Date Lab: A first date that’s not their first date

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Restaurant Nora as Cafe Nora. This version has been corrected.


(Courtesy of the daters)
February 23, 2012

About the daters ...

Brag a little ...

Michael: Smart, athletic, well-educated, musically talented, funny, adventurous, driven, easygoing, ambitious, and I’m told that I’m good-looking. I have a cool job that I love and great friends.

I can get along with just about anyone and make awkward situations fun. This year, I’ve played in symphonies, sung in choirs, performed with a tango orchestra and traveled with a successful funk band, plus climbing a bunch of mountains out in the Cascades.

Baylee: I’m a straight shooter, passionate about my values and an expert at making people feel at ease. For those worthy of my time, I enjoy sharing my biting wit and keen observations. Plus I have a really great butt. Like, really great.

Interests to share ...

Michael: Athletics generally, if not running particularly. Climbing or hiking would be a major plus. Appreciation for music is a must. Moderate liberal political stance a plus (though I try to avoid political discussions, so I’ve dated across the spectrum without issues).


(Courtesy of the daters)

Baylee: Love of the outdoors and exercise, making fun of hipsters, eating healthy, reading for fun, interest in critical thinking, love of baseball, dislike of football.

How you hope s/he’s different ...

Michael: More family-oriented, a better cook, and generally more empathetic and patient.

Baylee: I hope he is a better dancer than I am. I hope he knows how to put up a tent and make a campfire.

About the date ...

7:30 p.m., Restaurant Nora, Dupont Circle

Michael: I had a feeling it might be the Baylee I already know from when she worked on the Hill. I sort of figured it out when I saw how her name was spelled. When I realized she was my date, I didn’t tell her; I tried to preserve some of the surprise.

Baylee: I get to the restaurant right on time, and the hostess says, “So, I hear you know your date.” That’s when I see Michael. Not only do I know him, but this is not our first date. When I first moved here [three years ago], he took me out to show me around. He is really good-looking and we have a lot in common, but we both kind of knew at the end of that date that we were better off as friends.

Michael: I personally don’t like dating someone who also works on the Hill. It can be a little like high school. Everyone knows what’s going on, and that can be too much. And we shared the same circle of friends; it was almost awkward to date then. [Now,] when I saw her — and she looked great — I got up and gave her a hug. And we couldn’t stop laughing. I recall her saying, “Let’s just have fun with this,” and we did. It was great to sit down and catch up. We hadn’t really spoken in about six months, so it was good to hear what was going on in her life.

Baylee: I said, “It’s good to see you again. Now that the pressure is off, let’s get drunk!” The Post did an excellent job of matching up two very compatible people. A friend of mine jokes that, on paper, we’re soul mates. I definitely had the mind-set of This is a date; I’m going to give it a shot. I [had been] really excited about the possibility of meeting a good match.

Michael: I can see where The Post was going in setting us up. We’re both athletic. We’re both very driven. We take our training seriously. We take our work seriously.

Baylee: After a few glasses of wine, we started talking about what we wrote on our applications. And he said, “You are pretty much exactly what I described on my application.”

Michael: It was a date ... it just happened to not be a blind date. As far as the difference between dating and going out with a friend ... that’s a bit of a tricky line, isn’t it? Almost like the famous Supreme Court definition of pornography.

Baylee: I think being out with a friend means you have easy, casual conversation and are engaged in what the other person has to say and what they do. Being on a date, on the other hand, involves an attraction and flirtation, which I think should develop pretty naturally and quickly. Dinner with a friend is more of a catch-up, while a date is an attempt to explore someone on a deeper level to see if at some point you can ask yourself, “Would I want to talk with this person every day of my life?” and be able to answer “yes” without hesitation. You know where you stand in your relationship with a friend, but on a date you spend more time evaluating what kind of future relationship you want to have with the other person.

Michael: We checked to see if we still had each other’s numbers. She still had mine, but I had a new phone, and my contacts hadn’t transferred. She gave me some well-deserved kidney punches for [that].

Baylee: We stayed until they closed. We were having a ball. The most entertaining part of the evening is that our waiter didn’t know we knew each other and kept coming over and commenting on how he and the wait staff could just see the chemistry between us, that we looked like we were really hitting it off. He said we looked like we had known one another forever. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth.

Michael: She was going to take a cab. I offered her a ride home; since we already knew each other, I didn’t think that offer would seem creepy or stalker-ish. I’m from the South, and I try to be as much [of] a gentleman as I’m allowed. I dropped her off, gave her a good-bye hug and said we would try to do this again soon.

Baylee: The chemistry just wasn’t there this time, either. Even after a bottle of wine, it wasn’t there. It was a great date, don’t get me wrong. It definitely rekindled a great friendship, so I’m happy about that. Who knows what would have happened if we didn’t have this history, but it’s there and you can’t change that.

Michael: I had a great time, way more fun that I’ve had on any first date. I’d give it a 5 [out of 5]. Now that we don’t both work on the Hill, I’d like to go out again. We were already talking about needing to get together again. I still can’t really say anything about chem­is­-try, but I am glad we’re back in touch.

Baylee: I’d give the date overall a 5, but in terms of chemistry, a 1. You guys did a good job matching our interests, but there’s no potential there for a relationship as far as I can tell.

UPDATE: Baylee and Michael have texted since the date and have been trying to find a time to get together for drinks. Meanwhile, if you think you’d be a match for either of them (and, ahem, haven’t already dated them), e-mail us at datelab@washpost.com.

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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