Before meeting, Daniel Gray and Lindsey Collier had individually set low bars for their Date Lab experience. He had determined that a good conversation free of awkward silences and urges to check the time would constitute a successful evening. For her, conversational reciprocity could be enough to make a date remarkable.
“I’m used to asking guys tons of questions, and it’s never like they ask a whole lot back,” said Lindsey, 33. Because of this, and general app fatigue, she describes dating as “really not fun anymore.” Daniel is more upbeat, explaining that he signed up for Date Lab to try something new in 2022 and as a way of getting involved in his local community. It’s definitely a way of getting your local community involved in you, albeit briefly.
A billionaire supposedly said that the secret to happiness is having low expectations — but are they also the secret to a good Date Lab? Kind of, in this case! Daniel said his expectations were exceeded, and Lindsey described the date as good. Daniel, it turns out, did ask her questions over dinner at Mazaro Italian Restaurant in Arlington. “It was just easy to talk to her right away,” said the 33-year-old consultant for the federal government.
They started at the bar, where he ordered a Negroni and she got a mocktail. “I thought she looked really put-together and she had beautiful eyes,” said Daniel. Lindsey described him as “nice-looking,” as well as “bubbly and warm.” “It seemed like genuinely we were going to be able to share a laugh about the experience,” she added.
After they took their table, they shared a calamari appetizer and then had their own beef Wellington entrees. They talked family, work and remote life. After undergrad, Daniel taught English in Japan for two years, so he could relate somewhat to Lindsey’s work as a second-grade teacher. “I think that was a point of connection,” he said.
“Where things split is different types of hobbies and interests,” explained Lindsey. “He does choir, and I like horseback riding and am a little more rugged and outdoorsy, although he does do hiking. He prefers cats and I have two dogs.” She said he was a bit more reserved than she was; he described himself as an “introvert” to her at one point. Lindsey is, by her estimation, gregarious and outgoing.
Despite what sounded like a classic cat-person-vs.-dog-person schism, they talked for almost three hours. Daniel said Lindsey seems like a “really kind person,” and recalled being surprised when he looked up and the restaurant had nearly cleared out and the staff was getting ready to pack up. “We were having a nice time, but not in a sense where I felt any kind of romance that might be sparking,” he explained.
The lack of attraction was mutual, though Lindsey said she remained open to slow-onset hots through most of their date. Her tipping point arrived with the check. She and Daniel had gone a little over the $150 allotted by The Post, and his order was slightly larger than hers (in addition to the aforementioned cocktail, he had a glass of wine and ordered dessert). Lindsey said that he suggested that he could pay for it, but then “happily” accepted her card to split the difference. It’s not that she expects a man to pay on the first date, “but there’s a hope.” To her, it is a sign that someone cares and one of the remaining vestiges of chivalry that she subscribes to.
Before they left the restaurant, Lindsey asked Daniel for his number. “I really respected that,” he said, though he’d been planning on doing the same thing. It wasn’t exactly a compliment from Lindsey. “It seemed like the conversation was waning and so I was like, let me just close it out this way,” she explained. Daniel had a different interpretation: “The way she asked seemed like she was interested and wanted to continue things.”
He walked her to her car and they hugged before they bid goodbye. Though not quite enchanted, Daniel told me he was interested in a second date, if only to apply author and behavioral-scientist-turned-dating-coach Logan Ury’s two-date rule. However, he anticipated its tone would be platonic.
They texted briefly after their date, but by the time Lindsey talked to The Post a few days later, she was planning to tell Daniel they wouldn’t be seeing each other again. “I will never ghost someone,” she said. “I will tell someone in the nicest way possible so that they’re not worrying what happened or anything like that.”
Perhaps it’s just as well. With Daniel’s low expectations exceeded, he could look back on his date for exactly what it was: a nice, if unremarkable, moment. “[It’s] a really special thing, just to be present with someone,” he said. “You might not see that person ever again, but you share that time together. I think that is worth trying to focus on.”
Rate the date
Daniel: 4.5 [out of 5].
Lindsey relayed she wasn’t interested in a second date. Daniel replied amicably.
Rich Juzwiak is a writer in New York.
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