Is Dating Dead? Jessica Massa, Rebecca Wiegand Talk Modern Romance in The Gaggle


Dating is dead — so say Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand. They say that dating doesn’t lead to love like it reportedly did in the past — instead, Massa and Wiegand say, women nowadays just have men informally orbiting them, and it’s up to us female folk to take the relationships where we want them.

Their ideas stem from their stint as roommates in Brooklyn. The pals — apparently BFFs since age 12 — decided that they should reexamine America’s romantic landscape instead of lamenting their love lives. So they launched WTF Is Up With MY Love Life?! a few years ago, a website aimed at “redefining romance and dating for the modern generation,” Massa told us.

That project, which included countless countrywide interviews, morphed into a movie optioned by New Line Cinemas. That then turned into a book, The Gaggle , which came out yesterday, and stands poised to become the next big ladybook. (Massa authored the book, but both co-created the project.)

So what the hell is a gaggle, anyway?

For starters, it refers to that orbital man group we mentioned earlier and yes, it is named after those hapless groups of geese.

But what else?

“One night, the two of us just came to this realization that dating was dead and that there was some other way that people of our generation were falling in love and how do we, as women, embrace that?” Massa said. “The answer that we found was that through having a gaggle.”

They say that we live in a post-dating world, and that the gaggle — “the group of men in your life who you may not be dating” creates a paradigm shift.

Instead of thinking about your love live in terms of love per se — “who is taking me out to a movie friday, who is calling me a week in advance to make plans?” etc — a gaggle is like a panorama dudes floating in the third dimension, or something.

One man might fill one role in your life. Another might fill a different one. They’re the guys you already know and see regularly, if not everyday, the reasoning goes.

There are apparently 10 types of man-geese in a woman’s gaggle — one could be that clingy ex-boyfriend, another could be “that guy at work who helps you with the coffee machine.” (FYI: if you ever find an office with a coffee machine, commit. They’re TOTAL KEEPERS.)

Anyway, the key to finding love in this kind of ambiguous cloud, they say, is to “remain open to where those connections might go.”

“You are really at the center of your gaggle. You really are at the center of your love life. They’re men who exist in your life, so it’s up to you to define the relationship on your terms and explore it the way you want to explore it. We really think that the gaggle requires the empowerment of women,” Wiegand said.

Empowerment? (Uhhh?)

Explained Wiegand: “I came home one night when we were roommates in Brooklyn, and I sat down on the sofa and released a barrage of: ‘Why don’t boys like me? What’s wrong with me?’ And Jess and I sort of had an initial moment of wallowing in despair and thinking that we had no love lives and thought that something must be wrong with us, since we ‘re not going any dates,” she said. “If you’re doing it a traditional way and thinking: ‘Is he into me? Is he not that into me?’ you’re at the mercy of every guy whereas with the gaggle, we’re trying to take the pressure off.”

So, their lesson is to talk to dudes as much as you want, and to use tech to go on ambiguous non-dates.

“You’re empowered to reach out to all these guys and cultivate these relationships and you should be seeing these guys on your own terms and start living like that,” Wiegand said.

Info gathered while interviewing women, they said, indicated that dating had died elsewhere in the U.S. too. Few couples, they found, had met and undergone courtship in the traditional way. Their data indicated that love hadn’t died — just that old school forms of romancing, such as flowers and chocolates, might have kicked the bucket.

What about dudes? Do they have a gaggle?

Yes, according to the pair.

“Men have the girls they want to date, they girls they wanna be in a relationship with, the girls they’re not into,” and a lot of the times, it’s based on physical attraction, Massa said.

Why name these setups gaggles, we asked?

“If you get all these YouTube videos of geese walking around aimlessly, it really encapsulated the whole idea for us,” Massa said. “There’s not really a system. It’s very ambiguous and it’s always changing and it’s unpredictable you are at the center of it making it work for you so there’s no longer any rules. Instead, they’re kind of wandering around doing what makes sense to them.”

So there you have it, ladies. Dating is allegedly dead. Love allegedly is not. And the way to find the latter is supposedly to go on a bunch of ambiguous non-date dates, which is also somehow billed as empowering. This belief system kinda stems from a YouTube video of birds. Yeah, our brain hurts too. But it’s entirely possible that Massa and Wiegand make a persuasive argument. We won’t know until after we’ve read the thing — and we’re certainly not going to judge a book — or its authors — by its proverbial cover.

We’ll let you know what we find!