The Girl's Guide to DC
Issue 38: The Ultimate Dating Flow Chart
Welcome back! If you missed last week’s issue, find it here. I hope you enjoy my hot takes on dating as well as my interview with the lovely Elle Reynolds!
I also want to say a special thank you to The Slip for featuring me in Friday’s newsletter — read it here and be sure to subscribe!
What They Don’t Tell You
If you clicked because the title of this week’s newsletter is “The Ultimate Dating Flow Chart” — SIKE! I really wish dating was as easy as a few simple steps, but here’s my advice for simplifying the first date, at least.
Have you ever walked away after a first date thinking that the other person was nice, but you didn’t end up learning much about them? First dates don’t need to be trauma dumps or interrogations, but there are plenty of people in your life who are nice to chat with about work, TV shows, and the weather. Those aren’t the skills that actually distinguish a good partner. You won’t know if your date is a good match until you dig a little deeper – so I hope these recommendations from myself and a few Girl’s Guide readers are helpful.
Good first date questions aren’t necessarily supposed to be “gotchas” that tell you whether a guy’s a keeper or a loser. You should be ready (and glad) for any questions to be turned back on you. The back-and-forth of sharing memories and details about our lives is what builds intimacy, after all. There are even scientific studies about how merely asking and answering personal questions can build intimacy between strangers (h/t reader Emma Waters for sending me this NYT story about the 36 questions that can lead to love).
I was conducting research (okay, you got me, that’s what I call watching the new season of Love Is Blind) when I realized that the show is basically implementing the “36 Questions to Fall in Love” method in real life. I was appalled that some of the participants in Season 2 went into their blind dates with absolutely no idea what questions they would ask or be asked. Some participants ended up asking awkward questions like “What size clothing are you?” and “Are you nervous?” and received just-as-awkward replies. Even the question “Have you ever been in love?” comes across as too prying when posited to someone you’ve just met.
But there’s a middle ground between staying in the shallows and diving to the bottom, and that’s where I recommend you ladies take the conversation on first dates. Some of the questions that I noticed helped the couples bond include:
What do you like to do for fun?
How many siblings do you have?
What’s a Sunday Funday to you?
Even these questions are pretty surface-level, but they can lead to much deeper discussions. I was thrilled when so many of you responded to my tweet or otherwise wrote in to share what question you think every woman should ask on the first date. Here are a few of your answers!
Being Intentional When You’re Long Distance
Reader Emma Waters wrote in with a list of questions that helped her and her now-husband deepen their relationship since they started out doing long-distance.
What books or thinkers have shaped your thinking/who you are the most?
Who is your greatest role model (one historical, one contemporary)?
Who in your family are you closest to?
Which of your friends understands you the best?
What is your ideal job?
Why do you work?
What book or articles are you currently reading?
If you were to host a podcast, what would it be about and who would you have on as a guest?
Where do you attend church on Sunday? (This allows you to ask about their faith, gauge where they are at spiritually, and sets the tone that faith is a top priority for you.)
Make Sure They’re Not a Robot
Reader Krista Mitchell recommends the following questions: “What do you like to do for fun outside of work? Do you have a couple hobbies or activities that you're passionate about? This will show you what his priorities are outside of the traditional DC-workaholic culture. In other words, does he realize there's more to life than just a career (albeit that is important, of course), and does he value other things than a drive for success? It may also inspire some fun topics of conversation.”
Read my 2021 interview with Krista here.
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
Reader Mary Rose Corkery writes, “Some of the best questions to ask a guy on the first date is what was it like growing up with their family! Family life plays a large part of a guy’s maturity and social skills. Not only can you understand a guy’s psychology and his outlook on the world but you can get some real spicy, funny stories. Any guy who loves people and his family would be thrilled if you asked about them!”
Read my 2021 interview with Mary Rose here.
More of your first date conversation starters via Twitter:
Evie Solheim @eviefordhamLADIES - What question do you think every woman should ask on the first date?
Interview with Elle Reynolds
Without further ado, here is my interview with Elle Reynolds, who I first met when we were both attending Patrick Henry College! Find Elle on Twitter.
What do you love about your neighborhood?
I'm in Loudoun County, Va., where I went to school — and I love being close enough to drive into the city while still having plenty of open space and small-town convenience.
What does your life look like right now?
I graduated with a government degree and a journalism minor in May, and I've been happily employed since as an assistant editor at The Federalist! I love the fact that there's always something new in the news cycle so I never know exactly what I'll be reading or writing about on a given week or day — I'm never bored!
What's your favorite coffee shop or restaurant in the DC area?
Swing's Coffee by the White House was a favorite when I interned there, and I also love the aesthetic (and gelato) at Dolcezza. The Old Ebbitt Grill is my favorite restaurant, hands down — but I also love anything on the Wharf!
What are your tips for college students looking to get started in writing/media?
Just submit pieces to outlets and see where it takes you! It's a great way to build your portfolio as well as get your name-recognition foot in the door at publications. Also, actually read the news often and have an answer for the question "What news outlets do you frequent?"
What’s your beauty routine like?
I've recently migrated to Burt's Bees because I'm a makeup cheapskate but still want something decently good for my skin. I tend to wear a full face of makeup more often than not but I love their BB cream and a flick of mascara for those days that I don't want to look like I'm wearing it.
How would you describe your style?
I went into college determined to dress like a '90s Ralph Lauren magazine every day. I've thankfully toned that down since, but I still like to think my professional style has a hint of that Ivy League prep, plus a hefty helping of my Florida roots — I love warm autumn solids and tailored silhouettes, but I probably own more light blue/white stripes than any other palette in my closet. Grace Kelly has been my style icon since high school; I aspire to that combination of glamour and understated class!
Hollywood-DC Power Couple Is No More
Sen. Cory Booker and actress Rosario Dawson have split up after three years together but reportedly remain “good friends.” Things were getting pretty serious for a while, it seems — Dawson had even moved in with Booker in New Jersey, according to Vanity Fair. But the pair is no more, leaving the spot open for the next Hollywood-DC power couple.
‘Bridgerton’ Meets ‘The Bachelorette’
If you’re a girl who can appreciate a Jane Austen novel as much as an episode of The Bachelor, then I have news for you: NBC has a new show called The Courtship, where 16 suitors compete for the hand of one woman, Nicole Remy. There are balls, gowns, and intrigue galore, The New York Post reports. Here’s hoping Nicole finds her Mr. Darcy!
Here are a few more links to what I’m reading this week:
Would Netflix’s ‘Love Is Blind’ work in real life? Here’s what a dating expert and psychologist say: If you’re enjoying the new season of Love Is Blind as much as I am, check out this story about the psychology behind the show.
A beginner's guide to visiting a Korean spa: Nick took me to a Korean spa as an early Valentine’s Day present — and let me tell you, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. We enjoyed steam saunas, jet pools, bibimbap, and other amenities at Spa World in Centreville.
KAYLA PANCHAK celebrates her birthday on Feb. 19 — read my recent interview with her here!
Are you a foreign policy nerd? Consider applying to AMERICAN MOMENT’s 10-week certification course, designed to be a tool for interns and junior staff in Washington, D.C. to credential themselves as they seek to move into substantive policy roles. Learn more here.
Join MARY ELLEN O’LEARY at the brand-new Wasinger and Co office in Fairfax Station for a First Time Homebuyers Social at 6:30 pm on March 9! Enjoy champagne and charcuterie while getting advice from Mary Ellen and her broker Meghan Wasinger who has been in the business for over 25 years. Whether you're ready to buy or thinking about buying in the next few years, this social is for you. You are never too young to think about investing in real estate.
Have a question you want me to answer in the newsletter? Click this link to send your question anonymously!
I can’t promise to have all the answers, but I will consult with the experts, a.k.a. the plotlines of my favorite 2000s romcoms.