The XX Factor

Please Enjoy This Account of One of the Washington Post’s Worst Matchmaking Experiments Ever

Alcohol is “poison,” the guy informed his date when he saw her drinking a cocktail.


The Washington Post is taking its motto very seriously these days. Because “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” even the paper’s famously weird matchmaking section is shedding some disinfecting sunlight on one of the bleakest segments of contemporary humanity: the D.C. dating scene.

Last week’s Date Lab entry featured Blake Neff, a “proud Trump voter” and writer at an unnamed cable news station. Neff’s Twitter profile reveals that, unsurprisingly, that station is Fox, and the show is Tucker Carlson’s. Neff sounds like a real charmer: He told Date Lab that he would “not necessarily oppose [Washington’s] destruction by nuclear fireball, even if I am in it at the time” and likes “virtuous” women who value their families over “ambitious career goals.” He also says he doesn’t date much. Strange!

Date Lab writer Michelle Cottle deserves credit for facing Neff’s relationship challenges head-on in the nicest possible way. Neff required “a bit more care than others when being matched,” she writes, because he “can come across as a wee bit defensive.” He hates the city he lives in and the things people do in it, such as using dating apps and bragging about their “B.S. master’s degrees.” When Date Lab asked about his interests, Neff replied that “most of my hobbies allow me to escape women.”

Some singles might balk at a guy who says he doesn’t like socializing with women and works for a man who thought it was funny to joke about ejaculating on women in work emails. Date Lab had the unenviable task of finding a woman mature enough to look past those slight blemishes on Neff’s dating profile to see the true gem (?) underneath. The lucky guinea pig was McKenzie Smith, a “traditional conservative” and “die-hard Southerner” who likes “frat boy types.” She was “fascinated” by Neff’s conspicuous brandishing of a book on Catherine the Great at their date; Neff was impressed by how “genuinely well-read” Smith appeared to be.

But Neff squandered any benefit of the doubt Smith gave him when he continued opening his mouth. When faced with her blond hair, he told her he preferred brown locks. When he was late to the restaurant and walked in to find her sipping a drink at the bar, he informed her that alcohol is “poison.” Yet Neff told Date Lab that when Smith said she wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue a relationship, he thought, “If I were Brad Pitt, you would be”—a classic case of a man blaming a woman’s romantic disinterest on something wrong with her (in this case, her imagined superficiality) instead of his own bad personality.

Though both parties inexplicably rated the outing a four out of five, they haven’t gone on a second date. Poor McKenzie told Date Lab that she was scared Neff would “trash” her in his postdate interview. Looks like Neff is still on the lookout for a woman with a “willingness to see the ironies and oddities in anything, even if it’s dark or mundane.” One supposes that includes the irony of a 27-year-old who detests braggarts of educational pedigrees putting his undergraduate alma mater (Dartmouth!) in his Twitter profile, and the irony of a man who uses his hobbies to “escape women” asking a newspaper to set him up with one.