What would it be like to design your own relationship? Everyone has a wistful ideal partner in mind, but what if it were as simple as spending 40 days with a friend and seeing if you could develop feelings for them? They’re designing their own meet-cute; and isn’t that the dream?
Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman, two designers in New York City, decided to conduct a 40-day experiment and date each other. They document their encounters each day, go to weekly couple’s therapy, and each answer the same questionnaire as they grow in this new-level relationship with each other, and clueing everyone in on their website, 40 Days of Dating.
The big question would be: well, why don’t they just date other people? They anticipated all these types of questions on their website stating:
It’s been said that it takes 40 days to change a bad habit. In an attempt to explore and hopefully overcome their fears and inadequacies, Tim and Jessica will go through the motions of a relationship for the next 40 days: the commitment, time, companionship, joys and frustrations. Can they help each other, or will they fall into their same habits? Will they damage their friendship? What if they fall in love?
Relationships are so inherently personal and this fledgeling one is projected for everyone to see. Then again, that is the nature of this generation. These are two people who have reached their dating thresholds; they have exhausted themselves, romantically, and are opening that door and seeing what could be possible with someone they’d misattributed as “just a friend.” What makes them both so jaded? Jessica is too intense and falls in love too quickly, whereas Tim is a no-strings attached kind of guy looking to finally have something serious (or more accurately whether or not he is capable of commitment).
It’s human drama at its best and worst, and DAMN it is addictive. They’re both very successful designers and are extremely busy as a result. So their troubles stem from deeply-seated trust issues, chronic health problems, bad habits, and trying to find time for each other. It’s a relationship just like any other, but amplified. I think what is most appealing, aside from the drama, is the extremely analytical nature of the experiment. In answering the questionnaire every night, their openness is refreshing and insightful. The 40 Days of Dating site is incredibly beautiful in terms of the layout, but also in that it’s interactive –filled with videos and intricate artwork capturing the essence of each day’s experience with one another.
Their openness to the world is a double-edged sword, of sorts. One consequence is the pressure of everyone’s attention- either rooting them to succeed or damning them to fail. Tim seems to feel the brunt of this social pressure as his fear of commitment, paired with the doubt of his friends, undermines his desire to make it work with Jessica. He seems to see the finish line much more clearly than Jessica, and he still doesn’t know what will happen once they reach the looming 40-day mark.
I’ve always been one to believe that a relationship is something that only works if the two people involved become their best selves. I think 40 Days of Dating really speaks to that theory, especially in seeing how both Tim and Jessica confront each other about their respective shortcomings. Because of this 40-day bubble, they can push away outside romantic interests and reflect on the issues that stand in the way of cultivating a healthy relationship with someone.
Is this an idea that will change how people approach love and relationships? Maybe so. No doubt, people will try to recreate this experiment as a “relationship cleanse.” That might not be such a terrible notion. Tim and Jessica’s 40 Days of Dating has demonstrated that personal growth is more imperative than finding “love”– their past relationships are evidence of that. It goes without saying that everyone has faults, but you can’t expect to achieve relationship bliss if your bad habits and trust issues undermine your ultimate happiness.
Their project is now in the home stretch, with only five days left. It’s hard to speculate how exactly this project will end once the bubble pops. It’s a social experiment that, if anything, exposes the effects of truly being involved with another person. If you haven’t read 40 Days of Dating yet go NOW! Start from the beginning and read the good, the bad, and let the shipping commence (friendSHIP or relationSHIP, you decide).
Screenshots taken from fortydaysofdating.com