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Date Lab: In which we turn the matchmaking tables (again)

By Amanda McGrath,

How well do daters know what they want? A few weeks ago, we ran an experiment in which we gave one woman a sneak peek at the profiles of three bachelors and let her choose her own date. Claire was drawn to Ryan’s profile, but the two didn’t click in person; she came away from the date realizing what she really wanted was a quirky West Coaster.

This week, our make-your-own-match experimenting continues (this is Date Lab, after all). Our latest guinea pig is Tom, who recently arrived in Washington bearing good looks, a bit of charm and a British accent to boot. We offered up an array of possible dates. Tom reviewed their profiles — culled from applications in our database, but without names or photos — and chose the one he liked best. Here, he explains his decision. Stay tuned for next week, when we’ll see what happened when he met his pick in person.

About the dater ...

Dating history as a TV show ...

A young American navigates the complex game of English middle-class dating.

Brag a little ...

I’ve spent most of my life living in the U.K., so I have a British accent. I also like to think I have at least a little British charm. I’m good-looking, intelligent, and I have a fun sense of humor. I also tend to go into dates with a very open mind, so even if we don’t have a romantic connection, we tend to have fun.

Last book read ...

“In the President’s Secret Service” by Ronald Kessler.

First thing in the morning ...

Check the news/e-mail and then go for a run.

How you’re D.C. ...

I interned in D.C. in 2004, but I haven’t lived in D.C. until now. I would say that I am a D.C. type because I love politics, I love sports, and I love the mix of people and culture in the city.

Dream date ...

A Mila Kunis type — someone stunning, cool, confident and with a great sense of humor.

Interests to share ...

Politics, culture, sports, interest in the world, good sense of humor.

***

About the bachelorettes:

Bachelorette No. 1: 25, financial planner

Quick — what’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Make my bed.

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?

The power to heal because it would allow me to restore people’s health, which we often take for granted.

Which three DVDs?

“Arrested Development,” “Mad Men,” “Sex and the City.”

What's the first drink you'd order in a bar?

Malbec or a craft beer I’ve never tried and a glass of water.

What are the chances you’d then start talking to the stranger next to you and end up making a new friend?

Probably a 20 on a scale of 1-27; it’s an arbitrary number.

When are you happiest?

When I’m laughing with family and friends or running.

In what ways would you say you are very D.C.?

I’m ambitious, motivated, responsible, organized, committed, passionate, loyal, dependable, athletic and fun

In what ways aren’t you?

I’m not as high strung or aggressive as many Washingtonians and not as crazy of a driver!

C’mon, brag a little: What makes you a good catch?

I’m extremely versatile and friendly. Although based on appearance many people assume I’m high-maintenance I am far from it. I’m the one in the buffet line helping all the random kids get their food and joking around with them before getting food for myself. Yes, I can put myself together ... but I am very down-to-earth, and although I enjoy dressing up, I enjoy dressing down just as much. As a matter of fact, I have spent most of the past few months in running clothes in preparation for my first marathon, which I ran in September. I am very close to my family and take value in being a great friend. Although I am passionate in what I believe, I am open-minded. I value education and love to learn; knowledge is so powerful. I am responsible, respectful and mature, but have a wild side as well. My colleagues would be shocked to learn that I’ve been cliff-diving, sky-diving, and, okay, I admit that I’ve done a keg stand. I would participate in almost any outdoor activity, I love live sporting events, music and volunteering. It’s all about being well-rounded.

Most singletons say they want to meet someone funny. But what’s your idea of funny?

A peanut walks into a bar. ... It’s assaulted. Haha, okay, but in all seriousness, I just love to laugh. I try to find humor in most situations as long as I can get away with it. I think “Seinfeld,” “Arrested Development” and other shows of that nature are hilarious. I recently sent my mom a text, but auto-correct changed one of the words; not sure it’s appropriate to type on here, but we are still laughing about it.

Imagine your date writes you that s/he is “equally comfortable in jeans or in formal attire.” Your reaction?

Prove it.

What hobbies/interests/outlooks/passions would you hope to share with your date?

I am very active and enjoy running, hiking, kayaking, camping, wakeboarding, skiing etc. ... I’m also very passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and eating well. I enjoy volunteering. ... If I could do anything it would be traveling, and I’m fortunate to have been to all the places I have and plan to continue traveling throughout my life. Although I’m not religious, I believe in many things such as being a good person in all aspects of life, love, helping others, respecting the environment, and learning from our past to create a better future. I also think it’s good to have hobbies and interests of your own that your partner doesn’t necessarily have to share as long as they support you.

***

Bachelorette No. 2: 23, management consulting associate

Quick — what’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Rummage through the fridge for breakfast, as if wishful thinking will conjure leftovers out of thin air.

What’s the last book you read?

I’m currently working my way through three books on my Kindle — “36 Arguments for the Existence of God,” “Consulting Demons” and “Infinite Jest” — fulfilling my masochistic needs for spiritual, ethical and intellectual self-flagellation (respectively).

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?

I hate to be greedy about hypothetical superpowers. I’d love time travel (taking cultural tourism to a new level), transmutation (fulfilling all my material/culinary desires at once), or mind reading (finally understand men). But I’d settle for something far more reasonable, like a semi-photographic memory. I could finally learn how to read Chinese ... and stop asking people for their phone number every time I lose a phone ... and stop losing phones.

Imagine your dating history is being turned into a TV show. Pitch it to us.

Snarky, jaded career girl dates a string of Bad Ideas Who Are Not Her Type while, amazingly, not finding a single nice, semi-attractive liberal nerd in a town supposedly full of them.

What’s the first thing people notice when they walk into your home?

It’s very small, and the walls are deep orange and red. (My roommate’s aesthetic choices, not mine.) The living room, with its sectional sofas and abundance of pillows, is essentially a womb.

When are you happiest?

Biking along the Potomac River on a crisp autumn day.

In what ways would you say you are very D.C.?

I wish Josiah Bartlet were president.

In what ways aren’t you?

I’m pretty ambivalent about happy hours. After a day of button-downs and skirt suits, isn’t it about time to go home and get out of that business casual?

C’mon, brag a little: What makes you a good catch?

I’m cute, I’m sassy, and I pay for my own dinner.

Most singletons say they want to meet someone funny. But what’s your idea of funny?

Dry, intellectual and a little bit edgy. I’m unmoved by jokes that reference sex, scat or stereotypes (a.k.a. “frat boy humor”).

Imagine your date writes you that s/he is “equally comfortable in jeans or in formal attire.” Your reaction?

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and simply ask where he buys that formal attire.

What hobbies/interests/outlooks/passions would you hope to share with your date?

I’m looking for a partner in jam sessions (I play the piano), grand cooking experiments (involving vegetables) and outdoor adventures (early-morning runs to weekend hikes and bike rides). I’d prefer if he were also passionate about social justice with left-leaning politics and somewhat less than fundamentalist in his spiritual beliefs.

***

Bachelorette No. 3: 27, foreign service officer

Quick -- what’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

First Facebook, then “Insanity” workout video or a run.

What’s the last book you read?

En el Pais de la Nube Blanca.” A German book translated to Spanish about two women in the 1850s who move to New Zealand to marry colonists.

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?

Time travel. Definitely. I don’t want to reveal too much dorkiness here, but I think about this a lot. I’d start with a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theater.

What’s the first drink you’d order in a bar?

A beer. It’s just easier for everyone, right?

What are the chances you’d then start talking to the stranger next to you and end up making a new friend?

One hundred percent. That’s pretty much the only way I make friends when I live abroad for my job. When you don’t know anyone you learn to become so much ballsier. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

In what ways would you say you are very D.C.?

I love networking, and I don’t think it’s weird or stunted socially to talk about your job. I love my job!

In what ways aren’t you?

I left my type A personality behind about 11th grade. I am a very chill person who is definitely a yes woman. I am always up for anything, with anyone, anywhere.

C’mon, brag a little: What makes you a good catch?

My friends say I tell great stories, and I’ve got more than white-girl dance moves. I’m smart and I have a great job and I am always in a good mood. I hate drama.

 

Most singletons say they want to meet someone funny. But what’s your idea of funny?

I love sarcasm and practical jokes. I want someone who isn’t afraid to embarrass themselves. I’ve always wanted to date someone who would make a stupid YouTube video of them and their friends lip-syncing to some pop song ... a la Harvard baseball team’s “Call Me Maybe.”

Imagine your date writes you that s/he is “equally comfortable in jeans or in formal attire.” Your reaction?

Excellent. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

What hobbies/interests/outlooks/passions would you hope to share with your date?

I hope that he would like dancing and be liberal. Other than that, as long as he is up for new things, we could each learn about each other’s interests.

***

Bachelorette No. 4: 23, lobbyist

Quick — what’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Make coffee and make sure my roommate gets up.

What’s the last book you read?

Guns Germs and Steel.”

What’s the first drink you’d order in a bar?

A beer (Corona).

What are the chances you’d then start talking to the stranger next to you and end up making a new friend?

Pretty high, that’s how I’ve accumulated most of my friends.

When are you happiest?

Socializing with my friends.

In what ways would you say you are very D.C.?

I work in politics.

In what ways aren’t you?

I’m from New England, and I love everything about it.

C’mon, brag a little: What makes you a good catch?

I’m low-maintenance, I swear. It’s probably the biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten from someone I’ve dated.

 Most singletons say they want to meet someone funny. But what’s your idea of funny?

Nothing really offensive, but a huge fan of Jim Gaffigan, “South Park,” “Family Guy,” “The Office.” Witty humor, I guess, but a little gross.

Imagine your date writes you that s/he is "equally comfortable in jeans or in formal attire." Your reaction?

I’d be pleased, I can’t handle super stuffy.

What hobbies/interests/outlooks/passions would you hope to share with your date?

I like to play tennis, I’d like someone interested in politics and economics. I don’t care about political parties. Someone that likes to be outdoors and isn’t afraid of animals or getting a little dirty. I don’t want to be more masculine than them.

 ***

Bachelorette No. 5: 24, student

Quick — what’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Go back to sleep.

What’s the last book you read?

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter Thompson.

What’s the first drink you’d order in a bar?

Maker’s Mark, on the rocks.

What are the chances you’d then start talking to the stranger next to you and end up making a new friend?

High chance I’d start talking to the person, low chance I’d make a new friend (see above choice of alcohol).

When are you happiest?

When I’m with the people I love.

In what ways would you say you are very D.C.?

I’m into politics, value intelligence and love Jumbo Slice.

In what ways aren’t you?

I’m obsessed with fashion, not obsessed with networking, and don’t understand happy hour (why do I want to get drunk so early?).

C’mon, brag a little: What makes you a good catch?

I am pretty intelligent, most people think I’m funny, and I’m completely myself 100 percent of the time (flaws and all).

Most singletons say they want to meet someone funny. But what’s your idea of funny?

Witty, sarcastic, intelligent humor. Larry David meets Seth Cohen (from “The O.C”).

Imagine your date writes you that s/he is “equally comfortable in jeans or in formal attire.” Your reaction?

Thank God. People in D.C. have THE WORST style; at least this person cares enough to differentiate.

What hobbies/interests/outlooks/passions would you hope to share with your date?

Film, travel, and politics.

So, how did Tom make his choice?

Tom told us blind dates are new for him; he usually ends up meeting women while socializing in bars. “Compared to Europe, [Americans] are a little more open, you can just go up to them without a particular agenda,” he says. “I much prefer the dynamic in D.C. to London. It can be a bit more formal there, [and] people are more suspicious of meeting people in bars. ... The rigid social customs that apply in the U.K. are a bit annoying.”

So what of the potential dates we offered up? “To be honest, all of them were good,” he says. “They all seemed pretty confident, which is a good thing.” He was surprised by those who specified a political party (“I love politics, but I find it odd that people would only date people who shared their political opinion. I guess that’s D.C., though.”) and didn’t concern himself with what the mystery bachelorettes might look like.

“Obviously when [guys] go into a bar, we look at appearance as a first thing. But the key is to have a good connection with somebody and get along,” he says. “I was reading through thinking, What are these people like?, not What do these mean in terms of looks?

He initially chose Bachelorette No. 4, because she “seemed the most relaxed. The answers didn’t seem like they were scripted,” he says. “[Her] answer to the question about ordering in a bar: a beer. It’s simple.” In a stroke of bad luck (and perhaps irony), No. 4 found herself too mired in LSAT preparation to schedule a date. So we called in Tom’s second choice: Bachelorette No. 3. No sweat, says Tom: “For a first date, you just want to have a good time, in a chilled-out way. [No. 3] just seemed like a normal, interesting, relaxed person.”

***

In other Date Lab news ...

Remember Kevin, who was featured in Date Lab last October? Before his date, he’d debated whether or not to shave the mustache he’d grown on a lark. He ultimately decided to return to the razor before his date. And in an online poll we conducted, 61 percent of readers thought he made the right call.

He and his date, Maureen, never got together again (“It just wasn’t there for either of us,” he says now.) But despite the public support for his whisker-less look, he grew his mustache back for “Movember” — the charity movement that had men growing their facial hair to raise awareness about men’s cancers in November. By the time the month was over, his mustache had helped him raise $1,300 for prostate and testicular cancer research.

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