Jeremy Pryor is a 40-year-old mechanical engineer. He is looking for a “smart (not necessarily book smart), mentally strong, determined, blunt, open, outspoken” woman. Ivana Hampton is 41 and works in corporate recruiting. She is seeking a “music lover who is also spiritual, while ambitious,” caring and funny. (Daniele Seiss/For The Washington Post)

"Don't look like a dad," thought Jeremy Pryor, a 40-year-old mechanical engineer from Woodbridge, as he dressed for his date. But, the father of three then thought, "Don't look like a kid." The dates Jeremy has had since his divorce six years ago have taught him that the "first impression is everything."

Over in Alexandria, his date, Ivana Hampton, 41, also worried about how she was presenting herself, having never had a blind date or even an online date before. She stopped at her mom’s house for a last-minute wardrobe check. “Why are you wearing that?” her mom questioned.

“She thought I should wear a dress, but I wasn’t feeling a dress,” Ivana told me. So she kept the pants and ordered a car to Matchbox in Chinatown, arriving about 15 minutes early for the date.

Jeremy had wanted to be the first one there: “To me, being on time is late.” He looked a little frazzled upon arrival. When Ivana saw him, she figured he must be her date and called out his name. She tried to put him at ease. “I say to people they don’t need to be nervous around me because I’m going to talk you to death or something to work it out. Like, let’s work out the nerves,” she explained. (It helps that she works in human resources and recruiting.)

Remembering that all-important first impression of her, without hesitation Jeremy told me, “She was beautiful.” He also picked up on her kindness right away.

A “pleasantly surprised” Ivana thought he was “tall, attractive and friendly-looking.” In her opinion, “a lot of guys in this area have [a] chip on their shoulder, but he didn’t seem to.” That could be because he’s not originally from here. Jeremy’s parents were in the military, so he moved around in his youth and went to high school in London.

His worldliness intrigued Ivana, who has traveled quite a bit herself. They sat down, and their conversation naturally turned to places they had both been, such as Greece and other parts of Europe. They discovered they shared aspirations of going to Japan and Africa.

Jeremy and Ivana chat before dinner. (Daniele Seiss/For The Washington Post)

Next topic: pet peeves. For both of them, being on time and respecting other people’s time was important, although, Jeremy noticed, Ivana was even more of a stickler about her schedule than he is. “She’s a planner. Everything is driven by her calendar,” he told me.

Over salmon salad for her and shared artichoke dip, they moved on to work, crazy past dates and even family and marriage. Jeremy asked point-blank, “Do you want to get married and have kids?” Ivana is very close to her family and she loves children, so she said she’d be open to it. He was impressed that even though she’s not a mom, Ivana was able to participate in a discussion on books Jeremy’s daughter is reading. “She’s very motherly,” he told me. “She tutors her 15-year-old goddaughter and spends a lot of time with kids.”

Amazingly, his query about marriage and kids was not his most direct question. “He asked me bluntly if I thought I was intimidating to people,” Ivana said. She laughed and replied, “People say, ‘Sometimes you’re a lot.’ ”

She said Jeremy then shared that he’s “a little bit of an introvert,” but thus far, she wasn’t too much for him — in fact, he wanted more. He said later he had already begun wondering when he might be able to fit into her busy schedule again.

When their meals arrived Ivana, a pescatarian, was pleased to see that Jeremy had ordered the meatless “fire-and-smoke” pizza. And he was happy to let her try a piece, but it had way too much fire in it for her taste.

As the evening drew to a close, Jeremy realized that Ivana had taken an Uber car there, and they were both headed back to Virginia. “If you don’t mind, I’ll drive you home,” Jeremy declared. The conversation continued on the drive back to her car, which was still parked in front of her mother’s house. Maybe that’s why there was no end-of-date kiss?

They exchanged numbers, though, and then “he came around and opened the door for me to get out. ... Not many men do that anymore,” Ivana shared. The two texted the next day, then the following day they talked on the phone and then texted some more.

“Her schedule is packed over the weekend, but I definitely want to see her again,” Jeremy told me. As for Ivana, the experience has given her a new faith in humanity: “This is why people tell you to still be hopeful. Chivalry is not dead.”

Rate the date

Jeremy: 5 [out of 5]. “It felt natural and comfortable, never forced.”

Ivana: 4.5. “A beautiful surprise; someone who’s a gentleman.”


They had a successful second date and still talk regularly.

Damona Hoffman is a certified dating coach and the host of the “Dates & Mates” podcast.

Are you a lumberjack? Or do you just look like one? Because at Date Lab, the requests for lumberjacks or ‘lumberjack types’ are piling up like so much kindling. All you need to do is put that axe down for a sec and apply here.