The Washington Post

Date Lab: Keep calm and meet your soul mate. Or not.

Interviews by Amanda McGrath

Stephen Schrock, 26, mechanical engineer, and Joshuah Marshall, 30, federal Indian policy analyst. (Photo courtesy of daters)

Book-loving, globe-trotting Joshuah likes guys who are slightly calmer and more creative than he is while still sharing his intellectual bent and quirky sense of humor. Stephen says he’s a “nice Midwestern guy” who’s looking for a man who’s funny, enjoys travel and “has goals in life.” We had them meet up at Marvin on 14th Street NW.

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Our highly analytical tool for determining whether our daters will hit it off.

Stephen: First impression, he’s a very handsome guy. Our initial greeting was a little formal, a handshake, I think because we both just didn’t know quite what to do in this moment.

Joshuah: He was cute, tall — taller than me, which was a plus. He was wearing jeans, a cute little patterned button-down shirt and glasses. He has a calming persona; he makes you feel very comfortable right off the bat.

Stephen: We ordered wine and appetizers. And kind of started talking about why we were doing Date Lab. For me, it was just kind of meeting someone outside of my normal circle.

Joshuah: We talked about the gay community in D.C., because we’re both new to it and trying to figure out how to make friends. We talked about places to meet people and all that jazz. He’s in a gay kickball league to meet people; I do rowing, with the gay rowing team DC Strokes.

Stephen: There’s not much of a social life in my work life. Whereas I think for him, he works with a lot of younger people who do have social happy hours and all that kind of stuff.

Joshuah: You know when sometimes it takes a lot of effort to speak with someone and coming up with ways to engage them? None of that was there.

Stephen: We both come from large extended families. We talked more about what we did for work and where we’d traveled. I found his Peace Corps time to be really interesting, living in Morocco.

Joshuah: Being in the Peace Corps makes you very comfortable in any new situation and with new people. He’s an engineer, but he originally went to school to be an architect. I like that creative with a mix of practical.

Stephen: He seemed like an easygoing and joyful person, but not enough happened for our sense of humor to fully develop.

Joshuah: I don’t know if we were clicking, per se, but there was a positive energy about us. It was a fun and jovial kind of time. [But] I guess for there to be sparks, there’d have to be more passion, more witty back-and-forth, more repartee.

Stephen: By the end of the night we were joking around with the waitstaff. It ended up being a lot of fun. He offered to go out for a nightcap. But at that point it was 10:30, and I have to get up pretty early, so unfortunately I had to say no.

Joshuah: It was a Sunday, and it was late. If it’d been a Friday or Saturday, we both would have been more open to going out to do other things. We exchanged numbers.

Stephen: I waited around until he got into a cab. We hugged, [and] I gave him a kiss on the cheek, just very quick as he was leaving.


Stephen: I would rate it a 4 [out of 5]. He’s very friendly, kept the conversation going, easy to get along with. I wouldn’t rate it higher, because the romantic vibe wasn’t quite there.

Joshuah: It wasn’t electrifying, so I wouldn’t give it a 5. [But] I’d enjoy seeing him again. So I think a 3.8.


Joshuah and Stephen have been chatting since their date and plan to meet up for happy hour soon. Still more friends than romance, but you never know.

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