The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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40 Days of Dating – a genuinely thought-provoking experiment by two New Yorkers…

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When people ask me what I did with my afternoon of Tuesday 20th August 2013 I’ll tell them I read. I read a lot. As you all know I’ve not an avid reader of books but I love reading. It is just I struggle sitting with a fiction book as it isn’t real but anything that is real captivates me. Whether that is researching politics or news stories or whether, as in this instance it all about human interaction and dating then I’m all over it like the proverbial fat kid on a smartie.

This afternoon I was pointed to a BBC news story about dating and then to the website with the story – 40 Days of Dating. This is the story of two New York friends who have decided to undergo a rather unusual experiment. They are going to date but there are some ground rules. The ground rules are as follows:

We will see each other every day for forty days.
We will go on at least three dates a week.
We will see a couples therapist once a week.
We will go on one weekend trip together.
We will fill out the daily questionnaire and document everything.
We will not see, date, hookup, or have sex with anyone else.

What makes it interesting for us people who don’t know either of the two people involved is the bit about the questionnaire. They answer a set of questions every single day that has shown the ups and downs of the experiment but also shows how the two of them are truly feeling at every single point. They don’t seem to have pulled any punches and as I read on the more I got enthralled in the pair of them and what they are trying to do.

They are posting their story one day at a time so I caught up and they are currently on Day 36. So only a few days to go until we find out what happened next. Up to this point we’ve seen the two of them grow closer together and despite one of them quitting the experiment briefly it so far seems like a successful venture. When one of them quit it was in part because of what her friends thought would be best for her and that opened up some thoughts in that brain of mine.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t exactly open up to people about these things and prefer to carry my baggage internally and not pass it off on to others. However on the rare occasions I talk to people it isn’t with the goal of getting any advice, I’m possibly a bit too stubborn but I really do think it is my life to lead and my mistakes to make. This is certainly true when it comes to my private life. Friends tell me I should do this or I should do that and I learned pretty quickly that as humans we are all different so what works for one person will not work for another. We are just wired up differently. That is just how it is.

Also I have learned this about myself in that if someone says I should do something then I instinctively think I should do the opposite. I don’t know why this is, maybe it is because I think I can do things myself or maybe that I should do things myself, with no help from anyone else but it is part of me and something I have just dealt with throughout my life.

I made the decision to stop drinking despite most people thinking it is madness. I chose not to sleep with someone unless it felt right. I chose to exclude myself from certain social situations where I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable and wouldn’t enjoy myself. Maybe I do this as some kind of self-defence mechanism and I’m certainly not the type of person who generally puts things on the line until I’m all but certain I won’t get hurt. It’s not like I’ve ever really been hurt before so I don’t even know what it is like but still I don’t put things on the line whereas in all honesty I should but something holds me back.

Still that is one thing that made me think from this experiment. The next comes from Tim:

Some women wait their whole lives to find a “soulmate,” and then they just settle for a guy who’s got a good job, or a guy with a nice apartment, or the guy who will simply stay with them. Jessie is definitely still looking for her soulmate, and I worry about this.

It is something I think about a lot. Even though I’m a guy I see very little point in settling for something with someone who doesn’t really do it for me. I think that is in part a fault but also a solid strength of mine. Many of us are blinded by the ‘Hollywood’ idea of romance and relationships. That things are perfect and everything should be all sweetness and light. The thing is the practical part of my brain knows that relationships are not like that and they are in general hard work. So the question I often ask myself is at what point do I decide a person is worth putting in that time and hard work for?

Now as regular readers and people who know me in real life who attest my dating history is about as successful as a team with Michael Jordan as GM and/or owner. As I wrote yesterday I think in the past few years there has only been two occasions where I felt a date was probably worth time and investment but maybe that is the wrong attitude to have. Who knows what can happen in time and your opinions and feelings change the more you see them – both negatively and positively. These two people were essentially forced by the rules of their experiment to spend time with each other and that in itself is an interesting concept, having to see someone every single day for forty days would scare the living bejesus out of me even if they were my best friend.

Yet again the next thing I want to bring up comes from Tim:

There are girls you date, and there are girls you marry. Jessie is definitely a girl you marry. I think Jessie won’t date a guy she feels like is a waste of her time. There needs to be a real possibility for something more.

Again I’m like Jessie. I won’t waste time or energy on someone that I don’t see something productive coming from. Now whilst my views on marriage are somewhat negative I do certainly want – no yearn – for is something real and not fleeting. However whose to say that my first instincts are right? Maybe someone who I didn’t spark with initially is the right one for me. Last week I had a date that didn’t even last half an hour and in all honesty it was over without seconds and she instead was working out how quickly she could get away without seeming overly rude. Maybe this experiment between two New Yorkers has shown that feelings can develop and people can be more opened up to them in time.

I could go on but what I think I’m trying to write is that this has been a totally enthralling. I love to read about love and relationships in a real life capacity. This particular saga has been quite wonderful to read because the two people have been so forthcoming and open about the whole experience and how they felt every step along the way. I’m not sure how I want their adventure to end. I suppose I want what I always want – for both parties to be happy going forward, whether that is as a couple or not.

What I mostly enjoyed though was it was/is a story we can all use to think about ourselves. I like thinking. I like being challenged (mentally) and humans are just a fascinating species. I see much of myself in both these people and I suspect most of us can identify bits of Jessica and Tim in us. Whilst this was no doubt for both of them, this whole experience is one that I would implore anyone to read up on, certainly if they are single and struggling with that notion, or if they are just lovers of a good human interest story. It has been written up extremely well and would probably lend itself to a book should they want to go down that route.

As for me doing something similar…I wouldn’t want to put anyone through having to see my every day for forty days. I felt sorry enough for my housemates who had to live with me, let alone having to specifically go out of their way to see me for forty straight days. I wouldn’t wish that upon my worst enemy.

As for Jessica and Tim. A heartfelt thank you from some guy in the UK. Your story was/is riveting and thought-provoking and that is just how I like my reading material.

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Written by neilmonnery

August 20th, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Dating

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  1. I don’t want to worry you, but writing a blog on the interweb may result in a few people knowing what you think!

    Andrew Currie

    23 Aug 13 at 6:01 pm

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