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Review: 40 Days of Dating

40 Days of Dating

Sometimes I feel like we’re two aliens, from different planets with different languages, trying to communicate via Skype without electricity. Sigh.

I spent a few hours over the break reading the 40 Days of Dating project. Two designers, friends with opposite attitudes to (and problems in) relationships conduct an experiment in dating each other, for 40 days. The visuals are gorgeous, I can see it making a lovely coffee table book. It’s an interesting concept, applying constraints to life (as you do in design) and making art out of it, and is also a commentary on modern dating – the pressures we create for ourselves, the fears we have.

Every day, they fill out a questionnaire which includes the questions “what did you learn about yourself”, “what did you learn about [the other person]”. I love this. The day by day appreciation of growing closer to another human being, and the day by day realisations about one’s choices and behaviour, and how they effect relationships.

As the time goes on, both play out their fears and habits, but it seems like the strong friendship and the nature of the experiment forces them to continue to see the other person as a human. It’s so easy to objectify, dismiss the concerns and humanity of someone who upsets us, but they keep coming back to the friendship they have, the desire to preserve it, and the commitment to the experiment.

On commitment-phobia:

It makes me think of Dave, a former boss of mine I had right after high school. He eventually became an important mentor and a great friend. He has all these phrases he goes by, stuff like “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” and “never put your hands in your pockets, it’s a sign of laziness.” Anyway, one phrase he says that particularly rings a bell in this case is, “never say ‘I can’t.’” When will I stop saying ‘I can’t’ when it comes to relationships?

On Disneyland:

I have mixed feelings about this place. On the one hand, there is something fascinating about Disney World. There is a high level of detail to every aspect of the operation and the experience, from the hand painted signs and the technology behind the projections and holograms, to the large scale coordinated shows that happen like clockwork. Yet, as Prince Charming passed by us waving, and I watched the little children squeal in excitement, I couldn’t help but think there is something twisted about this place. This whole place just plants expectations in children’s minds that make them think they will grow up to meet the perfect person who will make all their dreams come true. While this kind of storybook love is a positive and a seemingly innocent notion, it’s nearly impossible to live up to.

It’s interesting to think about how this kind of true love is a relatively recent concept in human history. Marriage unions used to be treated in a much more practical manner, often as nothing more than a business arrangement between families. It was only in the last few hundred years that we saw this birth of romanticism throughout culture.

On love:

What does it even mean to love someone? It seems almost impossible to universally define such a complex state of mind since we all experience life so uniquely. I guess love is something you just have to experience and define for yourself. On a whole, I’ve experienced it as being committed to someone I am passionately interested in. Someone who helps me discover aspects of myself I didn’t see before and for whom I can do the same. Someone I trust, respect, and share experiences with. Someone I can be my kind of weird with.

I loved it. It’s realistic, but still heartwarming. Sweet without being saccharine. It reminded me of all the reasons why I can’t really be bothered dating right now, of why relationships I’ve had have failed, and yet also somehow also of the reasons why it is worth trying.

3 replies on “Review: 40 Days of Dating”

I absolutely loved this! I had started dating a friend while they were doing this experiment. I was sad it didn’t work out for them, but it has for us so far 🙂 It was still pretty interesting though and I’ve heard they’re going to turn it into a movie?

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