A couple years ago I became fascinated with the story of two friends who challenged themselves to date for 40 days. Cynics accused them of angling for a book deal or a way to showcase their elaborate word art and Target-esque video aesthetic. I looked at my then shitty relationship and thought, maybe I’d been overlooking love salvation in one of my own friends for the past 10 years. Timothy, the leading man in this experiment resembled a lot of the men I had dated, broken by a less-than-ideal relationship with his father, aloof, creative. And I found Jessica, the leading lady, to be entirely relatable embracing hopeless romanticism despite a string of failed relationships.
I watched excitedly (though skeptically) thinking if they could make it work, maybe I could find happiness, too. In the end, they did not. At least not with each other. I became curious about where they ended up post-experiment. My life had changed drastically in the two short years since they wrapped. I exited the shitty relationship and entered the best relationship I’ve had to date with someone who viewed me as his creative challenger and equal. Something I was hoping the stranger, Jessica would find with Tim. I wondered, if my life had changed so much, where had theirs ended up.
So, I did what any normal healthy person would do, I social stalked them. Jessica has since met and fallen in love with another fellow creative with a man bun. They wedded in December of last year and now live creatively ever after. It appears she maintains a friendship with her 40-days partner (he even attended her wedding—whee), Who as far as I can tell remains unattached and likely coasting on the groupie waves that roll in post-release of the 40 Days book and now the Oreo fame. This experiment and subsequent fallout taught me a number of things about love. Or, rather, reiterated a few things I had already determined after approximately 15 years of unsuccess in the dating realm.
1. You can’t change a person
Even two+ years after the fact, Jessica and Timothy very much seem to be the people who entered the misguided 40 Days experiment. She, still the hopeless romantic found her happy ending. He, still the soulless lothario found a way to capitalize on his shenanigans. Regardless of who you think got the better end of the deal, there were no surprise endings wherein he realized what he was missing all along. Turn. Turn. Turn.
1. You can’t ask someone else to fix you
One of the cornerstone theories set forth by this experiment was the idea that Jessica and Tim could potentially fix each other with their opposing relationship issues. This isn’t an uncommon hope for couples. Especially for the lady half because we are caretakers, hooray! But the fact is this never works. Instead, both halves become codependent and the whole thing explodes in magnificent flames.
3. People can experience the same relationship very differently
One of the most fascinating things about this whole experiment was the glimpse it gave us into both sides of the relationship. Granted, it’s likely both parties were holding back on some level knowing 1. the other would read it 2. a world of strangers would read it but it’s still more perspective than you get in a standard relationship, because people tend to lie to each other about what they’re feeling. It was interesting as an outsider to see each crack as it formed.
4. Even people you think you respect can do dumb ass things
I developed a bit of a girl crush on Jessica over the course of the 40 days and in my follow up research. She has her shit together in a big way even beyond the blog. I mean, I’ve been yammering on and on about my relationship nonsense for years and I have yet to get a book or movie deal out of it. Plus, she’s an incredibly partner at a NYC agency. That in and of itself is jealousy inducing. Still, when you see someone’s life from the outside and you build them up on a pedestal with very little context, they can make some weird choices you can’t get on board with. Namely, this: