This is an extraordinary experiment. The blogs are rich in discovery. Worth a read, even if you never intend to go out with your best friend, simply because it gives so many clues about getting to know one another. And that is what so many couples have lost with the attrition of life.
The experiment carried out by two single New Yorkers suggests one course of action for those struggling with relationships
Trying to find a significant other while living in a fast-paced city is a notoriously difficult process, especially as you try to balance all the other things you’re expected to do as a young adult (find enough money to survive, carve out a career, etc). It’s a struggle to get into the habit of dating, and even tougher to turn those dates into meaningful relationships.
We’ve read about many ways to deal with this problem, and have friends and family who fit into every category: singles in their mid- to late-30s, people in Skype-sustained long-distance relationships, serial internet dating players.
But on 20 March 2013 two New York-based designers, Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman, tried something new.
The pair had been friends for years and, on discovering they were single at the same time, decided to date each other for 40 days purely as an experiment.
There was a set of strict rules: they would see each other every day, visit a relationship counsellor once a week, and they would be totally exclusive. Every evening they would separately complete a questionnaire to document their feelings.
The 40 days came to an end on 28 April, but it was only in July that they started publishing the answers on their blog, 40 Days of Dating – capturing the attention of readers worldwide. Walsh and Goodman now have a combined Twitter fan base of more than 40,000, a Vimeo page with hundreds of thousands of views, and have signed up to Hollywood talent agency to handle the onslaught of film offers they’ve received for their story.
So what is the magic that has made 40 Days become a viral hit? The main aspect that people appear to be attracted to is the “what if” scenario. It speaks to the many of us who have that friend in our lives who could have become a lover but things never quite worked out. Often that is for a very good reason, but for many people it’s just a matter of bad timing.
Walsh says some of her favourite feedback has come from readers inspired to make a move on a special someone who had been stuck in the “friend zone”. Prior familiarity definitely caused issues for Walsh and Goodman during the first couple of weeks, as both parties struggled to adjust to a new attitude of togetherness.
At first, it looked unlikely they would fall for each other and both seemed to adopt a rather academic stance. They found it difficult to see each other in a romantic way, and the topic of sex was a real issue from the very start. With friends urging them to consummate their relationship in order to prove it as real, plus their combined tendency to overthink everything, it blew up into such a big deal that it basically became a barrier.
However, as they spent more time together and work through each other’s issues, we could watch them get closer, they opened up, and suddenly it seemed all too possible that their foundation of friendship would provide a solid structure on which to build a relationship. Readers were thrilled when they revealed on day 24-25 that they had finally done the deed. It certainly was a turning point for the pair, although the emphasis has definitely been on the emotional rather than the physical. The blog paused at day 36 and resumes today. The same question haunts every fan’s mind: are they still together? Did they fall in love?
40 Days promotes taking the reins and being decisive: if you embrace compromise, and dedicate enough time and energy to getting to know your other half, learning what’s important to them and sharing your own dreams and opinions honestly, then you have a real chance of creating something wonderful.
40 Days seems to propose a solution to the chronic loneliness of the young city dweller. It’s never too late to redefine your connection with somebody. And given the blog’s impact, it seems certain that many people will now be plucking up the courage to reach out to that one person they’ve always been curious about.
Excerpts from Hannah Slapper’s article for the Guardian
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