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Date Lab: Will it be a picture-perfect match for this actress and photographer?

(Courtesy of Rafael and Katie)

Two locals, actor/marketer Katie McManus, 39, and freelance photographer Rafael Suanes, 40, share a common Virginia background and a love of travel. Is that enough to make it work? We sent them to dinner at Delia’s in Alexandria.

Rafael: I didn’t have a lot of expectations. I wanted to make sure I set the bar low, so anything more and I’d be surprised. I thought she was beautiful.

Katie: My first impression was — it was good. He was handsome. I was relieved. He put his hand out, and I said, “No, I definitely think we should hug.” That is how I am.

Rafael: It put me at ease. I realized she was going to be in for the date, not just as a formality.


Katie: He went to high school around here, and so did I. The majority of my very close circle of friends — none of them are from around here. D.C. is such a transient area. I’m always surprised when I meet another local.

Rafael: I expected a transplant like most people in the area. Meeting someone who grew up in the same area as I grew up was surprising. Her mom lives blocks from where I do.

Katie: He had just come back from a trip, and it happened to be Ireland, and I studied abroad in Ireland.

Rafael: Where I was staying in Dublin is across the street from the school where she studied abroad. It was nice to have a lot of things in common.

Katie: He was there for a week. I was very jealous and very eager to get back there.

Rafael: The conversation went back and forth the entire night. We’re both in kind of creative fields. We talked a lot about what the other person did.

Katie: He talked about his career for a long time. There was a point where I was like, I don’t even know if he’s ever going to ask me what I do. That happens on lots of dates with me. I like to ask questions. He asked me finally.

Rafael: She is an actress and a singer. She kind of dances, as well. She was telling me about the place she is going to work next week. I told her one of my clients has me cover some of their theater performances. She talked about her aspect of being in the plays, and I talked about my aspect of covering the plays as an outsider.

Katie: I think he was more shocked because I am a working actor/singer in the area. Most people don’t know that D.C. has a thriving theater scene.

Rafael: We were done eating. We weren’t going to order any dessert, so I suggested we go somewhere else, and she was cool with it.

Katie: He didn’t know where to go, so our waitress had a few suggestions. It was Jackson 20 in Old Town. We had to drive, and he insisted he drive and I leave my car there, so that’s what we did.

Rafael: We each ordered a beer at the bar. We both have the same taste in beer — we like IPAs. That was another weird coincidence.

Katie: It definitely was less formal. I could tell he was a little bit less nervous. He kind of took control during that second half of the date.

Rafael: I was very impressed with her. She is very down-to-earth. Very open. Very friendly.

Katie: He definitely came out of his shell a little more, which is always nice.

Rafael: I’m guessing we probably left around 11 or maybe a little later. At that point it was starting to snow. It was starting to come down kind of hard. I drove her back to her car.

Katie: We had a little kiss. And I think a hug, too. He asked me out while we were at the second bar. And he got my number at the very last second — right as we were standing by my car. He just said, “I’d really like to see you again.” I said sure.

Rate the date

Rafael: I would rate it a 5. I sent her a quick text to tell her I had a great time. She is going to be in New Orleans (for the holidays). I hope to hear from her while she is gone.

Katie: 4. I loved getting to know a new person. To me that is the most important part. I do think we are going out again. He has expressed that and has followed up with that. I think we will.


UPDATE: The couple attempted to set up another date, but Katie postponed it twice. On the third attempt to reschedule, she texted Rafael that she wasn’t interested in a second date.

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