Date Lab: Can this couple recover from an awkward start?


(Photograph courtesy daters)
June 6, 2013

She likes an outdoorsy type; he likes the outdoors. Both enjoy a good beer and Louis CK. Add in some small plates at Zaytinya, and it sounds like a recipe for easy banter and a laid-back good time, right?

Emily: I guess just having a strange group of people set me up with somebody, I feel like my expectations were pretty low, but he was cute, kind of, like, nerdy cute: tall, glasses, nice-looking. He seemed really friendly.

Stefan: I definitely thought she was attractive. … I was pleasantly surprised.

Emily: This was my first real blind date. This was the first time I’ve gone someplace where I don’t know anything about the person except for their name.

(Photographs of  Stephen Chow, left, in "Kung Fu Hustle" by Reuters/Lee Celano; Kevin Spacey in "The Usual Suspects" by Reuters; elephant by Bigstock; mantis shrimp by Istockphoto; michelada, left, and beer by Bigstock; Norton from Library of Congress; Franken by Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Stefan: I was definitely more nervous than I expected. I went into it thinking, Well, this is a completely blind date, so I can’t be blamed for it going badly — too much, anyway. But that was me trying to, I guess, relax my nerves, and I’m not sure it worked as well as I would have wanted it.

Emily: I think conversation was a little bit more difficult than I’ve ever had on a first date before. I don’t generally have an issue making conversation with people. But at least halfway ... through the date, I was [thinking], Man, I’m really struggling here.

Stefan: There were a couple of lulls and slight bits of awkwardness here and there. Like I said, I was nervous going into it, and while it definitely got better, I’m not sure I ever totally got over the head-spinning [feeling].

Emily: We got our appetizers and asked the waiter to take our picture. ... He took two pictures and then asked us why we needed them, and we [told him] and he said, “Oh, let me take the cameras, and I’ll take some candids of you guys.” And we both said, “Sure.”

Stefan: That was a cool part of Emily’s personality ... that she was willing to go along with it.

Emily: We’d be talking, and I’d see a flash go off and be like, “Oh, crap.” That was like a fun little [part of] the whole meal, like, “When is this guy going to sneak up and take a picture of us?”

Stefan: We had a couple of drinks during dinner. And then we decided we’d continue the conversation over another drink. ... We ended up going down to Iron Horse [Taproom].

Emily: He asked if I wanted to get a drink someplace else, and I said yes, mainly because I was [thinking]: If we get out of this restaurant and this scenario, maybe it will get better. And it definitely did.

Emily: Stefan: I think by that point we’d been starting to get a little bit more free-flowing conversationally.

Emily: He seems like a really interesting person. He has a pact with a friend of his to do one thing every year that’s out of their comfort zone, like skydiving or getting scuba-certified or going whitewater rafting or something like that, which sounds really cool and very adventurous, and I was like, “Oh, that’s awesome.” It’s weird, I never would have expected that from the person that I was talking with at dinner. So I feel like part of the whole awkward feeling was a little bit because of the scenario. But I’m not totally sure.

Stefan:It was after 11, and we decided we should call it a night. I walked out with her and helped her flag down a cab, almost forgot to ask for her number — one of my moments of throwing a bit of awkwardness into it.

Emily: We exchanged numbers, and then I said, “This was fun.” And he said, “I think so, too.” And then I said, “Okay, well, maybe I’ll see you.” ... We hugged, and I got in a cab.

RATE THE DATE

Stefan: I’d give it a 4 [out of 5]. I definitely had a good time. I will probably be giving her a call to see if she wants to give it another go.

Emily: I would give it a 3.8. Four is like an 80 percent. And I feel like for, like, three-quarters of the date, I was ready to pack it up and go home. But then, the last part of the date was much better.

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UPDATE: The two exchanged texts the day after the date (Stefan initiated) and met up the next week for drinks and dinner at Hill Country. Stefan said that although they had a good time, he got the sense that it probably wouldn’t go past friendship, and Emily agreed. “I felt super friendly towards him,” Emily said. “It was fine. But I guess I was looking for more than fine.”

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