Her date, 28-year-old journalist Chris Quintana, is the opposite. He so enjoys the entire dating process that he even likes the apps, which Date Lab participants tend to complain about.
It was a dank and steamy night in late September when Diana and Chris met at the Brick Lane Restaurant near Dupont Circle. The couple sweated through their obligatory Date Lab photo shoot. Chris said their mutual perspiration mitigated awkwardness.
They took their seats toward the quiet back of the restaurant where, by all accounts, the conversation flowed and similarities were unearthed. Both, for example, were raised Catholic and are the eldest sibling in relatively large families.
But once the talk turned to romance, there was some possibly ill-conceived candor. Honesty can filter people out, saving everyone time. But it can also be as efficient and brutal as a swift blow to the head.
Over appetizers, Diana blurted out the words “noncommittal monogamy” to describe her dating style. Chris thought Diana’s term was “a nice little turn of phrase” that nonetheless made him wary about counting her as a bona fide romantic prospect.
“It’s not like I have my eye out for another guy. I just know that at any moment I could be like, ‘Actually, I want to do something else,’ ” said Diana, explaining the concept to me later.
Chris, meanwhile, is looking for commitment. When Diana revealed her “Runaway Bride”-like tendencies, he wondered, “Okay, what are you trying to tell me here?”
Diana said that the remark was “flippant” and that she regretted Chris picking up on it. “I kind of hate that I said that,” she told me. “I hope he didn’t take it too seriously.”
Well, he did, but not so seriously that it ruined his good time. “She was a good listener and asked good questions,” he said. “I felt heard.” (Perhaps she is a slightly better listener than he is: During his interview, Chris repeatedly pronounced her name as “Die-anne-uh,” though she actually says it “Dee-ah-nuh.” Later, when I made Chris aware of his mistake, he sent me a thoughtful note about it. “I want to make sure it’s clear I am sorry for that,” he wrote.)
Over entrees of hanger steak with mashed potatoes and spinach for him and grilled salmon for her, they chatted about journalism (he writes it, she reads it), TV and hip bands of the aughts. They both agreed on the greatness of Interpol and the Strokes, but Chris went a little far for Diana when he mentioned that he also loves the Killers. “She was like, ‘The Killers are all glam.’ I was like, ‘Okay…’ ” recalled Chris, with a chuckle. “ ‘That’s a fair point, but also, I did just say I love them.’ ” Clearly, Diana isn’t the type to just tell you what you want to hear.
Though Chris initially enjoyed being tucked in a quiet corner of the restaurant, midway through their meal a party was seated by them that included a man with a “booming voice.” About an hour into their date, Chris suggested continuing at another venue.
Why did he do that if he was already committed in his aversion to Diana’s aversion to commitment? Well, he was enjoying himself and wanted to see if the change in setting would help intensify their focus. Diana was game.
They took a 20-minute stroll to Jug & Table, and the more relaxed atmosphere did foster a greater sense of intimacy, said Chris. Still, there was no romantic spark. When prompted later to interrogate why this had been the case despite a sense of physical attraction (he dug her red hair, she his lanky frame and ’stache), they both blamed it on themselves. Chris wondered if he wasn’t projecting enough interest to have it be returned (and, in turn, attract him further); she thought maybe she was too sweaty from the humidity to feel hot in her own right (who can compete with extended-summer heat?).
They did exchange numbers, but that seemed like more of a goodwill gesture from two considerate people. “I didn’t see us having to kiss or something like that,” said Diana, who generally knows if she’ll be moved to do so on sight of her date, or after a few drinks. In this case, she explained, “I didn’t feel it either way.”
Rate the date
Diana: 4.5 [out of 5]. I know that’s high, but it’s because he was really great and really easy to talk to.
Chris: 3.5. The company was good, I had a good time, but we’re speaking strictly as a date.
No further contact.