Date Lab: A dater makes her own match ... or her own mismatch?


(Courtesy of the daters)
December 11, 2012

Do daters really know what they want? Last week, we introduced Claire, who got the chance to choose her date from three mystery bachelors. Using just their questionnaires, without names or photos, she selected Bachelor No. 2. Read more about the matchmaking at washingtonpost.com/datelab, and read on to see what happened when Claire met her self-made match.

About the daters ...

Brag a little ...

Ryan: Most women find me to be very funny and are at ease around me. I’m a good conversationalist and can draw people out of their shells. From the bio my friend wrote about me on his wedding Web site: “My interactions with this quirky Texan have always had the flavor of a nonstop sitcom.”


(Courtesy of the daters)

Claire: I cook. I work out. I’m smart, but also thoughtful. I like to talk, but more than that, I really value listening to people. That could be part of why I have dated so many different guys/types: I want to know what they love, what they dream, what motivates them, their quirks and secrets. I’m interested. Period. I make a big deal of little things, like an intentionally cleaned car or a good bottle of wine. Noticing when people are kind and considerate is one of the elementary, great things you can achieve in life.On top of that, I dress well and value my manners/presentation.

Your type ...

Ryan: I can drive a conversation, but
I don’t always like to — it’s more fun when it’s a back-and-forth. I really go
for women who are inquisitive and willing to challenge me.

Claire: I like spontaneous guys. My favorites have been the adventuresome ones. I’m a pretty analytical, grounded, cerebral girl, so I value having someone in my life who makes me go out of my little brain-shell. I took up motorcycling one summer and surfing another ...
all because of who I chose to date.That’s a big deal to me. I want someone who is determined and energetic — a sort of devil-may-care. He also has to be quirky. A streak of weirdness is an [incredible] asset when it comes to daily conversations or boring bars.

Chances you’d befrienda stranger ...

Ryan: I always try to chat up strangers at the bar if the bar is divey enough. That’s sort of the Texan in me.There are always interesting people alone at the bar who have some sort of great wisdom (or at least some off-color jokes) if you chat them up.

Claire: Incredibly high. I love meeting people on the Metro.

Interests to share ...

Ryan: An interest in art is pretty big, as is an interest in history. She should also be willing to visit museums. I’m also into sports, so she should at least be willing to humor me and go to a Nationals game.

Claire: Food is a good connection point. Major points if they are left-leaning politically, but it’s more important that they are engaged with current events and ideologies. Someone who is curious about the world. Someone who doesn’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time, enjoys hiking and great wines, and values excellent coffee.

About the date ...

7:30 p.m., Graffiato, Chinatown

Claire:I have never done online dating in my life. I’m still romantic enough to believe that you can have a really powerful connection with somebody naturally, just in terms of going to the same coffee shop regularly, or meeting in yoga class or whatever it is. I’m friendly and confident enough to create those types of situations for myself. I got on the Metro and I thought, Oh my gosh, I wonder where he lives. I bet he has to Metro there, too. I started looking around, like, Maybe that’s the guy. ... I started creating narratives in my brain.

Ryan: I got to the area around 7, so I had some time to kill. I went to a different bar, got a drink, and then showed up at the restaurant basically at 7:30 on the dot. When I got there, I told the hostess what I was doing, and she pointed me toward Claire at the bar.

Claire: [Based on his profile] I think I [imagined] him as a Texan: broad shoulders, Wranglers, square jaw. And when I met him, he’s pretty D.C. He was pretty stylish, actually. Well groomed. He wasn’t my rugged Texan guy, that conception I brought into the date.It wasn’t a bad thing. It was just, I think, different than what I saw when I read the profiles.

Ryan: I thought she was attractive. She was very chatty. Quickly, I sort of knew that this would be someone I could have a pleasant time with, who would be a fun person to talk to.

Claire: He had a really warm, nice smile. He seemed really comfortable and friendly.

Ryan: They led us upstairs to our seats. I ordered a cocktail; she got a glass of wine. She was telling me about why she liked [my profile] over the other guys’, so that was kind of a nice boost for the ego.

Claire: He kind of laughed and looked abashed. ... I think he took it very well. One of the first things we talked about that evening was motorcycles. I owned a motorcycle but just very recently sold it.

Ryan:She mentioned early on that she surfs and has a motorcycle, which seems kinda bada-- to me. We were kind of adventurous with what we were ordering, and she seemed good with that, which is a plus in my book.

Claire: I think he was trying to see how far I would go in terms of food. He kept looking at stuff on the menu like squid-ink fettuccine. I like that — someone who is adventurous with food.

Ryan: She struck me as someone who is very intelligent and mature. I think we have a similar sense of humor. I’ve been on dates where, you know, we’re both cracking up the whole time, it’s a laugh-fest; I don’t think that’s what this was, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, either.

Claire: I’ve been in D.C. for about a year. He loves this city a lot, so it was interesting for me to meet someone who is devoted to this place. I feel like there are a lot of people who don’t have roots here and are kind of in an intermediary place before they move on, and I don’t think Ryan wants to move on. He loves D.C. that much.

Ryan: I’m not a particularly literary person, but obviously I’m a writer. She said she works at her university’s writing center, and she does creative writing on her own. We talked about writing and a shared appreciation for the written word. It was nice to connect with someone over that.

Claire: We were the last people in the restaurant. We left at 11. He tipped ... the waiter. And I realized that’s not really fair, so I offered to buy him a drink. We went down to Iron Horse [Tap Room].

Ryan: We were sitting in the back, kind of close to each other. It was a little bit flirty. I don’t think it was tremendously flirty.

Claire:There was a little bit of teasing, and I guess that’s sort of flirting, [but] not flirting with the same sort of intent, or a romantic connection that I’ve had in the past.

Ryan: She lives one Metro stop beyond me, so we rode the Metro home together.

Claire: I gave him my phone number. He texted me, and I’ll text him [later].

Ryan: I would give [the date] a 4 [out of 5]. She was just someone who I enjoyed speaking with — very articulate and well spoken, which was refreshing. She was confident. It wasn’t hard to get her to come out of her shell or be chatty, which I like.

Claire: I guess maybe somewhere around a 4. We might hang out again, I don’t know. I think it was a really solid, fun date. I’m really glad that I went.

Ryan: I would enjoy getting together with her again. I plan on calling her. I kinda hinted that I would like to get together with her, so we’ll see how it goes.

***

We had to ask: In hindsight,
does Claire think she made the right choice for her date?

Claire: That freaks me out! ... Once the idea of choice is introduced, the idea of regret is introduced. I don’t think that I would have chosen differently. I know why I chose Ryan, and it’s consistent with what I know about myself. And I think he fits with what I would have wanted in a blind date, and that’s someone who is able to have a great conversation, who is not overly full of himself but still is confident, and someone who is interesting and interested. Ryan was a solid date, just nothing magical, I guess.

I didn’t think that I had a “type” when I agreed to the date, because I’ve dated across the map in terms of range of interests. But I think what they had in common is they were really quirky. ... in the way that they were really passionate about one thing. A little bit of loners; I think I kind of like that. Ryan’s not necessarily quirky enough for me. And maybe that’s part of my Oregon standpoint.I want someone who will go into the wilderness and write a poem and not talk to anybody and come back with a wolf for a pet. I think that’s what I sort of tend to — the mountaineering and weird types. I really like that. And I think that’s how I am, too. I live my life kind of off the beaten track. ...I’m not saying Ryan is typical or boring, I’m saying that he’s much cooler than I am. I think in a lot of ways he’s more marketable as far as dating goes. He seems more integrated and more a part of the larger social strata of dating, and I’m just not.

UPDATE: Ryan left a voice mail asking Claire on a second date, but she’s taking a pass. “I just didn’t sense a connection that would validate setting aside time to pursue something,” she says. “He’s a very lovely guy, but not for me.”

Nominate a friend for Date Lab! Reach us at datelab@washpost.com or on Twitter @datelab or Facebook and tell us why he or she is a great catch.

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