Arriving half an hour early to Tredici Enoteca south of Dupont Circle gave marketing executive Lucia Cortes, 47, just enough time to go to Walgreens, buy makeup and go back to her car to apply it. Lucia wore an orange dress with tan trim, which felt "summery and super cute" to her but in her sister's opinion was not sexy enough. Makeup done, Lucia took a seat at the bar. As she began to question her choice of tan boots, a "serious yet good-looking guy" wandering around the restaurant caught her eye.

It was her date, Andy Hight, 53, a sales rep for a software company. Andy said later he thought Lucia was very attractive. Lucia said their initial interaction felt tense and awkward — but it helped that they were wearing nearly the same color and style of ankle boots. Their similar fashion sense gave them both a chuckle and eased the tension.

They relaxed a little more courtesy of some drinks: rosé for Lucia and chardonnay for Andy. Once they were seated, they put in an order for small plates: Moroccan spiced ribs, roasted cauliflower, flatbread, beet salad and more. “I like small plates,” Andy said later, “and I’m nervous about people who don’t like to share.” That was not a problem for Lucia. She mentioned that she’s from a large family with six kids, which prompted Andy to reveal that he comes from a family of five children. Andy’s table manners also earned him bonus points: “He was a gentleman, serving me first and then serving himself,” Lucia recalled.

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Andy told Lucia that he had recently relocated to D.C. after four years in Australia, 20-plus years in San Francisco, and many years of traveling for work. Lucia, who was born in Peru, also loves to travel. Andy was enthralled by Lucia’s stories of her recent trip to Spain. She was fascinated by his stories about the safari he just took in South Africa. Then there was Paris: Andy’s favorite city was also high on Lucia’s list of places to visit.

Lucia ordered another rosé, Andy switched to red wine, and the connections continued. They both enjoy hiking. Andy works out regularly at the gym with a trainer and said it was important to him that the women he dates are fit. He was glad to hear that Lucia runs.

“What do you like to read?” he asked. Andy likes novels, while Lucia seeks out books by female authors, particularly historical novels, in Spanish. Lucia told me, “He was sympathetic that I prefer to read in Spanish.” Andy told her that he’d be surprised if she were reading in English. “You can absorb the story better in your native tongue,” he added.

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Around that point, Lucia began to wonder if he could understand her English. “He seemed to be having a difficult time and putting in a lot of effort to understand my accent,” she told me. When I asked Andy about this, he said, on the contrary, “I could understand her well. I work a lot internationally, and I have a good ear for accents.”

For his part, he wondered why the date didn’t seem very flirtatious despite the fact that they were very comfortable with each other. “One thing I’m terrible at is knowing if someone is attracted to me or not,” he said later.

Lucia said, “I probably wasn’t that flirtatious with him, but I enjoyed his company very much.”

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At some point, they noticed most of the tables in the restaurant were empty. Lucia said she suggested they go to the bar, but he didn’t respond. Andy explained later he didn’t bypass her invitation because of lack of interest. “I knew she was driving home and figured that ... having more alcohol would not be the right call.”

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They went outside and Andy walked her to her car. Lucia then offered him a ride home. She was headed to her sister’s place, close to where Andy lives. He declined, which was fine with Lucia. She later said: “It’s a cultural thing. You offer someone a ride, but it probably would have been too much.” Andy, however, did ask for her phone number and promised to contact her the next day. Then they went their separate ways.

Lucia found Andy to be more reserved than men she usually dates, but that only stoked her interest: “I get the impression that he’s more fun than what he showed.” Andy, who has hired a matchmaker and used dating apps since returning to the States, told me it was “one of the better dates I’ve had in the last couple of months.” For these two, it wasn’t about instant chemistry and butterflies. Good conversation and meaningful commonalities were enough to keep the curiosity going. The next morning, Andy texted: “Hello beautiful Lucia — I had a good time with you last night, why don’t we get together Monday?”

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Rate the date

Andy: 4.5 [out of 5].

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Lucia: 4.25.

Update

They went on a second date but have had no contact since then.

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

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