Editor’s note: Because of privacy and safety concerns, Date Lab allows participants to be identified only by their first names.
That they were simultaneously taking advantage of both The Post’s and Meta’s services speaks to their romantic determination. Loun-Loun is 45 and has been divorced for five years; Steve is 52 and has been divorced for 19. Both describe themselves as hopeful, but finding love hasn’t been easy. “I’m sure that I get filtered out by men that would potentially be in my dating pool, say from age 40 to 50-something, who may prefer to date 30-year-olds,” said Loun-Loun. She’s a project manager at a consulting firm, and the client who recommended Date Lab also filled out the first draft of her application.
On dating in his 50s, Steve struck an earnest tone: “I don’t want to end up alone. It’s what happened to my dad and my mom, and I don’t want that.” He’s not even above what some might describe as “settling.” “Settling is a deal you make with yourself to not be alone, at least to me,” he explained.
Time is of the essence, in that they’re more than ready to find love. But in another more concrete sense, time was rendered irrelevant the night of their date: Steve was 45 minutes late meeting Loun-Loun at Centrolina in CityCenterDC. It had rained that evening, and “probably seven or eight” car accidents held up his drive down from Columbia, Md. Steve said he felt bad about this: “I’m very much a try-to-be-on-time person. I work in logistics.” The branch manager said that Loun-Loun handled his tardiness with grace. She appreciated that he had let Date Lab’s photographer know he was running late. It did not color the tone of the date.
In the flesh, Steve looked as Loun-Loun expected, and she was happy that he hadn’t lied about his height — 6-foot-1 — as many men do. Steve called Loun-Loun “a fine-looking lady,” but added that he tries not to be too “look-ist,” preferring to let attraction build as he gets to know someone.
Over appetizers — tuna sashimi for her and egg custard with mushrooms for him — and entrees (hers: duck breast, his: lamb chops) and drinks (he went with chardonnay and then cognac; she had a cocktail) it became clear that they were on the same page on multiple topics. They both agree that Steve is loquacious. Loun-Loun described him as “definitely a talker,” “a very enthusiastic talker” and “very much a talker.” Steve explained that he’s actually an introvert who taught himself extroversion. “I overcompensate when I meet people by being super energetic,” he said. Loun-Loun, meanwhile, tends to listen, though she was hardly a passive audience: “There were definitely times when I redirected the conversation.” At a certain point she noticed they were talking about work a lot and suggested discussing their interests and other aspects of their personalities.
On that note, they also agreed that Steve is quirky — that’s the adjective that best describes him, per his Date Lab application, and it’s an adjective that Loun-Loun used in her interview. She recounted Steve informing her that he had just bought his burial plot. “After having to take care of his mom he wanted to be prepared so in the future nobody would have to buy a burial plot for him. He’s being financially responsible and preparing for the future,” she said.
Finally, they saw eye to eye on perhaps the most important thing: They were not a good fit. “When you hit your 50s, you just want to talk about the good old days. And in that regard, she and I had a very, very different background and upbringing,” said Steve, who described his childhood self as “feral.” Loun-Loun described her childhood as “very sheltered” and her parents as “very strict.” They both grew up in the area, but their lives were worlds away.
“The gift of having someone who’s so open is that I learned a lot about him,” said Loun-Loun. “And the more I learned about his personality and own level of self-awareness, it just didn’t seem like it was going to be a good match.”
After about two hours, they parted ways with a hug but no exchange of numbers. Rounding out the night with yet more unfortunate timing, Loun-Loun got on the Metro going in the wrong direction and arrived home to Falls Church much later than expected — around 11:30. She did follow up with Steve on Facebook saying that she hoped he got home okay.
Rate the date
Loun-Loun: 3 [out of 5].
No further contact.
Rich Juzwiak is a writer in New York.
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