On paper, Andrea and Zach seemed like a great match. Then we found out they already knew each other. Had close friends been missing what was right in front of them? We had to find out.
7:30 P.M., BOULEVARD WOODGRILL, CLARENDON
Andrea: I first met Zach almost four years ago. We were teachers at the same school. He's totally my type: tall, dark, good-looking, athletic. But I guess I had just kind of put him in that friend category.
Zach: She's definitely an attractive person. [But] I did not think that she was interested in me at all. So we just hung out as friends. [The date was] an opportunity to see if a friendship could be something more.
Andrea: I was so nervous, I went out and bought a new shirt like I would do if I [were] going out with someone else.
Zach: I got there about 10 minutes early [and waited] outside.
Andrea: I took the Metro and was walking down Wilson, and we kind of ran into each other. I didn't know if I should hug him. It was kind of awkward. We walked into the restaurant together.
Zach: They sat us outside. We fast-forwarded through the get-to-know-you thing. She was the one who said, "Sure, why not?" [to Date Lab] first. I asked her how [she came] to that decision.
Andrea: I was like, "I filled out the form, and I realized it described you." He seemed genuinely surprised. He mentioned that his perception of me was that I was unapproachable, that I am the person that, at a party, is in the middle telling jokes. So I guess his reasoning for not initially seeing me as a potential person to date was, like, I'm a bitch. I mean, he didn't say that, but like, "You're the popular girl." It was mind-blowing to see how I came across to another person.
Zach: It's not a mean popular girl. She's very nice. It's just she's always surrounded by people. [I'm] much more reserved.
Andrea: We split a crab appetizer and ordered our food. [The conversation] wasn't awkward at all. We have mutual friends. We were both teachers, both like country music, both like sports. There was a lot of teasing back and forth about the popular thing. I was defending my dorkiness.
Zach: I got to know her in a totally different way. She doesn't fit the stereotype. I think I knew it before the date, but talking with her really helped cement it. She does hang out with a lot more people, [but] she still has those insecurities; she loves reading and being a homebody and having that one person that you can share something with.
Andrea: There wasn't obvious instant chemistry, but I didn't necessarily think that there would be because I'm so comfortable with him. [Around] 10:30, we decided to [see] the monuments. We were taking pictures and having a lot of fun.
Zach: I think there was flirting, [but] I don't think it was overt. On the [Date Lab questionnaire] she checks off on everything that I'm looking for. [But] I just recently met someone. [Andrea] knew all about me meeting the other girl. I talk to her about everything. I really want to give this other relationship a chance. But at the same time I'm having a blast with Andrea. Is it a romantic blast or a blast with a friend? And how do you tell the difference?
Andrea: I think, at that point, I had come to the conclusion that this isn't going to go somewhere. The whole thing about him saying I wasn't his type kind of ended it for me. I don't like thinking that I would intimidate someone that much that he thought he had no chance . I was like, "We're better as friends." And he agreed.
Zach: It's just one of those things where you go with the gut. I'm very happy that we were able to sit down and talk about it. If I had done this with a complete blind date, I would have been on the phone or [chatting online] with [Andrea] and telling her all these things. She's the one I would have shared it with.
Andrea: It was like 11:20. He drove me to my car. We took one more picture and hugged. He was like, "We have dinner plans; let's watch the game Saturday," which is good. I didn't want it to be weird.
Zach: I felt kind of bad because it reads like a movie script, but the ending doesn't have that Hollywood flair. But it was a relief to get it out there.
Andrea: I'd [rate the date] a 3 [out of 5]. We had a good time, and I got to learn stuff about him I didn't know. But it didn't work out.
Zach: [I'd rate it] a 3.5. I enjoy hanging out with her and talking to her. I just didn't feel the need to pursue it in [a romantic] direction.
-- Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades
UPDATE: Zach and Andrea got together a week later as friends and were comfortable enough to joke about their date. "It feels like we fell back into the friend routine pretty easily," Zach says.