including the first time they kiss, their dates and their fights. The uncertainty for both constantly rises and falls, but readers find themselves engaged and invested in the exploration of whether these two can, and will, fall in love.
But why blog about this? Alumnus Tom Ella, who recently started reading the blog, admitted, “I just got to day eight. It’s such a cool idea.”
The daily reflection of how someone sees the other allows readers to compare reactions and responses to their own relationships. Making it transparent allowed plenty of individuals and media outlets to question how anyone dates, and what is considered the “norm.”
“I think a lot of us…saw a bit of ourselves and our past relationships in the couple,” Begin said.
On Friday, Sept. 6, Timothy and Jessica concluded the experiment. While the site is still intact, real-time information about the pair’s relationship will no longer be available to the public.
Do the pair make it? It is not too late to join the bandwagon and become as immersed and introspective about the project as the participants. One question however, will linger after scrolling through fortydaysofdating.com: is forty days enough?