I met Rachel a while back at a media preview at a local restaurant. At this point, many moons later, I don’t even remember which one, but we became fast friends and I began my raging obsession with this wonderful woman. Rachel writes about restaurants for Washington Flyer, but as we got to know each other, our conversations would always go back to one thing: boys. We’d talk about her love life, she’d give me solid, calm advice on mine, and I quickly learned she was writing a book on her experience dating.
I even got a sneak peek at the manuscript, and so when she finally got a publish date for her book, The Science of Single: One Woman’s Grand Experiment in Modern Dating, Creating Chemistry, and Finding Love, I was thrilled. So now that the release date of her book is TOMORROW, I thought I’d finally share one of my favorite people with you all.
Katie: How long have you lived in DC? When and why did you move here?
Rachel: I moved to DC almost 8 years ago (though I grew up in Northern Virginia and lived in Arlington for a few years after college). I’d just spent a year in NYC, and after offering up my first born to live in a shoebox walk-through bedroom on the Upper East Side, rent control in Adams Morgan tasted pretty sweet. I can’t say I choose to live here for an specific reason except I wanted to live in a city, it was a simple move and DC is more my speed.
What do you love about DC?
The pace. The seasons, especially fall. When the town clears out over the holidays. Seaton Street NW (it’s so freaking cute). I’m kinda into the DC flag right now. In general, how cool this city has become. I mean, we have food carts.
What would you change about DC if you could?
More vegetarian restaurants and voting representation.
Tell me about your book – why did you write it?
To be frank, I seriously used to suck at dating. I found the entire process of finding dates and going on dates to be trying at best. And then, after one particularly bad date, the guy, uh, jogged away from me. He didn’t stop to say goodbye or hug or anything. Just picked up his pace to get out as quickly as possible. It was humbling to say the least, and while his reaction to our date was probably more about him than me (I’d like to think), it got me thinking that there had to be a better way. So I decided to really put myself out there and make a project of dating; perhaps if I treated the entire thing like an experiment, I could detach myself from the outcome and actually learn something rather than becoming distraught over every dating “failure.” My book is an account of what happened when I tried out all the different ways of dating–online, singles events, blind dates. I also hired a matchmaker and a dating coach, read dating self-help books, and even went to other cities to date.
In your book you try out dating in other cities. What did you figure out about DC versus other similar American cities?
If I’m totally generalizing, dating in DC tends to be a bit more … stiff and formal when compared to, say, LA. Mostly though, I realized that dudes are the same no matter where you go. And I don’t mean this in a negative way.
Are you still single? If so, who is your ideal man? Where do you think you would find him in DC?
I am currently dating. My ideal man is up for anything, unpretentious and not bothered by the fact that I write about dating. I used to wish I would find this ideal man waiting for me on my stoop, bearing a bouquet of peonies, perhaps even serenading me. I’ve since recovered from this fantastical thinking and I meet most guys I date online.
What’s the best first date spot in DC?
Anywhere with exposed brick, low lighting, that’s not too loud and preferably within a 10 minute walk of my apartment because I am lay-hay-zee. Places that come to mind that might have one or all of these criterion (not including proximity to my neighborhood): L’Enfant Cafe, Room 11, and Smith Commons, which is just about to open on H Street NE.
What’s the worst first date spot in DC?
The Holocaust Museum. Do not go there on a date.
How do you think unique aspects of DC, like the Metro or the National Mall effect the dating here?
You’d think the Metro would be a great place to meet someone, but every time I walk into a station, everyone’s on their phone or has their head buried in a book. If people would just look up and take a gander around them, I wonder how many Metro Matches there would be. In fact, I think Metro should launch a personals program! They could make money off that instead of raising fares. And then we could have working escalators. I digress… The Mall is an amazing green space for picnic or Frisbee dates, which, to me, are the perfect kinds of dates. The museums around the Mall also are solid date spots (and free!). I like the idea of being able to move in and out of conversation as I walk through an exhibit. When you date around a lot, the across-the-table stare down gets mighty old.
What’s your best advice for DC singles?
Slow down, smile at the cute girl or guy next to you, put a profile up on an online dating site (preferably one that does not indicate that you work and play hard – please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t write that), and, in general, take a percentage of the focus that you’ve applied to your wildly successful career and place it squarely on your dating/personal life.
Rachel’s book, The Science of Single, is available for pre-order now on Amazon, and is released tomorrow. You can also get your very own copy at a number of local bookstores, or stop by Rachel’s book talk at Politics and Prose (5015 Connecticut Ave., NW) on January 9 at 5 p.m. to hear her discuss her book. Rachel is also available on her blog, as well as on Twitter.