News & Politics

Dating Diaries: Dana Neil

Want to know what dating in DC is really like? We do. We convinced several area singles to share their dating adventures with us for the next few months. Stay tuned for their tales and their opinions. And, of course, weigh in with your own thoughts. Today

Photograph by Chris Leaman.

Dana Neil, 45.

Lives in: Northern Virginia

Makes a living: Planning events for a trade association.

Background: My dad was an Army officer, so I grew up all over the world. I’ve been in this area about 27 years now. I guess I’d consider myself a native compared to a lot of people around here. I have one sister, and she lives on the same street as I do. My parents are down in Florida with all the other retirees.

I’m a single mom. I started young. I have a 24-year-old, a 22-year-old, and a 20-year-old. I’m an empty nester. It was a really brief period of sadness. It took a little bit to get used to being on my own and having a quiet house, but now it’s nice. I like the freedom. I have an old golden retriever who’s 13 ½.

Dating history: I was married for 15 years. We separated and divorced 11 years ago. He was my second serious boyfriend. He was 23 and I was 19 when we got married. I had kids very young. That was all I wanted to do, focus on my family. I was a stay-at-home mom until we separated. As far as ugly divorces go, ours was really fine. We put the kids first, and aside from a couple of instances everything was fine. He’d come to my house for Christmas morning so he could spend the holidays with the kids. When he got a serious girlfriend, they’d come together for birthdays and things.

I had one relationship that lasted about two years. He was the first relationship after my divorce. He was my shot in the arm. He was sweet and nice, but I wasn’t ready to get married. He’s since gotten married and had kids. I’ve been in the dating world since then. I date, date, date and then get tired of it and then date, date, date. I was building a career, and when I looked back I realize I didn’t want a serious relationship. I had my focus on other things. I did date, but it was just for fun. I took the opportunity to date all different kinds of people. So I have funny stories about odd people. Ultimately, I’d love to meet someone and settle down. I can’t say I’d get married again.

Favorite date story: The one everyone likes is about the guy who wanted to have his toenails painted. I went out with him about three times. We got along very well. About the third date, I was realizing it wasn’t going to work. We had this very adult conversation about it. He wanted to hang out as friends because we did have a good time. He asked if he could paint my toenails, and I said okay. Then he asked if I’d paint his. I said okay. I didn’t know what else to say. He wanted me to paint his toenails a sky blue with a white tip because it would go with the new ankle bracelet he’d just ordered. His plan was that we would go shopping together to pick out the color. Then we’d paint each other’s toes and go walking through the park. When he told me this, I asked him if he was gay. He said no; he just liked doing women things with women. Part of me was proud of him. Maybe that’s what he needed. Part of me just couldn’t believe I was having this conversation. A few days later, I had a phone message with him singing and telling me his bracelet was in. I didn’t call him back, and he didn’t call me back.

Recently, I was on a second date. I was hugging him goodbye, and he farted. I tried to get past it and we went out a few times, but I kept hearing it. I thought if this was coming on the second date, what would happen on the tenth?

Meeting people: I’ve met people on Metro. I’ve met people at the grocery store. I’ve met people online. I’ve done speed dating. No one has set me up, really. I don’t do the bars—I’m just not a bar person. I feel funny going out by myself. Most of my friends are married and don’t do the bar scene.

Your type: A strong, confidant man. Some people find their confidence by being cocky or demeaning. I don’t like that. I’m a social person, so someone who is shy or reserved is probably not going to be a good fit. People energize me.

Celebrity crush: Pierce Brosnan or George Clooney—he’s the all-American.

Most romantic city: Venice, Italy. I was there with my family, and I fell in love with it.

Finish these sentences:
My high school prom was . . . old.
“Happily ever after” is . . . content.
Romeo & Juliet is . . . a nice fantasy.
A deal breaker is . . . smoking.
John McCain is . . . a true American hero.
Barack Obama is . . . inspirational.


Tunes: I love Motown. I love the ’80s songs. I’m going to see the Legwarmers tonight. I’ve been going to Jimmy Buffett for almost 30 years. I like 3 Doors Down.

TV: Grey’s Anatomy and The Office.

Movies: The Sound of Music, Cool Runnings, Lost in Translation.

Books: Fiction as opposed to nonfiction. I just finished reading a book by David Sedaris, and I think he’s great.

Sports: I like watching all of them. I don’t follow them on TV. I like the atmosphere of the games.

Drink: I like martinis and margaritas and beer on a hot, hot day.

Restaurant: My favorite romantic restaurant is Tabard Inn.

Previous Daters:
Kate Searby
Mark Drapeau
Michael Amesquita
Sally Colson Cline
Max Schwartz

Check back at to meet more of our daters.