Posted in News
August 5, 2013

I Double Dare Ya: 40 Days of Dating is Mega-Addictive

images-2by Madeline Iva

PROJECT DARE YA: This project has a fairly simple premise.  Two friends who are part of a group of friends decide to try forty days of dating each other.

They agree on some basic rules, and they know they’ll be facing the relationship issues that have kept them single so far.

I posted it on SSRU–with a warning that it could lead to serious time suckage, and I did not lie.  I mean, those who love romance will not be able to help themselves.


Jessie & Tim, New Yorkers, friends...soul mates?
Jessie & Tim, New Yorkers, friends…soul mates?

WHAT SUCKS YOU IN: Tim’s eternal optimism and romantic mindset.  Jessie’s sincere desire to love and be loved is very loveable.  Then there’s the romance of the city, the frailty of a woman alone, the hurt of a guy raised fatherless and knowing it’s probably impacting his chances of being forever-happy.

IT’S ACTUALLY A MENAGE:   NYC is as much a part of the mix as the sexual chemistry.  All the conventions and mores of NYC are at play and have a definite impact.  The guy is a player/self confessed commitment-phobe who loves the hunt.  Since NYC is a petri-dish of playerdom, he’s been able to indulge in his behavior pretty freely for a long time.

The gal meanwhile, is a complicated waif woman who exemplifies the highly strung career gal.  Her fragile and (I would say) unnecessarily moody take on things winds up making her as stressed as an overbred Chihauha. On the other hand–this is NYC.  Perhaps not as toxic as L.A. but certainly not all hearts & roses when it comes to putting your feelings out there.

images-5We watch her descent from (she says) unhealthy work-a-holic habits into a sort of prescription drug madness.  The side effects begin to cripple her life, though she says she could try eating better, exercising more, etc.  And she says she doesn’t like drama.  Hmp.

Yet in a broader sense, the NYC setting contains all the usual big city tropes: the high level performance of a glamorous social life (if you’re an arty type) that can lead to getting the best out of life, sure.  Yet can also seem to outsiders like a perpetual treadmill of strain and exhaustion.

The ticket price of eternal wine-ing and dining is not cheap especially when it comes to not enough sleep and not enough time to just chill–and these issues must have an impact on their relationships.  I’m like a wolverine when it comes to getting enough sleep–I can only imagine what it’s like for Jessie.

images-4This project also shows Tim encountering that city conundrum.  You’d think you’d be annonymous in such a massive dating pool, but no–former lovers DO haunt the streets and happily rat you out to other women with all the bittersweet snark of a Sex & The City episode.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? Voyeuristic thrills aside, I’ve grown impatient for more.  I’m up to date twenty-six and it’s driving me crazy that date twenty-seven isn’t published yet.  Common people! I’m dying to know what’s happening! I even dreamed about Jessie last night.

While this project may be garnering them so much attention –using romance as self-promotion/career promotion (?) and may leave mature folks clutching their hair — why can’t people just meet and fall in love these days? Why does the web have to be so involved? At the same time I gotta respect people taking a big look in the mirror and attempting (with that internet audience holding them accountable) to change those deeply entrenched behaviors.

Tim & Jessie are both designers — thus all the nifty signs on their website.

CAN THEY REALLY CHANGE ?: I’m tempted to say ‘fearlessly facing the mirror’ — but actually it’s more like fearfully facing the mirror.  Which brings us to another point.  We all know our flaws at a certain age.  Attempting to change them is either heroic or exhausting after thirty–probably both.  While the joys of friendship and chemistry make it easy for Tim & Jessie at times, the couples therapist and the commitment to the project keep them crawling along during the hard moments.  Will they ultimately manage to change?

Jessie seems more committed to the project than to the chance of really loving Tim–but who knows how heart-sore she is after all those years in NYC?  She seems to have a really hard time with getting some distance on the bad stuff and at the same time cutting a guy some slack…she seems to lack power in a relationship and only results to ultimatums.  Not to get all old school, but come hither is a completely unknown expression for her. I don’t think she’s aware of how you can get a guy to feel a sense of play when it comes to doing his bit.

commitmentphobe7AND THE MORALE IS: But what do we learn as an audience?

Well, that perpetual catnip I call “How Do Guys Think” is definitely at play.

I mean,  Tim seems to have been blithely moving forward in his string of relationship, not really looking back.  Yet during the project bad karma comes out to bite him on the ass a few times, and he’s admittedly defensive, but probably also smarting from time to time.  To turn around and for once face the short term relationship wreckage he’s strewn behind him can’t be easy.

Now he’s getting into some healthy soul searching. I have hope for Tim. He walks into this relationship very much not wanting to be a cad.  Kudos for him!

Anyway, isn’t it an encouraging sign for our society that man-whores are facing more of a social hit than they used to?

I also learned yet again how basic some relationship skills are.   Reading the posts I often want to say to the would-be couple my usual mantra: ‘Just hug each other already!’

People who regularly find opportunities to turn to each other and express admiration, kindness, affection, consolation, and understanding — whether in the male form or the female form–have the secret rocket fuel that greases the tracks of a new relationship.  This is the stuff that hurls couples past so many bumpy moments.  Basically getting a gooey and huggy with each other builds up those happy chemicals–that’s what I’m talking about.  I hope this couple discovers such a basic tool before they exhaust each other and their readers. Yes, they will do things to make uplifting moments happen–but they’re like art projects.  Folks, we don’t need such complicated gestures.  An immediate hug often outdoes a late night i-made-this-just-for-you video.

images-3Tim seems a little closer to mastering the art of immediate affection than Jessie is.  She gets hunkered down into a sad state and turns inward for strength, never outward for the chance to back up, lighten up, take the hand that’s offered her, and move on.  This project is to some degree making her do that–and she knows she needs to–but will she finally get it and continue that behavior after the project?

PLACE YOUR BETS: I would love to start a betting pool on whether they make it or not.  As someone in a multi-decade relationship, I feel qualified to handicap their prospects.

On the ‘yea’ side is the fact that they did this project in the first place–I don’t think they’d have tried it if they seriously didn’t see the strong potential for it to work.  Also propinquity has no doubt come into play.  Those endlessly busy NYC lives make potential romances into the equivalent of neglected houseplants, getting little daily attention and dying rapidly.  There’s a deep comfort in knowing that you’ll see someone everyday–especially someone who comes with a side of sparkity-sparklies just for you.  I’m still waiting for Jessie to show an “aw, Tim!” kind of pleasure in seeing him every day.  Maybe she does feel it–maybe she’s just savoring that feeling to herself and not sharing it with, you know, the entire world.

imagesOn the ‘nay’ side is all that I mentioned above along with the fact that even the format they’re using involves two individual columns relating their experiences.  Scott F. had one if his characters say there are only three subjects in a relationship: you, me, and us.  The us word is sadly lacking when Tim and Jessie describe events they experience together.  If you can’t conceptualize an “us” in a relationship, can you really make the magic happen long term?

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