It was a year of highs (an engagement! a wedding!) and lows (we got stood up) and everything in between — from the slightly awkward to the sorta sweet to the head-scratchingly strange. But no matter what, when our daters tell their stories in their own words, we’re sure to come up with some choice sound bites. Here, in chronological order, are our picks for the best Date Lab lines of 2011 — and where our quotable subjects are now.
Is that a good thing?
“He was like, ‘You know all about sports; you’re like a dude!’ And I said, ‘FYI, calling your date a dude might not go over that well; keep that in mind!’ ”
Katie Miller, 32, on her date with Christian Bentley, 32
Then: We’ve seen daters ditch each other for far less, and yet Katie wasn’t put off in the least by Chris’s awkwardly phrased compliment. In fact, the two hit it off, bonding over sports and hamming it up for the camera. Both gave the date a glowing 4.5 out of 5 and planned to meet again.
Now: By the end of their second date Katie says she realized that “we’re actually very different.” Chris, she said, “is an absolutely, amazingly wonderful guy, but he was on the path to family and being settled, and I still get anxious if I spend more than two weekends in a row without leaving the D.C. metro area.”
“She’s not the kind of girl you fall in love with; she’s someone you grow in love with.”
Yuri Borovsky, 25, on his date with Becky Strauss, 26
Then: He did not mean this as an insult, we know. But still! Fortunately, Becky says, “I was thinking of it as a compliment, actually.” On the date, too, they’d been on the same page. And though they’d eschewed flirting (“We’re a little too pragmatic for that,” said Yuri), they did dive deep into discussion about the GDP and defense issues. Yuri rated the date a 5; Becky gave it a 4 and said, “I think we have a good base from which to build some kind of a relationship.”
Now: Becky and Yuri had a second date, but nothing more developed. Still, they got a mention in the Atlantic’s “Conversation” column (Becky was reading the magazine when Yuri arrived for the date) and “it was a really good time,” Becky says. “I don’t regret it at all.”
The Facebook test
“I think she has something like 65 or 75 friends, and I have, like, 3,300. We’ll see what happens.”
Michael Donovan, 31, on his date with Lisa Beach, 32
Then: They spent a few hours tackling a treetop obstacle course but didn’t find fertile ground for romance. Michael, an extrovert, noted, “I don’t think we have much in common.” Lisa was turned off when he started explaining what pita and hummus are and by his schmoozing with strangers sharing the course. And while Michael and Lisa connected on Facebook after the date, Lisa defriended him just a week later, citing his propensity for leg-shaving, using hair gel and tweeting, a habit she said “is pretty dorky.”
Now: No contact for these two, on social media or otherwise. It’s not unusual for Date Labbers to be contacted by readers looking to get together, but the guy who got in touch with Lisa after her appearance in the Magazine was 30 years her senior and bragged about his bank account and his beach house. “I was so weirded out,” she told us. “I’m like, ‘I am not impressed.’ Ew.”
The blunt assessment
“He looked like a scrawny, more dorky version of my brother.”
Maribeth Sarnecki, 26, on her date with Matt Statler, 28
Then: Ouch. It didn’t get much better from there. “I wasn’t really attracted to her,” Matt said later. And the commonalities we thought we saw on their applications didn’t materialize in real life: Maribeth, for example, noted that she’s an ardent baseball fan, while her date “flat-out said he had not watched baseball in 15 years.” So, no surprise when he said he “didn’t get any flirting signs from her” and admitted he wasn’t attracted, either. They ended the date as Facebook friends.
Now: Even the digital friendship was a no-go. “Right after the article was published, I saw that we were no longer Facebook friends,” Matt says. The story did prompt a message from another woman via Facebook. That date didn’t turn into a relationship either. “But we’re still in touch,” he notes. Which is a shade better than the Date Lab outcome.
A lost art
“I like to banter. Whatever happened to banter? Why is banter so hard to find? I was not getting a lot of banter.”
Elizabeth Emerson, 36, on her date with Bradley Podliska, 37
Then: Banter was definitely in short supply on this date, as was any chance of romance. Brad said he knew “in 150 milliseconds,” the night would most likely be sparkless. He was hoping for someone “more expressive,” he said. “She didn’t tell one joke the entire night.” Elizabeth, meanwhile, found Brad lacking in the “charm and repartee” she prefers. So we weren’t surprised when Bradley told us he’d offered a second date and been met with, “We’ll see how it goes.”
Now: The date was a dud, but Brad says he still gets feedback on the article. “I am also still getting asked out and getting set up by friends,” he says. “All because of Date Lab.”
Dating as spectator sport
“These people next to us found out we were on Date Lab. The woman was very drunk and said, ‘No one ever works out ... [but] you two are going to last.’”
Annie Gawkowski, 23, on her date with Andy Newbold, 23
Then: For a brief moment, it seemed the drunk lady might have been right — they closed down the bar and engaged in some smooching. “We clicked so much — we will definitely go out again,” Annie said the next day. But a week later she said her low expectations for the night might have led her to give a more glowing report than was warranted. “I’m not sure he’s someone I would pursue romantically,” she said then.
Now: A few days after doing Date Lab, “I met someone wonderful,” Annie says. “We are in a very happy relationship now.” Well, at least someone is.
“As it was coming out of my mouth, I was like, ‘Oh, no. I should definitely not lead with this.’ ”
Bennett Podolsky, 26, on his date with Jane Leinecker, 24
Then: When Jane said she’d gone to William and Mary, Bennett blurted out the first thing that came to mind: “I had looked at going there, but at the time I had read it was the number one suicide school.” But though Jane admitted the citing of depressing stats about her alma mater “was definitely not what I was expecting,” she wasn’t offended. Despite the gaffe, the two hit it off in a big way, bonding over travel talk and capping off the evening with a faux palm reading.
Now: Good news: They’re still going strong. And they had plans to meet each other’s families for the holidays.
The warm fuzzies
“There never was a point where we had to say it; I could just feel like we were going to go out again. It was so easy to talk to him.”
Faren Grant, 24 on her date with Mustafa Lufti, 25
Then: Theirs was the sort of date that makes a matchmaking editor swoon. Faren went from being uncertain — “I was starting to think, Why had I signed up for this?” — to relaxed. Sparks? Without a doubt, said Mustafa. “I could definitely see me kicking it with her.” The date ended with high marks. When we talked to them later, they’d even had a successful second date’ “I like how this is going,” Mustafa said.
Now: Did we say swooning? Shut it down. Though they went out a few more times, Faren and Mustafa ultimately decided “to go our separate ways.”
Well, someone’s feeling saucy
“I believe Tim said, ‘You need to stop telling me this story, because I’m picturing you naked in a beer bath.’ ”
Laura Hatcher, 29, on her date with Tim Kustusch, 26
Then: Before you label Tim a creep, we should elaborate: Laura was filling him in on her trip to a Czech Republic beer spa, which involved soaking in pilsner-filled tubs. And by this point Tim — whose first impression of Laura to be “taken aback by how pretty she was” — clearly sensed some chemistry. By the time last call was sounded, Tim had sneaked a peck on the cheek (“It was my achievement of the night.”) and the two had traded numbers.
Now: A few more dates followed, and the two “had a great time together,” Tim says. But then he moved away for work, “so things kind of fizzled out.” No hard feelings, Laura says: “I’ve got so much respect for Tim. I wish him well!”
“Apparently, ferrets are a deal breaker for him. I told him I have donkeys.”
Lizard Walker-Keegan, 25, on her date with John Clary, 27
Then: At first, we feared these two would be geographically incompatible. After all, she does live way the heck out in Knoxville, Md. (we’ll wait while you Google it ... there, see?), while he’s in the District. But John found it “exciting that she lives out in the woods.” And the donkeys? “Intriguing,” John said. The two were charmingly quirky, and though they left the date noting no serious romantic sparks, they said they were open to the possibility sparks would develop.
Now: John took a trip out to Lizard’s neck of the woods, but sadly, they had to concede there would be no chemistry. “We haven’t been in contact or seen each other since,” Lizard says.
Spotted someone in Date Lab this year who might be a fit for you — or someone you know? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to give some of our mismatched daters a second chance.