The Dating Project: A Must-See

            Growing up, the concept of romance was exciting: the promise of falling in love and attaining a meaningful, lasting connection with another person. Throughout my childhood, I watched movies that allowed me to believe that I would someday find love; movies like “The Notebook,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” “When Harry Met Sally,” and many others. I desperately hoped that I would be able to have the fairytale ending that all of these films illustrated.  

            While life essentially never ends like a movie, being a jumbled mess of unexpected twists and turns, the hope that I would find a meaningful connection, and eventually “the one,” still lingered within me. However, as I grew up, I was continually confused and disappointed by the world of romance that surrounded me, and this glimmer of hope for a meaningful relationship began to deteriorate. Instead of innocently meeting someone and taking the time to develop a relationship through witty conversation like when Harry met Sally on a road trip and through many dates, I watched girls be approached in sweaty frat basements by intoxicated men asking them if they wanted to “go upstairs” before bothering to ask their names. Instead of receiving the heartwarming and caring love letters that Allie received from Noah in “The Notebook,” college women will receive the text message on their phones around 2 am, “you up?”, asking if they are physically awake and able to come over to engage in meaningless sex.  Instead of Heath Ledger chasing after girls with a guitar begging for their love like in “10 Things I Hate About You” or waking up to John Cusack  holding a boom-box over his head outside my window in “Say Anything,” many girls are  “ghosted,” where after being used for sex, all contact is diminished and they are simply forgotten about and left behind. While these cinematic scenes are unattainable and I couldn’t have possibly expected my life to read like a fairytale, I did expect for women to be met with respect and genuine care, and it deeply saddens me that these things have seemed to disintegrate. 

            We now live in a world where, instead of viewing others as opportunities for love and genuine connection, we treat one another as if we are disposable. Even the simple idea of “dating,” getting to know one another in a way that focuses on an emotional and mental connection, has essentially died; instead, we hide behind substances and technology to engage in sexual favors that are assumed to be meaningless. And this is what “The Dating Project,” a new documentary directed by Jonathan Cipiti, is all about.

            “The Dating Project,” as explained on its website, follows five single people as they search for meaningful relationships in a world where dating has gone out of style. It tells the story of the death of courtship, and the struggle to escape from this world that forces us to lower our expectations and become accustomed to being detached. The film’s slogan, “a film for every single person,” speaks volumes for the phenomenon that it describes and desperately wishes to change. Every individual wants love, but as Fox News’ Suzanne Venker explains, “no one has shown them the way.” We have mastered the act of “making love” without allowing ourselves to develop, feel, or understand love at all.

            Thankfully, the documentary also suggests a possibility for change: the chance that through making big changes and giving dating an active effort, Americans will allow themselves to feel again. This documentary itself is an important step in the process of showing us how lost we really are and inspiring us to find our way again.

            “The Dating Project” debuts for one night only on April 17th. In my opinion, the film will be one that would be a real shame to miss.


A freshman at the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram @devin_ablow, go blue!

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