Her 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 experience”. As for her love life, she goes back and forth on apps, deletes them and re-downloads them. Although her enthusiasm for dating is a notch or two below Adam’s, she’s still “pretty open to anything.”
They were both nervous walking to Established in Bloomingdale’s. “I’m like, ‘What if this person just thinks I’m horrible or rude?’ It was a lot of irrational thoughts. Emma could sense his nervousness, but hers dissipated as she shook his hand. She immediately felt comfortable with him, as he projected friendship. She also thought that he was cute.
“I was very drawn to his attitude and his personality,” Adam said. Minutes into their conversation, he found himself relaxing to discover that they had a few things in common: They both work for nonprofits and served in AmeriCorps. Upon ordering, they discovered another commonality: neither is a drinker. They were mocktails.
Because booze didn’t sap their $150 allowance, they ordered a legit spread: burrata, hummus, the patata pesto pizza, and an artichoke pasta dish. Adam described their vibe as “cheerful and fun”. Emma said their three hours together didn’t contain an ounce of awkwardness. They discussed Emma’s love of hiking and her recent appearance 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 walk right behind [the golfers].’ It blew me away.
She shared dating horror stories, including one in which a guy tried to touch her throughout a movie, only to be rebuffed each time. “The credits rolled and he jumped up, literally jumped off the chair and ran to the back of the theater,” she recalled. That’s “just the tip of the iceberg,” said Emma, who expanded on her dating chronicles in a podcast called “Waste My Time.” And wouldn’t you know it? Adam has a mental health podcast called “We Will Break the Stigma.”
Emma was facing an hour-long commute back to Baltimore, so she wrapped things up earlier than she wanted. As she prepared to go out, Adam joked that if he asked her to walk her home, she would blast him in the article. Emma replied, “Do you want us to take you home?” He did, indeed. After all, he lives about a mile from the restaurant. “I had loafers on. I didn’t want to walk home or Uber,” Adam explained.
Outside Adam’s house, he invited Emma upstairs. “I couldn’t feel the vibes,” she said. “Part of me was like, ‘Oh, he just wants me to see the place,'” as they discussed their apartments earlier. “But then another part of me was like, ‘Is he trying to make moves?’ She continued, “I wasn’t entirely sure, but at that time of the night, it wasn’t an issue for me. I needed to come home.”
Adam said he invited her over in case she wanted coffee, water or to use her bathroom before her long drive home. He said he wasn’t trying to move. “If anything, that would have been polite and a way to continue a great evening,” he explained. He asked for her number and they parted ways with a car hug.
When asked if he was more inclined to keep things friendly with Emma or to pursue a romantic relationship, Adam replied confidently, “I don’t know!” He elaborated by denouncing the imperative of the dating world 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 ready to hang out again.
So did Emma, who called Adam “one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.” Yet she was intimidated by the distance between them. “I don’t think it was a strong enough connection to be like, ‘Okay, yeah, that’s it,'” she said. A few days after the date, she had already downloaded Hinge again.
They communicated, but did not find each other.
Rich Juzwiak is a writer in New York.
Editor’s Note: Due to privacy and security issuesDate Lab allows participants to be identified by their first names only.
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