Writing left handed

The 40 Days Phenomenon

So I stumbled 40 Days of Dating recently.  I don’t know how I missed it—it’s been all over the news and in magazines and supposedly they’re going to make a movie out of it starring Paul Bettany.

40 days

(Then again, I always miss things.  I didn’t know about Pete Seeger being dead until I got bored watching the State of the Union Address and logged onto Facebook.  And I didn’t even know who Philip Seymour Hoffman was until he died.  Last but not least, when I was in junior high and headed to my first weekend-long 4-H retreat, my mother actually pulled me aside before I left to tell me about “a new group called the Spice Girls” lest I appear as clueless as I really was.)

At any rate, 40 Days of Dating is a blog in which two friends decide to date one another for forty days.  They fill out questionnaires about their relationship, go to couple’s therapy, write each other little handwritten notes, etc.  And at the end of the forty days (spoiler alert) they fall apart and go their separate ways but remain (if one is to believe Cosmopolitan) very good friends.

I felt oddly voyeuristic reading their blog.  (Which is weird, considering what I do.)

It was like reading a slam book, or watching a car crash.  It bugged me—the fatalism, the endless self examination, the inevitable downward spiral of their relationship (and who the hell goes to Disney for a romantic getaway???), the weird videos where they sit there staring at each other with rats crawling all over their feet— but I just couldn’t look away.

Okay, I did skip a few days.

But I read most of them, once I got the hang of their uber-chic layout, and it made me wonder…

What should I do this time around?

Not that I’m ready for this time around to commence… not by a long shot.  It’s been three weeks and I’m still getting teary eyed at all sorts of weird times.  But I need some sort of plan.  I don’t intend to spend the rest of my life wallowing.  Thoughts?

27 Responses to “The 40 Days Phenomenon”

  1. Katie

    It might be my superpowers of internet emotion deduction, but it’s looking like you’re considering turning your dating life into a business again. Think about it long and hard before you do, and remember to consider how it affected your interactions with these dates the last time — and, more importantly, how it affected your relationships when you were in them. Then, if you still decide you want to go for it — if you want to become more-than-just-internet-known for your dating escapades and maybe parlay into a book/movie/television sitcom — REALLY go for it. Make a business plan. A social media plan. Maybe even commission a professional website design. It seems that’s the route you were starting to go before you met TWD, and I can’t help but think that must feel unfinished to you.

    On the other hand, you might decide you want to focus your writing elsewhere and make dating — the find-real-love-and-settle-down kind of dating — your private priority. I’m not positive you can have both (though maybe THAT’S your project?), because remember how you struggled with this blog once things with you and TWD became serious. It would be very hard to make your personal life professional. Somewhere, it seems, one aspect would have to suffer.

    • Kat Richter

      You’ve hit the nail on the head Katie! I want it and I don’t want it at the same time… It would be nice to just date normally for a change. Lots to think about.

      • Kat Richter

        PS: You’re absolutely right, I’d have to be all in this time or not… and considering that I’ve applied to go back to school for my PhD, devoting my every waking moment to my online dating persona might not be the best idea, professionally or personally.

  2. gondilon

    The question that has been on my mind when reading your last few blogs posts is: When you reach a point where you feel “ready” to date again, should you actively go looking for a relationship? There is an idea often perpetuated in millennial dating culture that being single is “bad” or means there is something wrong with that person. I personally feel that it is alright to be in a place where you are single and not looking for a relationship. This may not be a path that you decide to take, but it is an important one to consider.

    • Kat Richter

      Also a very good point. I am definitely of the feeling that you’ve got to be okay with yourself as a single person before you can be okay with yourself as a non-single person. The fact that I’m not either right now is just further proof of the fact that I’m not ready to date anyone right now, whether actively looking for a relationship or not 😦

      • gondilon

        Being alright with yourself as a single person is definitely important. If you wish to hear what that process has been and continues to be like for me let me know and I am happy to talk about it.

  3. Jennie Saia

    I hated this social experiment of theirs. To me, love of any kind – familial, friendly, or romantic – happens because you both choose it and it fits, not because anyone chased it down, or forced it, or analyzed it to death in hopes of what it could be. It makes us feel frustrated and helpless to admit this, but much more than half of finding a long-term partner it is luck… just meeting a person with whom it can possibly work. After that, I think the balance shifts, and there is more effort involved… but the person showing up in your life has to happen of its own accord.

    • Kat Richter

      You’re absolutely right. I just know that in my case all of the “practice” dating helped me to get to the place I needed to be in when TWD came into my life. There’s a difference between practice and forcing something though, for sure.

  4. Jerseyite Lurker

    Two things:

    (1) Remember that when you met TWD, it happened in a manner utterly separate from, and irrelevant to, all of the many efforts you were making at the time to meet a guy.

    (2) I can just about guarantee you, you won’t be finding time to update your blog three times a week when you’re in the coursework stage of a PhD program. The good news is, there will be guys to be met there, and in fact when you’re as busy as you’re going to be, the ideal date will be one who’s equally busy.

    Conclusion: Relax. It’s beyond your control, and that’s a good thing.

    • Kat Richter

      Oh God no– absolutely. Besides I don’t really want my “thing” to be online dating. It’s just fun to write about in the interim. The minute I find myself in another serious relationship I’ll go back to having nothing to write about again.

  5. Meg

    I suggest you spend some time really thinking about what it is that you want, not WHOM you want, but WHAT you want. What do you want to contribute to a relationship? What do you want to take away from a relationship? Write down every last detail about what you want. “The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.” – Ben Stein Even if you’re not ready for a new romantic relationship, this exercise can be awfully cathartic because it will make you look at what worked and didn’t work about previous relationships, not just what you liked or didn’t like.

    • Kat Richter

      Very good suggestions– I have definitely been revising my “list” of what’s important to me and what I thought I wanted (and wanted to give/contribute) based on what I learned during my time with TWD. Surprise surprise what I thought I wanted wasn’t entirely correct.

  6. xclampa

    I’m not sure whether a different plan is in order… It’s more of a ‘what have I learned, what can I change about myself to get a different result the next time around’.
    The way you put it, you had
    a) different life goals than TWD, and you viewed yourself in 10 years in a different place than him
    b) a ‘relationship maintenance problem’ with respect to communicating, giving feedback / facilitation more precisely
    Your system for dating, pre-TWD, was pretty impressive and it made you a very skilled dater, but later comes the dreaded relationship part, where a) and b) happened. No wonder – relationship is a completely new set of skills, questions and other scary items.
    Me? I’ve had to learn to let go, to not be a critic and downer all the time. It still takes a lot of effort to ‘go with the flow’ and be ‘genteel, yet firm while keeping the bigger plan in sight.”. Men are such suckers for smiles, kindness and humor, who knew?
    You’re only responsible for how you respond, and for your actions, so while you’ve got the career and passion going for you, go meditate on what happened, change something more than the system of meeting dates, so you can have a much happier relationship in the future. Even with a cool&hot single dad.

  7. Jen

    Disney is the PERFECT romantic getaway. Someday I hope to go with someone I love.

  8. Chicago-Style Girl

    I also missed the 40 Days of Dating. But I clicked that link, and… I can’t. There are some things my life is just fine without experiencing, so I’m good. But I’ll happily follow your next dating adventure wherever it may take us.

    The possibilities are not necessarily endless, at least not to me.

    The only thing I can think of is speed dating and requiring everyone you love to set you up on one blind date. I wouldn’t expect either of those toe end well, but at least they’ll make good blog posts.

    Here’s what I know of a foolproof way to meet someone. You know, when you get to that point. Go to a party at a friend of a friend’s house. There needs to be lots of people there you don’t know, but we’re talking only 2-3 degrees of separation. It’s a great pool of potential date-ees because they are all stamped with approval by someone you trust or by someone they trust. As long as there are at least 10 people there you don’t know, this plan doesn’t fail.

    But before we get to the foolproof party, which must not be thrown in honor of getting you a date, you have to try the blind date thing first. Please, pretty please do that first.

    But before that, your heart has to heal (and I realize that’s a duh statement for you). It will be less fun living vicariously through your dating if you are still healing.

      • petitepaumee

        It’s a group dating site. They (supposedly) match you with someone you would like based on your facebook profile, and then you bring 2 of your friends and meet your ‘match’ plus 2 of his friends. I have no idea how they match people – i think honestly it’s probably just whoever is available that night – because they put me with some young kid who didn’t like to be outside, made snarky comments about religion the whole night, wasn’t really into healthy living or healthy eating and HAD NEVER TRAVELED INTERNATIONALLY in his life. we had literally nothing in common to the point where it was amusing.


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