MEGAN GARBEROCT 21 2014, 7:45 AM ET
So many loves start with a “hey.” A tentative “hey.” A hopeful “hey.” And more often than ever that “hey” is not spoken, but sent through a text message.
That first “hey,” if all goes well, is returned; from there, the “hey” becomes a plan to get together. Which becomes another plan to get together. And then more plans, and then more plans, until making plans becomes redundant.
In October of 2009, Alice Zhao’s boyfriend gave her a gift to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their first date: a Word document containing all of the text messages they’d exchanged during the previous year. He called his present, awesomely, #thegiftofdata. This October, to commemorate their sixth year together, Zhao took that Word doc and expanded it. She took the texts from their first year together and then compared them to another set of data she’d gathered: texts from their sixth year—a year that saw the two transitioning from engaged to newlywed.
What Zhao found was, if not scientifically rigorous, then romantically revealing