Thursday, September 12, 2013

40 Days of Discussion

WAIT. Have you finished 40 Days of Dating? If not, A. why? and B. are you the kind of person who hates having the ending ruined? If you are that person, then you should go finish 40 Days before you come back here. We'll still be here when you're done. 

Moving right along...

This blog had my number from Day One. I couldn't look away. It's a great theory on paper--these two friends who suck at relationships for really different reasons, trying to date each other for the first time. I was nervous about them falling into the romantic comedy trap. If you set something up like a movie, suddenly everybody expects you to play it out the right way and end up falling in love. It's dangerous territory. A lot rides on those expectations. 

One of the rules Tim and Jessica set for themselves at the start of the project was to see a couples therapist once a week. I immediately hated that. I'm sure couples therapy has benefits...but I struggle with the idea that it will be helpful for people who just started dating. Do you remember in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? When Kate Hudson is turning up the crazy and suggest couples therapy after a few days and Matthew McConaughey sort of freaks out because it's only been a few days? That's my reaction too.

Is it bad that I'm relating to Matthew McConaughey's character in that movie? ...Let's come back to that another day.

During their first therapy session, the therapist asks a series of questions about the project and each other. There's a huge gap in their reactions...Jessica seems to think it was a good way to get that stuff out in the open, while Tim has a panic attack. This isn't surprising, based on their general relationship issues. (Jessica throws herself in to a relationship, falling hard and fast. Tim dates around and doesn't stick to one woman.) It stands to reason that of course Tim doesn't care to talk about his feelings--that's middle of the relationship stuff. The stuff that Jessica wants to get to--she's not into the flirting and the chase. I totally understand Tim's reaction. 

First I relate to Matthew McConaughey and now Tim. I think you've learned quite a lot about me in this blog post...

Over the course of the project, I can see how some parts of therapy help them as a couple. They're dating in a very unusual reality...they're constructing this relationship, so it makes sense that a third voice could help them through it. I guess. I'm still sweating at all the feelings talk, though. 

The best part of this entire project, for me, was reading two different accounts of the same events. It's fascinating to see that some things were important to one person but were ignored or glossed over by the other. In the final days, when everything was falling apart, Tim details the conversation they had in bed. Jessica doesn't mention the conversation about break-up sex or anything they said. 
You can also see where there are communication breakdowns. There were times when I read one half and just knew it was the wrong thing to say and that the other person would be upset. I found myself speaking to them, more often than I'm proud to admit. "Tim, you should have said goodbye!
Written communication is often the main source of trouble for them. (And by them, I mean everyone.) One day Jessica writes about going dancing with friends. Tim stops replying to her messages, leading Jessica to believe he doesn't care for dancing. Reading Tim's account of the day, you see that Jessica was out with her ex-boyfriend who hates Tim--which is why Tim ends the conversation. (Jessica is one of those people who stays friends with her exes. I want to know how.) Has anyone not fought over misinterpreted texts? 

There were times when I had trouble reading the blog. Sometimes Jessica gets caught up talking about non-relationship issues. She explains in great detail how she and Tim felt about a play they saw. We learn all about Tim's breakfast. She details the plot of her favorite book. Listen, I don't care if Tim likes cheese puffs, you know what I'm saying? Talk about your relationship! (The last time I said that was never.) Her tendency to detail actions is particularly evident at Disney World. Jessica likes to talk about every little thing they did at Disney, while Tim focuses more on their interactions with each other at Disney. Then again, it's also interesting to compare what they focus on, so I guess there's some value in it. (I still don't care about Tim's breakfast, though.)

As the relationship continues, they both start to overthink everything. They're so focused on their past relationship shortcomings, looking for the same patterns to emerge. They get in their own way sometimes and both need to chill the fuck out. For weeks, Tim can't decide if he wants a physical relationship with Jessica because he's afraid he'll lead her on and she'll fall in love and they'll both be back where they started.** Even him holding her hand becomes such a big deal that it doesn't happen until Day Eighteen. 

Another source of stress on their relationship was the question looming over their heads for forty days--what about day 41? A good, solid question, to be sure. Once the project was over and the rules were no longer in play, what did they want? I suspected it wouldn't last, because I'm a bitter, cynical woman with a robot heart. What did you think? 

Before I turn this over to your opinions, just a few random notes I made as I read....
--Tim, you look like Macklemore. That's ok by me.
--Not a fan of Jessica's attitude towards Tim's dating history on Day Five. "What a man whore." No slut shaming, Jessica!
--I will choose not to comment on Jessica's parents' point system to keep "balance" in their relationship. (Day Ten)
--Tim, did you really think using the same cutesy date invite you used on some random in the past would be a good idea? Come on now. 

Overall I have to say I loved this blog and project. I'm all about anything that lets me openly judge another relationship. So, readers--what about you? What did you think of Forty Days of Dating? 

**Spoiler alert.


beatrice said...

Angry. All that 40 days of dating made me feel was anger.

I agree that there was TOO much self analyzing. yet what I hate most MOST MOST is after day 40. We are left high and dry. Lame move.

Amanda said...

I was underwhelmed by the end. I don't know what I wanted...but I wanted more. I'm not even talking about them staying together--I just wanted something.