Former Bae Emily: How to stay sane during Thirty Day Bae
*This was a letter Emily wrote to all of our Season 2 baes
It’s Emily. From Season 1 of Thirty Day Bae. I’m the pale one who was matched up with the beardy one.
I’m writing because I ran into your relationship coach Jordan at the gym last night. He told me you guys are getting matched today and I am so pumped for you! Seriously.
30DB was harder than I thought it would be, but I think everyday about how grateful I am that I did it. I’ve talked with many people, including Jake, about how this came at the perfect time in my life. So many things I learned have had affected my dating life, my non-romantic relationships, and just how I see myself as a person.
That being said, I admit I that I had some good freakouts during 30DB. Like GOLD MEDAL FREAKOUTS.
You’re probably more chill than I am. But in the event you’re feeling uneasy, I thought I’d share some thoughts with you. If any of this conflicts with Jordan’s advice or what your gut is telling you, throw it out. My only goal is that you might feel less alone in a new situation.
Ok, I now present:
Emily's Top 10 Tips for Trying to stay Sane™
1. Stay open to letting this surprise you.
On day three, I was ready to bail. Jake and I were getting along just fine, but this whole thing was too weird. Opening up my life to the internet seemed too uncomfortable. I was starting to get dating FOMO. Meltdown activated!
But then I had a thought hit me out of nowhere: “Just because something is different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.” That’s a life lesson that I probably should have learned a few decades ago, but it’s kind of become a new mantra in my life. Try to avoid seeing new things as black/white, good/bad.
I guarantee your bae* is different from who you’ve dated in the past. Does that make them wrong for you? Maybe. Maybe not.
This whole experiment is VERY different from what most people will ever experience in dating. Is that wrong? Maybe. Maybe not.
Recognize there is an adjustment period and everything is just different right now. When I’m going through some sort of change, I can get pretty uncomfortable and off-balance. But that usually means growth is happening. If something isn’t uncomfortable, maybe I didn’t make a big enough change. There’s going to come a time where you can analyze the heck out of this relationship. But for now… just observe, be present, and enjoy getting to know them. Try to hold off on making a decision on whether or not this can work, and just focus for now on helping one another feel comfortable
When I’m uncertain about something, sometimes my brain goes into overdrive looking for reasons to support my hesitations. That can create some negative thoughts. Something that helps me is to try to be more curious than critical. Be curious about who they are. Be curious about why you were setup and what you can learn from them: what similarities and differences compliment your dynamic?
It’s natural to have dreams or expectations, but stay open to letting this person surprise you. In dating or friendship, I think we all love the person who comes up with an actual interest in who we are and in what we’re all about. We’ve all been on those dates where the other person has made up their mind about us in five minutes based upon an ideal they’ve built up in their head. I know I’ve been that person on dates.
When you take the time to observe all the special things that make your Bae unique, and when you start to trust that you’re in this together as a team, a lot of fears will probably begin to vanish. Be open to growth and let your heart open up.
*I still laugh every time I type the word Bae. I still can’t use it non-ironically. Sorry 30DB.
2. Treat this like an exclusive relationship. Give it every opportunity to grow.
Do yourself and your Bae a favor by going into this with both feet! You may not be committed forever, but you can give them your best for at least a few weeks. Let your actions reflect your commitment.
More than likely you have some unfinished business in your dating life. You know that situation-ship that you’ve been entertaining for the past four years? It might be healthy to tell that guy you need to put things on hold for a bit. Don’t put off a conversation with him until you know whether or not you like your Bae. If things are right with that other person, they’ll be around when the experiment ends. And they’ll be so lucky to get the new and improved version of you.
3. A big benefit of this experiment is learning how to improve communication
When we started out, we didn’t know if we’d like each other. So the fear of rejection wasn’t super high. I think that was one thing that allowed us to be more vulnerable than maybe we’d normally be. We were going to be spending a TON of time together, so we figured we might as well be open and honest from the beginning about what made us happy/annoyed/insecure/uncomfortable. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT. I feel better equipped to be successful in relationships because Jake and I were always practicing how to be better communicators. Even if you don’t hit it off with this person, you have a huge opportunity to learn relationship and communication skills from Jordan.
4. I think something everyone from season one struggled with was whether our relationships could ever feel organic and natural. We all struggled with the idea that we didn’t choose this person.
Here’s my take: Although 30DB helped you find one another, you’re choosing to do this. You’re choosing to learn. You’re choosing to keep showing up for this person. We all know that’s how relationships work. Every day you make a choice to choose that person and give them your best.
The team has parameters around the experiment that could sometimes make it feel like it’s overly structured. The angsty-defiant-teenager in me seems to get channeled when I feel like someone is imposing rules on me. But I was surprised to find that I eventually appreciated the 30DB guidelines. I actually went through a weird adjustment period when we didn’t have those rules anymore in the “real world.”
But no matter how you feel about the rules, I believe it’s 100% possible to have your feelings grow organically while being in a structured situation. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t hit it off… but there’s a good chance that some feelings may sneak up if you’re not constantly trying to assess if you like Bae.
In some ways, I felt more natural in 30DB than I normally would in a brand new dating situation because I trusted Jake wasn't going to bail out on me if we had a weird day together. I think one of the best things you can do for the other person is to let them know you aren't going anywhere and they can be emotionally safe with you. Jake gave that to me immediately without even knowing me. Him being so resolute that he would stick through 30DB with me was a huge gift to help me chill out, and was one of the main reasons why my feelings started to shift out of the friend zone. I knew he cared about me and he wanted me to have a good experience. If you want lessons on being a good human, spend some time with Jake.
5. Committing to the time commitment
We created a LONG list of things we wanted to do together. It was great to always have things to look forward to and it made the time commitment seem like less of an obligation. It didn’t take long before it felt normal to be in one another’s lives.
There will be days here and there where you just need to take a breath and catch up on life. But maybe there are some parts of your regular life that can take a backseat. Maybe your gym sessions will be shorter...or… you can do Richard Simmons videos together in your living room. Maybe you go grocery shopping or run errands together. Embrace this for what it is and integrate them into your life. It’s a once in a lifetime thing, and 30 days will go by fast. Your life will get back to normal eventually and balance and order in the universe will be restored.
6. People LOOOOVE talking about relationships. They are going to be even more curious about this one.
Maybe you can handle lots of input and opinions about your relationship. For me, the more people that are involved in my emotional ups and downs, the more likely I am to freak out.
It may be fun at first to share all the things with all the people. But it’s going to get old providing updates every single day to your family, friends, co-workers, and randos at church. Combine all those conversations with the logs, and you’ll find that you’re processing the relationship for several hours every day.
I’d strongly advise that you only share details with 1 or 2 people you really trust. Everyone else in your life can chill and read your logs in a few weeks. Let’s avoid emotional burnout. Boundaries are good.
7. Don’t get too caught up on the 30 day time frame
Try to not totally make up your mind until maybe the last week. If you’re anything like me, your emotions may shift quite a bit.
It might be helpful to agree that you’ll make a decision in the last 3-5 days. If it happens that you feel totally clear about things by day 28, maybe it’s time to have a conversation. If you get to Day 30 and want to take a break for a few days before deciding what you want to do, I think that’s fine too.
I’m a big believer in trusting yourself and doing whatever makes sense for you and the relationship. The team was extremely supportive in letting things unfold in whatever way we felt was best.
8. The logs don’t need to be a regular source of anxiety
Some days you’ll have tons of epiphanies and funny stories you want to share. Other days will be boring, or you’ll be too tired to write much. Let people into your life so we can all learn from your journey, but this doesn’t have to be an anxiety-inducing thing. The logs are primarily for you and your Bae to learn from.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but it didn’t end up mattering that I had word vomit or a million typos. People will skim through your log, possibly question some of your life choices, and then they’ll get on with their day. As with most things in life, no one cares as much as you think they do. I didn’t receive a Pulitzer from my logs, but no one trolled me either. Overall people were super kind and thoughtful in their feedback. In some weird way, I think the logs helped me to be less of a perfectionist and to be more vulnerable in my everyday life.
It’s ok to have bad days and good days. It’s ok if your perspective doesn’t always align with your bae’s. If you end up dating past the 30 Days, the logs could be a good foundation to help the other person understand how you tick. So there’s no need to paint an overly rosy view of what you’re experiencing. At some point you’re going to feel more vulnerable than what’s comfortable, but people will relate to your logs more than you’ll expect.
9. In the words of Jake, "You don't have to be victim to your feelings."
One of the coolest things I've learned lately is how my thoughts and actions can affect my feelings.
If I’m getting bored by surface level conversations on a first date …guess what?? I can play a direct role in influencing more dynamic conversations. Maybe I need to create a safe space where the guy feels like he can share openly or disagree with me.
If I'm checking out emotionally, maybe I should try investing a little more energy in serving him. Or, I can try to be more of a contributor in the relationship and come up with something fun to do.
When I’m starting to pick things apart, it’s always helpful to turn to gratitude. When I’m mindful about the things I like about my guy, and express those things to him, my mood and actions change significantly.
Even if you don't feel like you have a strong connection with your Bae, this could be a good chance to experiment in how intentional actions can affect feelings. See what happens when you make some tweaks to your approach.
10. Have fun. Don’t take things soooo seriously. Be present.
If I could go back and do one thing over, it would be to just focus on having fun and not take things too seriously. Yes, you’re going to learn and be stretched. But dating can also be so so so fun when you just take a deep breath and not try to figure out everything at once.
Ok, I think that’s it. This got a lot longer than I thought it would, so thanks for hanging in there!
I’m really excited to hear how things go. Maybe you’ll date for a year and end up marrying this person and you’ll have a really crazy story about how you met. If that’s the case, you should probably invite me to your wedding because I’m going to crash it either way.
Maybe you’ll try out rock climbing, exchange homemade Christmas cards, eat way too much Del Taco, meet new friends, and feel more uplifted and hopeful about future things to come (those were all good things that happened for me).
No matter the outcome, I’m stoked for you to have this adventure! This is the weird stuff you’ll tell your grandkids when you tell them all the twists and turns it took to find your snookums.
You have so many people on the 30DB team who are already growing to care so much about you. Seriously, I feel major love from these people. The more I’ve gotten to know them, the more I wish I would’ve reached out when I had some bumps in the road. This isn’t the Bachelor or some kind of college freshman psychology experiment. You’re going to find that the team wants you to have a good experience, and they want to learn alongside with you. The lessons you learn will be unique to you and I can’t wait to read about some of it!
Good luck. Have fun. Express daily gratitude. Be excellent to one another. I’m rooting for you!