SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Some scoffed at the experiment. Others praised it. Some wondered whether it would actually work. But for one couple, “Thirty Day Bae*” changed how they view dating.
The experiment was the brainchild of several Latter-day Saint singles, who set out to change the dating landscape by helping singles cut through the anxiety and stress of swiping endlessly through dating apps and having trouble making a long-term relationship stick.
Hundreds of applicants sent in their photo and filled out a personality profile. A matchmaker set up three couples for the first experiment. One of those couples is Jake and Emily.
Jake recalls their first meeting.
“I was like ‘Hey, is this Emily? This is your boyfriend, Jake,'” he said, which made Emily laugh. (Jake made Emily laugh a lot during the interview).
The first meeting was as fun as it was awkward. After all, the two were expected to get to know each other without knowing the other’s last name, without being able to Facebook stalk them – the only thing they had in common was that they had signed up for this dating experiment to find a long-term relationship (which would include couple’s counseling).
Two days after their first meeting, they met with Jordan, a therapist.
“It was weird,” said Emily. “But Jordan was so easy to talk to. I left feeling much more bonded to Jake and committed,” she said. Historically, both Emily and Jake had had trouble finding long-term relationships. Many millennials blame this on what they call the “paradox of choice:” there are too many options, so how do you choose one person?
Some blame Tinder, Bumble – and Mormon singles blame the more Latter-day Saint-centric Mutual: apps geared toward meeting a large quantity of people, but not necessarily making lasting connections. Users swipe left if they find someone unattractive, or right if they find someone attractive. On Mutual, users swipe up for attractive, and down if they’re not feeling it.
With “Thirty Day Bae,” Jake and Emily had committed to deleting the dating apps and only seeing each other for at least 30 days.
“It was extreme,” said Emily, but she said she was determined to get out of this non-committal rut.
The couple was required to blog about their experience – publicly – on the “Thirty Day Bae” website.
The blogs offer fascinating insight from all three couples chosen about the varying stages of a new relationship – including the thought processes each participant went through as they navigated the new connection.
“It feels like it’s moving more towards a friend zone type situation,” wrote one participant.
That “bae-ship” didn’t last.
But on Day 9 of the experiment, Jake reported on the blog that “this is actually starting to feel like a real relationship…”
For Emily, Day 7 was when she started to really feel comfortable about commitment to Jake, according to her blog.
But the couple didn’t stay in that happy place the whole experiment. They each experienced doubts.
“I’m uncertain about what the long-term looks like,” Emily wrote on Day 12.
“I go through phases of feeling really good about this and phases of feeling uncertain,” wrote Jake on Day 14.
When the couple spoke with ABC4 Friday, they were unwilling to disclose whether their relationship had blossomed into something long-term. They’re under instructions from the organizers to wait until the last 15 logs are made public.
Still, the couple was seen with their arm around each other as they left the building.
Even if their “bae-ship” doesn’t work out, Emily and Jake said the experiment was a success.
“I think some things that I learned were that when you commit it just kind of simplifies your life,” Emily said. “Just to be focused on one person, getting to know them…it reduced a lot of anxiety for me.”
Currently, the experiment is only intended for Latter-day Saint singles in Salt Lake City. Organizers said they hope to expand to other areas and other cities. The service was free.
*Bae is a slang term among the younger generation that means “Before All Else,” or the person that they have chosen to prioritize above all others.