Here at Date Lab, we understand that many daters turn to us because this city is starting to feel too small. So, you trust us to introduce you to someone you’d never have met on your own. And most of the time — like, 99.9 percent of the time! — that is exactly what we do. Except this time, we matched two guys who have been friendly for years.

Through this date, did they discover latent romantic feelings? Was there chemistry they’d never explored until encouraged to consider each other as potential partners by the Date Lab powers-that-be? I’m not going to tell you yet … keep reading.

Jared DeWese, 39, is the communications director of the climate and energy policy team at a think tank. He applied to Date Lab pre-pandemic, cheered on by a crowd of cubicle mates at his office. “I would like to be in a long-term relationship,” he said. “I eventually would like to get married and have children.” His priorities in said partner? Intelligence, “a quirky sense of humor … and someone who has their own life. Two souls that become one? That sounds horrible.”

Jamol West, 31, works in digital communications and also signed up for Date Lab back in 2019, when a relationship ended and he was wondering, “What else is out there?” “I don’t want to say, ‘I don’t have an issue getting a date,’ ” he clarified. “But I don’t.” He has found himself in “a lot of situationships.” “Good people, but not people I see myself building anything with.”

Jamol is thinking more long-term now: “Something that would be more than a season.” He cares about finding someone open-minded, family-oriented — which can mean their family or their friends — and at the end of the day, he’s got to be attracted to the person. Does he have a type? “My friends would say I like a big, linebacker-looking person,” he said. “I like height.”

We sent Jared and Jamol to Agua 301 at Yards Park. Jared had no excuse for being 30 minutes late — we’re pretty sure it is a Date Lab record. “I know. I know. It’s terrible!” Was he nervous? “I’ve been dating so long. I’ve been dating since I was 14 years old.” So, no. He just got caught up in a hot mess of a workday. But he did prepare for the date by buying a new shirt from Asos, plus he emailed a heads-up about his delay. As for the (punctual) Jamol: He got a haircut, upgraded from his standard T-shirt and jeans to “a short-sleeve button-down with some kind of crazy print from Asos” and shorts, and drove in from Maryland.

So how did they feel when they saw each other? Though Jamol was a little “disappointed” not to go on “a truly blind date,” he was also excited to get one-on-one time with someone he usually sees in group settings, where the conversation can’t go too deep. Jared felt similarly: “Jamol is super funny and super fun, so [I knew that], even if this isn’t a real date, we’re gonna have a good time.” Which doesn’t mean Jared was committed to it not being a real date. “I was open to anything.”

Over “margaritas on margaritas” plus a shot apiece of Casamigos tequila, Jamol and Jared caught up and got into what Jamol described as “some deep personal stuff.” “We were talking about our parents aging, what it would look like to have kids in the future with a partner or single,” he said, as well as their work and dating. The night ended when Jared walked Jamol to his car and a conversation about “The Real Housewives of New York City” — specifically, Jared explained, “how Ramona has to go” — got so animated that strangers passing by weighed in.

Both reported zero flirting or sparks, but Jared still had an illuminating realization about their evening together. “I think I’ve never been so vulnerable with someone on a ‘date’ in my life. I learned so much about him and so much about myself,” he said. “And one of the things I said was, ‘If this was a date with someone I planned to go on a date with, I likely would not have been this open and vulnerable.’ And that taught me a lesson about dating and sending your representative instead of sending yourself.”

“Ultimately, it was good to catch up with a friend in a way you don’t usually get to talk to them,” said Jamol. “But there’s nothing more than platonic with us.”

“I think what will happen is that we will be closer as friends,” Jared said. “I don’t know how we would have gotten closer had we not done that last night.”

Rate the date

Okay, this is a weird one! They both gave each other a 5 (out of 5) as friends. But can a date really get 5 stars if you don’t want to date the person again? Please debate.


Jamol and Jared decided to remain friends.

Jessica M. Goldstein is a regular contributor to the magazine and The Post’s Style section.