The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Date Lab: He’s a gentleman — and a rugby player

Jack is 28 and a lawyer. He is seeking someone who is “kindhearted, athletic, curious,” plus has interests she is passionate about. Chelsea is 29 and an event planner. Her dream date is with a “Scottish rugby player who travels often and owns a charity dedicated to rescuing dogs.” (Daniele Seiss)

Chelsea, 29, briefly dated a man who said he had a good experience participating in Date Lab. When they broke things off a few months ago, she decided to apply. She was looking forward to an “old-fashioned blind date,” noting that she’s not a fan of dating apps because it’s easy to miss out on a good match based on surface-level traits. She’s interested in a long-term relationship but didn’t put any expectations on the public setup. “I wasn’t super nervous going into it.”

While she usually straightens her hair for first dates, her friends encouraged her to wear it curly. The event planner showered in the morning, giving her curls time to set. After work, she went home and dressed in her go-to date night outfit that she “feels good in,” which includes a turtleneck tank. She listened to Lizzo on her drive over to Sovereign in Georgetown.

She arrived about 10 minutes before her match, Jack, a 28-year-old lawyer. Like Chelsea, he is interested in a serious relationship but didn’t “put a lot of emotional weight” on the evening. He came straight from a busy day at the office, dressed in a pink J. Crew button-down. He listened to hip-hop while riding a rented scooter over, then got nervous as he entered the restaurant. Thankfully, he arrived just on time.

Apply now to Date Lab

After taking photos, they sat and got vodka blueberry cocktails while deciding on food. They split a flatbread, and then she ordered a short rib entree while he got a pork sandwich. They each had two more drinks, switching to beer.

Chelsea broke the ice by asking Jack, “Why do you think The Post decided to match us?” This is when Jack told her that he played rugby in college. “That must be it,” she said, noting that she had a “thing” for rugby players. The attraction was mutual. “She had done her hair in very pretty curls,” Jack commented. “I thought she was quite pretty and there was not much of a nervousness about her, and that’s always attractive.” Physically, Jack “checked a lot of boxes” for her as well, she said.

The conversation quickly delved into their interests and the culture shift involved in moving to D.C. from their respective hometowns — Jack grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Chelsea is from Grand Rapids, Mich. “We talked about family, and he’s close with his family and I am too,” Chelsea said.

To meet more people in D.C., Chelsea joined a volleyball league, while Jack plays kickball. Jack, who had a group of friends in D.C. from college, admired Chelsea’s outgoing nature and her willingness to join new activities to meet people. “It’s scary to go out and try to make friends when you move,” he said. “She’s definitely outgoing.”

Chelsea liked Jack’s sense of humor. When she mentioned that she and her friends send each other Christmas cards, she was surprised to learn that Jack and his friends have a similar hobby. “We started this 12 years ago and made them in Kinkos,” Jack said. Now they make elaborate e-cards. One of the friends “is in video production and so we go into a studio,” he said. He shared with her a few of the cards, including one with him and his friends wearing matching Christmas sweaters, striking an “awkward JCPenney family portrait” pose, according to Chelsea. She found it to be “so funny, and it really showed his personality.”

They talked for more than three hours, ending the date after 9 p.m. When the bill came, they had gone over The Post’s allotted amount, and both offered to pay. But Jack insisted, and covered the entire difference. He then noticed that the receipt included a 15 percent tip. “I normally tip 20 percent,” he told me. He did the math to make sure the wait staff received 20 percent. “He’s polite and definitely a gentleman,” Chelsea said.

They walked out and hugged goodbye near the entrance, where Jack rented a scooter to get back home. As they stood there, Jack asked Chelsea for her number, but she told him to put his number in her phone. Then she texted him. They continued texting that night. “We were talking about fall in general, and both have Target printed matching flannel pajamas. He sent me a picture of it after the date,” she said with a laugh. “I really liked him.”

Describing the evening as “a good date and a good conversation,” Chelsea “would definitely go out with him again.” Jack, too, looked forward to a second date: “Our schedules haven’t quite lined up, but I think we’ll go out again.”

Rate the date

Chelsea: 4.5 [out of 5].

Jack: 5.


They remain in touch and are coordinating plans for a second date.

Prachi Gupta 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.