A couple of weeks ago, I started reading 40 Days of Dating as a distraction from bad vibes. It took up the length of the whole day, only interrupted by lunch and flaky Internet connection.
What do you do when you’re tired of the prospect of dating? Two good friends with opposite relationship problems found themselves single at the same time. As an experiment, they dated for 40 days. (40-DoD website’s “About” page)
The two people in the project, Jessica and Timothy, wrote an entry every day to help them process the things they did together. They have a lot of rambles where they tried to rationalize their differences and their chemistry. They went into personality theories, myths that explain why people look for relationships, or the scientific sides of love.
I found the project fascinating because it was really about getting to know yourself better in the context of somebody else, incidentally someone the opposite of you. Maybe this struck me because this is something I do. I always try to figure myself out from how I mix (or don’t mix) with certain people, especially those I form relationships with. And because I bring my issues out everywhere I go, people end up trying to figure themselves out with me. My relationships involve a lot of cognition. I only started to realize that not every relationship actually does that.
While reading the project, I related with a mixed-and-matched version of both people. Jessica had a lot of issues in her life; was reserved, quiet, and moody; and liked to over-think everything. My favorite thing from her entries is: “I stress because I give a fuck.”
“Whether it’s in my work or my relationships, I’m very passionate. When I care about someone, I tend to care and empathize with them very deeply.” — Jessica Walsh, Day 11
However, I also related with Timothy’s fear of commitment. On Day 17, Jessica looked up the sure signs that someone is a commitment phobe, and this illustration ensued. I even linked it to my boyfriend to see what he thought. We ticked off the signs and, sure enough, I’m a commitment phobe. In a way.
I don’t label myself as one because I do “commit” to relationships somehow. They just never last very long (✔), and way before they begin I warn the person chasing me that I am probably going to break his heart. (Unfortunately, every one of us in the world wants to be the exception to somebody.)
The main issue with me, I think, is #7: I lose interest when things get serious (✔). People don’t understand this because I am probably the most serious downer and overthinker you will ever meet. That’s pretty much what this whole post is saying. I will, however, admit that I feel differently — maybe even bored — whenever I’m no longer being chased. I know that’s my own flaw, and it’s not something I’m really okay with.
It makes me wonder, though, how I’d do in a project like this. In 40-DoD, Timothy finds himself falling in love with Jessica. They don’t end up together, but he learns that he does want a real relationship somehow. He does want to let someone in long enough to stay.
I would probably be Tim in the story, falling for someone I don’t deserve and being freaked the hell out because of it. I think what made Jessica good for him was their chemistry in the project. She knew him as well as he knew himself, sometimes better. She drew him out and forced him to at least consider the things that were scaring him so much.
I’d need someone who can create that push-and-pull rhythm with me, who plays with my demons just enough to tame them in the long run. I also need reminding that it doesn’t always fall on someone else to do something about me. I need to do something about me. Especially now that I found someone I’d like to keep a little longer.