During the pandemic, Dana Kravitz, 26, “got really invested” in reading Date Lab with her family. She even occasionally read the column aloud as a sort of dramatic performance. “We were joking about me applying,” she recalled. One night in 2020, after a few glasses of wine, she went for it.
When we first reached out, Dana was at the beach “with 40 family members,” she said, who immediately became invested and requested updates. But the date was postponed, and then it was canceled. Dana was set up again, and her second match backed out too. By the time she was matched a third time, Dana decided to keep it a secret from everyone except close family and friends. She wasn’t expecting to meet her person, but she was hopeful. “It’s hard to meet somebody, and this would be a cool story.” Ultimately, she’s looking for a relationship with someone who can make her laugh.
To relieve some pre-date anxiety, she picked an outfit the night before the date with her best friend and her best friend’s boyfriend. She settled on a cream crop sweater with black polka dots, a leather skirt, black stockings and heeled combat boots. The day of the date her mom called, and her brothers cracked jokes about the column, which helped calm her nerves. When she arrived at Seven Reasons on 14th Street NW, her date, Geoff Dubrow, 30, was already seated. “I thought he had an approachable look about him and kind eyes,” Dana told me.
Geoff, a food chemist, had a “surprisingly hectic” day at work. For the evening, he put on a patterned button-down, brown slacks and boots. To ease his jitters, he called his sister on the 30-minute walk to the restaurant. He’s interested in a relationship with someone who keeps him “challenged.” “I tend to have a lot of hobbies,” he said, which includes rock climbing and cycling, and is looking for someone who is similarly “interested in exploring, trying out new experiences.”
“I thought she was attractive,” Geoff said of his first impression of Dana. “We were able to settle into a conversation pretty quickly.” Their exchange was propelled by a random, disarming connection: Geoff had once bought a plant from a rare-plant seller who lived in Dana’s building. They were talking so much that the waiter had to come by twice before they decided to order cocktails. For food, they shared scallops, tartare and a seafood rice dish. After appetizers, the waiter came by with a round of mezcal shots — compliments of Dana’s family — which was a fun surprise.
The discussion branched off naturally; they both enjoy cooking, which segued into Geoff sharing some of his experiences studying strawberries and grapes. He was interested in hearing about how Dana decided to become a social worker. “The conversation was good in the sense that it took awhile to get to ‘what do you do for a living’ and ‘where are you from’ … Those things had to be asked, but it’s nice when you’re already in conversation,” Dana said. Geoff agreed: “Everything felt really natural.”
Yet, despite the easy rapport, neither felt a romantic connection. “We had plenty to talk about, but I like to be silly and goofy and laugh a lot,” Dana said. She got the impression that Geoff is “more of a serious person” than she is. “I don’t think I laughed once on the date, so for me, that’s an immediate no.”
For Geoff, the disconnect was over general lifestyle. “She said she wasn’t really a hobby person,” he said, “which was a little bit of a turnoff.” The California native wants a partner who, like him, prioritizes trying new activities. “I think it’s really cool to be surprised by doing something you haven’t done, or go out and learn something.”
“I think I said I haven’t really had time for my hobbies,” Dana clarified. Dana, who has lived in the D.C. area her entire life, said she spends more of her time with friends and family and appreciates decompressing after work. I like to “do nothing on a Sunday, and I think he has a lot of hobbies,” she explained. “It didn’t seem like we had much in common.”
After about three hours, they both decided to call it a night. The restaurant bill was slightly over budget, and Dana offered to split the difference. Geoff obliged, which Dana interpreted as disinterest. “I had no problem doing that, but I do think that’s a way for a man to show you that he likes you,” she said. “I had really mixed emotions after the date in general,” she continued. “I think I was prepared not to like the person. I don’t know that I was prepared for them to not like me.”
After the bill was settled, Dana called an Uber and Geoff hugged her goodbye. They didn’t exchange numbers, but “it wasn’t awkward,” said Geoff. “I didn’t really have any romantic vibes, but I had a good time and it was enjoyable.”
Rate the date
Dana: 3.5 [out of 5].
No further contact.
Prachi Gupta is a writer in New York.
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