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Date Lab: These 22-year-olds were both looking for something serious

Though Josh worried that his blind date might be “a dud,” he came with a good old analog rose to offer her, which she found “adorable.” He was relieved on sight. “She was really beautiful,” he said. Allie reported that Josh was cute and dressed appropriately for the occasion.

They sat down, ordered a charcuterie board, sparkling wine cocktails and entrees, and settled in. “It was really comfortable,” said Josh. “We never had problems keeping conversation going, which was really nice.” That may have had something to do with Allie’s tendencies to be a “conversation filler,” though she pointed out that Josh asked plenty of questions, too. “I probably talked more, but I don’t feel like I had to do more work,” she said. For Allie, it was easy to be comfortable around Josh “and not feeling weirdly pressured or nervous about anything.”

Though they are engineers, their jobs are quite different: Allie is in radiation engineering, and Josh works for a construction company. Josh said that careers in the same field opened some conversational doors, while Allie said they connected more about hobbies. They’re both outdoorsy and enjoy hiking — she was wowed that he hiked the German countryside while studying abroad. “I want to do that so badly,” she said. “I’ve only hiked in America.” They talked about playing sports in school and current local restaurants. They also discovered they are each familiar with the other’s hometown through a sort of swapping of places: Allie grew up in Silver Spring, where Josh (temporarily) lives now, and she regularly drives through where he grew up, West Falls Church, Va.

The vibe was light and humorous. “It didn’t feel like either of us were really flirting,” recalled Josh. “It was more about putting feelers out there and seeing how they were accepted by the other person. We never brought up exactly what either of us are looking for, so it wasn’t necessarily, ‘Let’s date/let’s not date.’ ”

But shortly after their time together, that’s exactly what it became. Allie asked for Josh’s number before they wrapped up at the restaurant. “Right as I was thinking about asking for her phone number,” Josh explained. Such synergy! Then Josh walked her home. “It was more intimate than sitting across the table talking to each other,” he said of their post-meal traipse. However, they bid goodbye with a mere hug. “We didn’t kiss, but the hug was a nice hug,” he said. Once apart, they got to texting. For someone who’s not a big texter, Allie’s thumbs sure were busy.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know. I definitely want to get to know you more as friends. I want to hang out with you more, but I don’t know if I want to pursue something romantic immediately,’” she told me. “He said he felt the same way and that we’re on the same page.” She added, “He said the line, ‘You don’t buy the first dress you try on.’ I was like, ‘That is perfect.’”

“We’re not positive about each other because there’s a lot we don’t know,” agreed Josh a few days after their date. By then, Allie was liking what she’s seeing textually. “He’s a great communicator over text,” she said. “It makes me want to see him more, but I don’t know if anything has changed on the romantic side of it.”

Don’t mistake their readiness to settle down for desperation. But also, don’t mistake their lack of desperation for aloofness either. They met on a Wednesday and already had plans to hang out again on Sunday, getting food and watching some football. Allie set their future’s try-and-see tone with a home-nurtured straightforwardness. “My mom’s a divorce lawyer, so maybe it comes down to learning how to be communicative so that bad things don’t happen in relationships. It comes through a lot of learned experience,” she said.

They went out on a second date, but decided to be just friends.

Rich Juzwiak is a writer in New York.

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.

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