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Danica & Matthew: 'The Dating Project's' Assignment Leads to a Ring

, | February 10, 2021 | By

Part of the documentary The Dating Project -- which tells the stories of people from 20s to 40s seeking love -- is the Dating Assignment, a simple way to launch into the daunting process of dating.

For two young people from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, a screening of The Dating Project (click HERE) led to one of the two taking on the Dating Assignment (click HERE) -- with amazing results. Below is that story, in the words of the couple involved:

The Dating Project changed our lives. No, seriously. That’s not a cliché or an exaggeration. The trajectory of our lives has been changed thanks to this film. Our names are Danica & Matthew, and we’re thrilled to share our story with you, in hopes that this film may bear fruit in other people’s lives as much as it has in ours.

Danica O'Neill: A few years ago, I grew increasingly impatient at the dating culture within our circles. We live in a city with a vibrant Catholic young-adult community -- everyone wanted to get married, but very few had the courage to go on a date.

Dating held so much pressure; people were defensive about the topic and resistant to take a risk. At any given event for the community, 90% of the crowd was single. So many eligible people, so little dating! In frustration, I decided to do something about it, by organizing a screening of The Dating Project through the young-adults group at my parish.

We had created quite a buzz about The Dating Project prior to the screening, and thus had a large crowd show up. As I mentioned, this was a topic on everyone’s minds, even if there was no follow-up action. People were curious!

For those unfamiliar with the film, it documents five single people of varying ages from different walks of life and their experiences of dating. It also follows Boston College Professor Kerry Cronin, and her class on relationships, which includes a “dating challenge” that all her students must complete. The challenge outlines a number of simple rules that aim to take the pressure off dating and re-teach our generation “the script” on how to date.

The film itself is excellent. It covers such a wide variety of experiences, and the individuals in the film share so beautifully and openly about their longings and heartbreak. It was clear that the message was hitting close to home for people during the screening, because you could have heard a pin drop.

Afterwards, we held an open mic for people to share their thoughts. People dropped their pretenses and openly shared about what it’s like to date in today’s culture. It was amazing how receptive people were!

Finally, to end the evening, we issued the same dating challenge that Professor Kerry Cronin issues her students – everyone at the screening was encouraged to ask someone on a date (and then go on a date), using the guidelines set by Cronin.

Matthew McKinnon: I had just moved to the city not long before the screening of The Dating Project. I had started attending the young-adult events in hopes of meeting more people, and Danica was one of the first people I met at those events. Not long after that, I attended The Dating Project.

The film was very engaging and made me truly consider what was being presented. It dispelled a lot of fear around the concept of asking someone on a date. I felt freed in a way – dating did not have to be something super stressful. Put simply, it took the pressure off.

And what man doesn’t like a good challenge?

After watching the film, I took it up and thought …who better to ask on a date than the person organizing the whole thing! I asked Danica out at my next opportunity, and we went on a date a few days later (following all the rules, as per the Dating Assignment!).

Having rules to follow, such as limiting ourselves to 90 minutes and spending no more than $10, was incredibly helpful and set the casual tone for the date. It gave us the freedom to spend a bit of time simply getting to know each other without fear or pressure of where it was “supposed” to go from there.

Of course, the date went really well and was followed up with a second and a third date. Having the perspective of The Dating Project in our minds gave us a lot of freedom in that time to be ourselves and move slowly. After the third date, we became official, and I proposed six months later.

We’re getting married June 2021! Pray for us!

Back to our opening line of “The Dating Project changed our lives” – it truly did! In hindsight, I don’t think I would ever have asked Danica out otherwise. The Dating Project removed the barrier to asking someone out and instilled in me a motivation to actually do it. Without the direct challenge, I may never have asked her out.

We’re both abundantly grateful for how The Dating Project played the pivotal role (led by God, of course) in bringing us to our vocation. We’d highly recommend it to every young adult community out there. Let yourself be challenged – you really never know the lives that might be changed!

Meet Danica & Matthew:


Image: Courtesy Danica O'Neill & Matthew McKinnon

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on our websiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow THE DATING PROJECT on its websiteFacebook and Instagram. THE DATING ASSIGNMENT now has its own website -- check it out HERE.