The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Date Lab: He invited her up — before her long drive home

Adam is 27 and a director of development at a nonprofit. He is seeking a “bubbly and warm woman with a big personality.” Emma is 26 and an outreach coordinator at a nonprofit. She is looking for someone who is “funny,” “intelligent, kind and adventurous.” (Daniele Seiss)

While some fear the unknown, one of our daters this week relishes it. This gave Adam, a 27-year-old director of development at a nonprofit, the perfect disposition for being set up on a totally blind date. He explained his Date Lab outlook this way: “I thought, ‘Okay, this will be a great story and it’ll be an opportunity to meet somebody new, which I really like. Who knows what’ll happen?’ ” The world — at least for a few hours at a designated location — was his oyster.

His date, Emma, a 26-year-old outreach coordinator at a nonprofit, said she applied for Date Lab after reading the column once because she was “just interested in the experience.” As for her dating life, she goes back-and-forth on apps, deleting them and re-downloading them. Though her enthusiasm for dating is a notch or two below Adam’s, she is still “pretty much open to whatever.”

They were both nervous walking up to Établi in Bloomingdale. “I’m like, ‘What if this person just thinks I’m terrible or rude?’ It was a lot of irrational thinking.” Emma could sense his nerves, but hers dissipated upon shaking his hand. She immediately felt comfortable with him, as he projected friendliness. She also thought he was cute.

“I was very attracted to her attitude and personality,” said Adam. Minutes into their conversation, he found himself relaxing as they discovered they have a few things in common: They both work for nonprofits and served in AmeriCorps. When it came time to order, they discovered another commonality: Neither one is a drinker. Mocktails it was.

Because alcohol wasn’t sapping their $150 allotment they ordered a legit spread: burrata, hummus, the patata pesto pizza and an artichoke pasta dish. Adam described their vibe as “jovial and fun.” Emma said their three hours together contained not a lick of awkwardness. They discussed Emma’s love of hiking and her recent time at the Bonnaroo music festival. Adam, meanwhile, described being a spectator at golf tournaments. “I was like, ‘Aren’t golf courses huge?’ ” said Emma. “He was like, ‘Yeah, you just walk behind [the golfers].’ It blew my mind.”

She shared some dating horror stories, including one in which a guy attempted to touch her throughout a movie, only to be rebuffed every time. “The credits rolled and he leaped, literally jumped out of the chair, and sprinted out the back of the theater,” she recalled. That’s “only the tip of the iceberg,” said Emma, who has developed her dating chronicles into a podcast called “Waste My Time.” And wouldn’t you know? Adam has a mental health podcast titled “We Will Break the Stigma.”

Emma was facing an hour-long ride back to Baltimore, so she wrapped things up earlier than she was inclined to. As she plotted her exit, Adam joked that if he asked her for a ride home she’d put him on blast in the write-up. Emma responded: “Do you want a ride home?” He did, indeed. After all, he lives about a mile away from the restaurant. “I had loafers on. I didn’t want to walk home or Uber,” explained Adam.

Outside Adam’s place, he invited Emma upstairs. “I could not get the vibes,” she said. “Part of me was like, ‘Oh he just wants me to see the place,’ ” as they’d been discussing their apartments earlier. “But then another part of me was like, ‘Is he trying to put on moves?’ ” She continued, “I wasn’t entirely sure, but at that point in the night it wasn’t a question for me. I needed to get home.”

Adam said he invited her up in case she wanted coffee, water or to use his bathroom before her long drive back. He said he was not trying to put a move on. “If anything, it would have been polite and a way to continue a nice evening,” he explained. He asked for her number and they parted with a car hug.

When asked if he was leaning more toward keeping things friendly with Emma or pursuing romance, Adam said with security: “I don’t know!” He elaborated by denouncing the dating world’s imperative to decide right away. “I’m not in the business of being like no and yes immediately,” he said. At the time of his interview, he was open to hanging out again.

So was Emma, who called Adam “one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.” Still, she was daunted by how far they live from each other. “I don’t think it was a strong enough connection to be like, ‘Okay, yes, this is it,’ ” she said. A few days after the date, she had already re-downloaded Hinge.

Rate the date

Adam: 4.5 [out of 5].

Emma: 5.


They have communicated, but haven’t gotten together again.

Rich Juzwiak is a writer in New York.

Editor’s note: Because of privacy and safety concerns, Date Lab allows participants to be identified only by their first names.

Apply now to Date Lab

To our commenters

A reminder from the Date Lab team: Our daters volunteer to participate in the column. While we appreciate a lively discussion assessing our matchmaking skills, please follow our community rules and do not comment on someone’s appearance or write a personal attack.