Melanie and Tony. Day 30.

“We out.”

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Last impressions for both for us.


1. HAPPY DAY THIRTY, you beautiful baes! In ten words (or less, we ain’t stingy), sum up what you’ve learned so far.

Growth and learning are about processes, not day 30 outcomes.

2. Scale from 1-10 how would you rate your chemistry?

Ok I hate that I always say 7, so a 6.8? I wish I had set up my own definition of chemistry from the beginning so these answers would have been easier for me. I like being around him and feel comfortable with him. Do I feel twitterpaited or like I can't keep my hands off him? Nope. But I don't think that's a real part of most relationships, at least not long term. Though I'm not the expert on long term

3. Scale from 1-10 how would you rate your compatibility?

8. We knew from the beginning we would get along great and have good conversations. I do wonder if sometimes we may be too similar, though. There were a couple times around larger groups of people where he would get more silly and funny, and I realized it annoyed me, not because of his behavior (I'm silly and definitely weirder than he is), but I realized I wanted that to be my thing. I wonder if compatibility has more to do with complimenting traits in your partner instead of having things similar. But I'll tell ya what, similarities sure make it easier to empathize and understand each other.

4. What’s next for you and your bae?

Ohhhh, the exciting question most of you have skipped ahead to read (You guys are like those people who read the last page of a book before you've finished reading it!). For you who have skipped ahead, I feel I need to first remind you that this is a dating experiment, not a matchmaking service. Success in this realm is not determined by a ring or a rose. For me (and you can read more about this in my log on day 25), success in this experiment came because I made myself uncomfortable by dating in a pretty weird way and I learned so much about myself. Success is not if Tony and I are dating at the end of this. Contractually, we agreed to 30 days and that's what's expected. Growth is about the process, not the outcome! With that being said, we don't know what will happen moving forward. We know we get along well and have deep respect and love for each other. But we have never known each other or gone on a date where it wasn't what we are supposed to do. It's not really possible for us to know how we feel about each other when it isn't forced. Will we go on another date? Yep. Will we date long term? We have decided to not decide that. And unfortunately for you, dear readers, that's where you being privy to this ends. It's sad for me to break up with you all, but for this relationship to have any shot at being normal, it has to happen. It's not you, it's me (largely because I don't even know you).

5. It’s Sunday. Time to drop the last truth bomb. How will this change the way you date?

I haven't figured out yet all the things I will take away from this. It's tricky because so many cool parts of this relationship are hard to replicate outside of dating. I think seeing him so frequently really helped me get to know him quickly and deeply, but that isn't something I can see myself doing in real dating (cause it's HARD to not have time for other stuff). But I did learn that I feel less eager to go to parties just to meet tons of new people and not see them again or talk to them much. I think this helped me realize that I do want to try (in a more balanced way) to actually be in a dating relationship. I love my single life, but I feel more ready to set aside time in my life for a person. I also learned so much in relationship coaching about sharing so much of myself, especially my uncomfortable emotions. And again, I don't think it would be realistic to go to couple's therapy in the first month of most dating relationships, I do think I want to start making healthy patterns of communication and honesty and vulnerability (are you guys sick of me using that word yet? Too bad) from the beginning. It was so nice to not have unhealthy communication patterns developing the whole time and I think I can attribute a large amount of my growth to the honesty we could share with each other.

6. What did you learn about the relationship between commitment and chemistry?

Oh boy. At the beginning I was so thrilled to have the commitment there right away. It took away any potential for games (I can't text him until he texts me first; I have to look super pretty every time we hang out or he'll leave; I have to keep my more intense opinions to myself so I don't scare him off--None of those annoying parts were there!) because there was security. That lent so beautifully to a comfort and openness that let real topics and deep concepts just flow. And at first, that excitement was also connected to our chemistry. But as time went along, I realized I felt sad that I'd never had a real period of time when I felt giddy or excited to hear from Tony. It was never "oh, yay I have this date I've been hoping for weeks would happen" because the comfort and security kind of took that away. It's more true of long term relationships, but I think part of the fun of beginning of relationships is that building chemistry. I noticed that later in the month, it became harder for me to force this because I couldn't look back on the "remember when you felt so lucky and excited that Tony chose you?" Because even though he is so great and so committed, he never really did. I don't think chemistry can be the only piece of a relationship, but I think it might be more required in the beginning than I previously thought. It's like the kindling at the beginning of a bonfire--you burn through it quickly and if it's the only thing there, you have no warmth for the rest of the bonfire, but it's sort of necessary for the start. Honestly that's a bummer for me to write because I was hoping chemistry was just something I could make if I worked hard enough. And I'm in no way saying Tony and I have no chemistry, but I don't think the chemistry that we had was built more as we were more committed. I think that's basically what was there at the beginning. And that was enough, we built a relationship off more sustainable things. But I'm bummed because, in other relationships when the chemistry just isn't there, I realized I don't think I can force it or make more of it.

7. What was the greatest struggle for you?

Even though I try in real life to be genuine and vulnerable and brave, I realized how frequently I still put up a false face. My perfectionism was impossible to hide from, which was really intimidating to confront. I've become so good at reading a room, adjusting, and showing only what will be validated that I often can't tell when I'm putting on a mask. And the really scary thing is that most of the people around me can't see it either. In grad school friends told me I seemed so composed and grounded, but I was bubbling with anxiety and would have panic attacks at home, without knowing how to ask for help (because I would keep it to myself). My roomate has told me she's never seen me angry and that I stay so grounded, but it's more true that I only show anger in "appropriate" ways where I won't lose social influence. And worst of all, in relationships I will say the right things, but I usually don't think it's worth it in the beginning to share what is really going on or what really makes me unhappy or disconnected. Then it festers and starts to sabotage my relationship because I've been ignoring it too long. My need to be a "perfect" girlfriend (which I guess in my head is a chill girl who doesn't ever get annoyed or bugged by things) blocks me from being real with my partner. I don't let most people close enough to even see that there are walls there, but then I'm never fully seen and I don't get to enjoy many other people truly understanding me.

8. Biggest takeaway from relationship coaching?

IT ALWAYS FEELS BETTER AFTER YOU TALK ABOUT IT. It might not be happy, there will likely be vulnerability hangovers, but EVERY SINGLE TIME I said something in coaching that was bothering me, the fact that I didn't keep it bottled up anymore kept it from being as big of a deal.Usually it was still something that mattered, but it's like it released some of the pressure around it so it could just be a normal conversation (instead of this thing that I couldn't stop thinking about that felt like it was leaking out of me). It also gave me a chance to connect to similar things Tony was sometimes feeling, or check in on my perspectives that were often different from his (the story I was telling myself was not always what he was going through, but understanding that gave me a more accurate perspective). Finally, it helped me feel like I was being honest with him, and that honesty allowed more positive emotions to flow while reducing anxiety.. I don't know if this is possible to regulate as much in real life dating, but I think it could be cool to have weekly check-ins where you just put everything on the table. Sometimes it will be hard to work through after, but there can be trust and nothing needs to secret or silenced or judged (which are 3 things required for shame, btw).

9. Other thoughts?

I'm sure I'll look back in 4 months and in a year and see more and more things I wish I had said when I had this convenient platform. But right now, I just want to do one final "find you a bae" because Tony and I talked on the first day how important gratitude is for relationships, and that's how I want to end this. Readers, strangers, friends and family: Find you a bae who makes you feel like a priority. Even though boundaries and alone times and individual friends and interests are so important, it is such a beautiful thing to feel like you matter and are worth another person's precious time. Find you a bae who will listen to what matters to you, and when they don't understand all the parts, they will take even more time to be curious. Find a bae who is confident in and loves themselves--no one person can make up the difference if the well of self-love is dry. But when they have confidence and know they have worth, it's amazing how they are able to show up for people. I feel so so lucky that I have Tony in my life and that he agreed and stuck to his commitment to date me for 30 days. I'm grateful he was my lab partner who validated my efforts but was honest when I wasn't carrying my share or when I pulled away in ways that kept the progress from flowing. I'm glad we helped each other learn how to reduce emotional caretaking and to trust our partner to be emotionally capable; when we needed to say something, we grew to trust our partner would bring it up. Being uncomfortable is always the first step to change.Even though I don't know if I'll be THIS uncomfortable in dating again (who am I kidding, of course I will), I will keep trying to find ways to get past my comfort zone so I can make sure all my dating relationships (and other friendships) are meaningful, even when they aren't perfect.

10. Gif to explain your overall feelings about your TDB experience?

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1. HAPPY DAY THIRTY, you beautiful baes! In ten words (or less, we ain’t stingy), sum up what you’ve learned so far.

Vulnerability is difficult. Vulnerability requires courage. Vulnerability is a strength.

2. Scale from 1-10 how would you rate your chemistry?

I feel like my chemistry is at an 8. I have grown very fond of Mel over these 30 days.

3. Scale from 1-10 how would you rate your compatibility?

I feel like our compatibility is at a 9. I think we have a lot of the same morals and values, we have a lot in common, we get along very nicely, and we can talk about anything.

4. What’s next for you and your bae?

I honestly have no idea. There is still a lot that I do not know about her, about how she thinks, about how she feels. There are still so many unanswered questions. I don’t think a firm resolution can be obtained in just the 30 days allotted. I do think, however, that I know enough about her to continue asking her out. I need to get to know her better and it is worth it to me to continue to pursue her. I know full well that she still has doubts and uncertainty about us, but I am willing to take the risk to see if we can work through these things. It is worth it to me to invest more time and emotional energy despite a clear probability that I will end up getting hurt more than if I were to stop now. So, I will continue moving forward and see what happens.

5. It’s Sunday. Time to drop the last truth bomb. How will this change the way you date?

There are five things I that I have learned that will change the way I date:

  1. Seek to become truly vulnerable with others

  2. Treat vulnerability as exercise for my emotions

  3. Focus on setting healthy boundaries

  4. Communicate about my mental and emotional processing

  5. Maintain harmony, but allow disagreements

6. What did you learn about the relationship between commitment and chemistry?

I have learned that there is a direct, positive correlation between commitment and chemistry. When I increased my commitment to Mel, my closeness to her and my chemistry with her also increased. Conversely, when she expressed her doubts and uncertainty, my commitment to her started to abate. When my commitment diminished, chemistry definitely declined as well. It seems, then, that commitment is a choice. When both people in a relationship choose to commit, chemistry can be developed. If only one of the two individuals are committed, it is very difficult to foster chemistry. It is becoming more apparent to me that if chemistry can be developed through increased commitment, then commitment has to be one of the most important factors in a relationship. This is a very empowering idea to me. It is based on choice. We get to choose for ourselves. I am a massive believer in personal responsibility and individual freedom. I truly believe that most problems in our life come back to a foundation of these two ideals. We do not get to choose whether or not we have chemistry with another person. We absolutely can choose to be committed to another person. They can choose to be committed to us. As each person chooses the other, chemistry can begin to have a foundation in that relationship. As chemistry continues to develop, the couple can view this as evidence that there is something good between them. This will encourage them to maintain their commitment to each other, and thus foster additional chemistry. It seems to me to be a very beautiful cycle.

7.  What was the greatest struggle for you?

In most areas of my life, I am fairly confident and capable. I have spent years developing my core identify and beliefs, and I feel very confident in who I am. The only area where I feel I am deeply lacking is the area of romantic relationships. I feel like I don’t really know what I am doing. This is part of the reason why I did TDB. I wanted to learn how to develop a healthy relationship. I wanted to push myself and grow in an area that I know is a weakness. Because I feel like I am so inept and because I was going to be documenting all my mistakes and shortcomings, my fear with TDB is that this would become painfully apparent when the logs get made public. I just hope that there are others out there who are as lost as I am when it comes to developing a romantic relationship that will actually endure.

The hardest thing for me was sustaining the desire to continue being open and vulnerable with Mel when I knew that she had doubts and uncertainty. I know that most things in life that are of greatest worth require the most effort, courage, and sacrifice. But that doesn’t mean that it was easy to continue putting myself out there. It wasn’t easy leaving myself open to the full scrutiny of one of the most perceptive people I have ever met. It wasn’t easy knowing that she was analyzing everything I said and did and drawing conclusions about whether or not I was worth the effort.

It was very hard knowing that I liked her more than she liked me. It made me anxious thinking that in any moment, Mel could decide that she liked me, or decide that she didn’t like me, and there wasn’t much I could do to influence the decision either way. I feel like she was able to get a clear picture of who I am and what drives me. She got to see me at my most vulnerable moments and at my most comfortable, confident moments. I feel like she has enough information about me to decide whether or not she wants to continue putting forth the effort to date me. I feel like if she decides that I am not someone she wants to continue dating, it will definitely be a blow to my confidence. I will recover, of course—I am resilient—but it will definitely be a difficult rejection to face. I tend to take rejection personally, even though I know that sometimes things just don’t work out. It would be easier if I hadn’t tried so hard during TDB. Rejection doesn’t matter when I haven’t tried, because I can always default to the conclusion, “I wasn’t really trying, so that’s why I failed.” But I did try. I tried hard. I worked every day to make something work. And so, if I do end up getting rejected, it will be much more personal.

It was also incredibly difficult knowing that I had absolutely zero guarantee that she would ever reciprocate the feelings I had for her. So even though I built up the courage to continue giving it my all, I knew that nothing is certain in this relationship. Ultimately, I learned that this is the risk of choosing to be vulnerable with another individual, this is the risk of finding true connection, this is the risk of daring greatly.

8. Biggest takeaway from relationship coaching?

There are four main things that I will take away from relationship coaching:

  1. Vulnerability requires courage and there are different ways to feel vulnerable

  2. Seek to understand each other and don’t talk past each other

  3. Assume the best intentions and motivations and give each other the benefit of the doubt

  4. Be on the same team and don’t keep score

9. Other thoughts?

I have exactly zero more thoughts in my head.

10. Gif to explain your overall feelings about your TDB experience?

for the video (which the TDB recommends you watch 10 times) click  here

for the video (which the TDB recommends you watch 10 times) click here