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Date Lab: Will a loaded question weigh down this date?

Sunday, March 21, 2010; W06

7:30 P.M., ARIA TRATTORIA, DOWNTOWN

Steven: I arrived around 7:30, and Anne was already seated. The host waved me over in her direction. I had seen her in the window and hoped it was her. I thought she was cute and well dressed. I walked over and introduced myself. She stood up and shook my hand.

Anne: I thought he was very good-looking. He was clean-cut. He was preppy, and I usually go for preppy guys. We started chatting right off. We talked about why we were doing [Date Lab] and joked about our reservations. He's a professor and was afraid his students would read it. I told him the four-page [legal] disclaimer made me think twice. He could have been a serial killer. He volunteered to do a background check. I told him I might take him up on it.

Steven: We had a drink and talked quite a bit before we ordered. She jumped in and asked if I wanted to share an appetizer. I think that's fun for a date. One of the things that she brought up was that her parents just moved. She talked in a sweet way about her parents. We talked a lot about our respective nieces and nephews. We weren't talking about it in the "Hey, you want to have kids someday?" way. It just came very naturally to her in how she cares about her family.

Anne: I think people who have good relations with their family are happier people. I would love at some point down the line if [someone I'm dating] would make the effort to get to know my family and vice versa. We also talked about the volunteer work we do and about giving back to the community that we live in. He accompanies students on their volunteer trips during their breaks. We've both tutored students in an after-school program. I think when you volunteer in the community, it grounds you. That's really important.

Steven: We both have distinct opinions about what we want to do in terms of community service. That was a highlight of our conversation. There was a moment where our eyes met in that [flirty] kind of way. I thought, Here's the turning point. Now she'll talk to me about what she's passionate about. She was warm from the beginning, but I got the sense she was being a little guarded.

Anne: He asked me where I saw myself in 10 years. I didn't know what he was looking for with that, so I answered as best I could. [At another point], he asked me where I went to school and when I graduated. I gave him a funny look and asked him if he was trying to figure out my age. He swore his cousin went to the same school and [he] was just trying to figure out if we knew the same people. When he asked me about my age and where I wanted to be in 10 years, I felt a little guarded. That's a really loaded question. If you're a woman in your 30s, that seems loaded with "Do you want to get married and have kids?"

Steven: It was just a conversation starter. I'm really energetic, and I like to keep a rapid-fire conversation going. We shared dessert. That ended up being fun, because they had an Ecuadoran chocolate dessert. I told her I had been in Ecuador a month ago. We finished dinner around 10:30, and I asked her if she wanted to go for another drink. I was glad she accepted. It was a personal invitation rather than a setup. We went a few blocks away to the Black Fox for another drink.

Anne: Toward the end of the night, it seemed like we felt more comfortable with each other. When we were taking pictures, it was nice that he stood close to me and put his arm around me. When we were talking at the bar, we were facing each other. I think there's potential. I did give him a hug when we left.

Steven: I asked her for her number in the bar, and we left around 11:30. I'd give [the date] a 3.5 [out of 5]. I had a really nice time and felt very at ease in her presence. We have already texted about seeing each other again. I just hope that on a second date, she'd be a little more open.

Anne: I would give the date a 4. I had a really enjoyable time. I thought he was really interesting, very multi-dimensional.

Interviews by Kelly DiNardo

Update: Steven and Anne met for coffee a few days after their date. The next night, they bumped into each other while out with friends on U Street, but both say the unexpected meeting was awkward. There hasn't been contact since.

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