“What do you do?”
“I’m a lawyer. What about you?”
“I work on the Hill.”
That’s typically how it goes, right? You can insert variations; I might say “nonprofit,” or “children’s health nonprofit” because that’s 10 times sexier. But no matter how you handle the most frequently asked question of the D.C. dating scene, it’s bound to come up early on. I first got it in June 2011, when I went on my first date after nine years in a serious relationship. It was a one-and-done meetup at Dickson Wine Bar in Washington, D.C. — a pleasant evening that ended with a quick make-out session in front of her apartment. Four years later, I don’t remember her name. In fact, I don’t remember much about that night. But I am certain of one thing: We talked about what we did for a living. In the fourth episode of “Dated,” I tackle DC’s obsession with talking about work on first dates.
At the time, I didn’t particularly like my job. I was in marketing and PR and I felt that talking about that didn’t give what’s-her-name any idea of who I really was. So I used the question as a chance to talk about my passion for making silly videos.
Four years later, that question never fails to weave itself into a first date. I don’t ask it to judge someone’s wealth or education, or jump to irrational conclusions about what it means she’ll be like as a mother or life partner. I ask it because I want to know what she’s passionate about. And if it’s not work, that’s okay. The question should be a launchpad for talking about hobbies outside of work. Because as frustratingly familiar as the question might be, the path it might lead to is never predictable.
When you get asked “What do you do?” on a first date, well, what do you do? Do you love or hate the question? Do you answer, evade or have fun with it? Tag your answers with #soloish on Twitter or Facebook.
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