As a self-described “more mature person,” Amanda, 45, doesn’t feel like she needs somebody. “I’m not looking for somebody to complete me.” Still, she wants a companion to share her life with. She separated from her husband in the fall of 2020; her divorce was finalized this spring. “I’m relearning what the new dating rules are, and … who I am in my 40s versus when I was in my 20s.”
This summer, after a “sort of failed romance,” she decided to apply for Date Lab, which she has read on and off for years. “As an introvert in the pandemic, I’m finding it really hard to meet new people,” said Amanda, adding that the idea of being matched by the magazine was “actually kind of appealing.”
A tech writer, she is interested in someone who is “generous and genuine and funny. [That] is more important than a six-pack.” As for her type: “I want the geek.” She dresses up to go to Renaissance fairs and watches Marvel movies and would like a partner who shares her interests.
We matched her with Keith, a 52-year-old investment adviser, whose neighbor sent him a link to the Date Lab application and encouraged him to apply. Keith, who is divorced and lives in the Baltimore suburbs, hadn’t even been aware of the column, but he figured, What’s there to lose?
When it comes to dating, he is somewhere between wanting “to have fun and getting into a relationship.” He would like a travel companion. “Most of my friends are married, and I’m tired of being the third wheel.” He’s seeking “someone outgoing, witty, funny, attractive, petite” and “career-minded” who “can keep up with my humor and banter back-and-forth.”
On the day of the date, Keith “wasn’t nervous at all” because he had no expectations. He didn’t do any date-specific prep (“I’m pretty well-kept!”). He wore a golf shirt and a vest and arrived at the Manor Hill Tavern in Ellicott City, Md., five minutes before the start time of 6 p.m.
Amanda was already there; she’d arrived 10 minutes earlier. She was “a little trepidatious but also a little excited” to be matched. The experience reminded her of skydiving in her early 20s: “I had the same [feeling]: This could be cool, this could be terrifying.” She’d texted a friend for an outfit consult and picked out “jeans, a top I really like, some low-heeled boots” and a fleece to protect her from the autumn chill. She drove to the date from Wheaton and was happy Keith arrived on time.
“I was pleased,” she said. “He’s a good-looking guy [with] beautiful blue eyes, nice haircut, casually but smartly dressed. It was a good first impression.” Keith didn’t feel that same instant attraction. His attempts at breaking the ice with a few jokes, he said, didn’t thaw things. “She was reserved.”
They sat down to dinner. Keith found Amanda to be a “smart … sweet, kind woman.” But it didn’t take long for him to ask her, “You’re totally an introvert, aren’t you?” He says that she responded yes, and that he said, “I think by now you can tell I’m clearly an extrovert.” He also didn’t share what he called Amanda’s “nerdy” interests. “I’m social and like to go to sporting events with friends, and she said she’s uncomfortable in social situations,” he said. His assessment of the match: “We’re complete opposites.”
“I’m not an antisocial introvert,” Amanda clarified. “I really enjoyed getting to know somebody one-on-one. That’s the kind of interaction I like.” She welcomed their discussion about food and travel — they’d visited some of the same places: Maine, Boston, Dollywood. But she felt the energy “was more friendly than flirty” and sensed they weren’t compatible. “I think he is a bit more of a spontaneous person than I am,” she said. The geographic distance between them, too, wasn’t a great sign for her.
Keith’s recollection is that “I asked most of the questions. … It was mostly her talking. An hour into the date, she didn’t even know what I did." Amanda figured they stayed at the restaurant until about 8:30. When dinner was over, Keith walked her to her car, which she appreciated. She told him she thought the distance between them “is going to be a problem,” and her sense was “we both kind of felt the same way.”
They amicably parted — great meeting you, a handshake — but did not exchange numbers. “I did not even ask for her last name,” said Keith. Amanda’s take: “We had a good night, let’s end it here, and we went our separate ways.”
Rate the date
Keith: 2.5 [out of 5].
No further contact.
Jessica M. Goldstein is a regular contributor to Post’s Style section.
Editor’s note: Because of privacy and safety concerns, Date Lab allows participants to be identified only by their first names.
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.