Boy meets girl, girl meets boy. They become “just” friends. Years later they decide to date for 40 days and blog about it in 40 installments. Their blog goes viral, they are featured in the New York Daily News and their videos are watched hundreds of thousands of times. They are signed to a Hollywood talent agency.
This isn’t a Richard Curtis plotline but the story of New Yorkers Timothy Goodman, 32, and Jessica Walsh, 26. The pair, who are both graphic designers, decided to test the theory that friends can become lovers without ruining their friendship. And if you’re a plugged-in twentysomething with an internet connection you’ve probably been asking “will they or won’t they?” since their first blog post 41 days ago.
Chronically single, the two good friends were struggling to find the right mate in Manhattan, and eschewed casual hook-ups in favour of a fully formed relationship. In April Goodman, who described himself as afraid of commitment, often juggling several women at once, and Walsh, a self-described “hopeless romantic” who was always looking to find “the one”, decided to date for 40 days while adhering to a strict set of rules; they would see each other every day, not date anybody else, go on a mini-break and, as well as visiting a relationship counsellor once a week, they would separately complete a questionnaire about their experience each day.
These questionnaires formed the basis of a beautifully constructed website complete with emotional videos, GIFs and date-appropriate pop art and illustrations provided by their friends and colleagues. Their first date was on 20 March but it was only in mid-July that the pair started posting on their blog, 40 Days of Dating, and captured the attention of hopeless romantics worldwide.
It charts how Walsh and Goodman, who are now reportedly recognised on the streets of New York, spent the first half of their experiment plotting an awkward path between friendship and romance, before they kiss on day 18, fall into bed together on day 25 and book a trip to Disney World for days 38 to 40.
Perhaps predictably on day 39 things go wrong with Walsh writing, “He said my strong feeling for him deeply worry him, and, like usual, I was moving too quickly.” Goodman replied, “I barely even held her hand today. And as much as I try to convince myself, it’s obviously not working for me”. The scene was conveniently set for a Hollywood-style final scene at the airport on day 40.
Sure enough the next blog post sees an emotional break-up and what had been seen as a modern internet sensation finishes as an old-fashioned tale of romance gone wrong. In his final post Goodman wrote: “I just feel like such a disappointment to her and myself. It seemed inevitable that all the pressure would make this blow up.”
That will sound familiar to many of their readers, but there is hope Goodman tells The Independent: “We never defined what success might mean ... It was an experiment, a study, a chance to get a glimpse into our dating habits and fears with the help from each other. When else can you do that in life? The project could be considered successful if we came out of it as more aware individuals, regardless of if we fell in love or not. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We are closer than ever now.”