"Am I making you nervous? I'm just a human, it's not a full moon outside so I'm not going to drink your blood."
First dates come with their fair share of awkward questions, no matter how seasoned a dater you think you are. When it comes to those looking for real commitment, they have even less patience with anything but the straight questions.
For Gabriela, however, straight questions seem to be her forte.
The 37-year-old logistics supervisor was one of the daters on last night's First Dates, and was an instant hit on social media thanks to her direct and no-nonsense dating style.
Originally from Transylvania, Gabriela grew up in a small town where her family struggled with money. She says she "always had to take care of everybody, so I had to be strong". She was the first member of the family to go to college, which was all funded by scholarships.
"I had to fight really hard for everything that I've got, and that made me strong. It gives people the impression that I'm very tough but I'm soft", she says.
Thanks to her busy work schedule, Gabriela says she finds dating "tough", but it sounds like she's a pro at what she does, joking, "I boss men around all day!"
Whether she realised it or not, she met her match in Graham, a 34-year-old oil rig worker from Dublin. Working around the world all year, depending on where he's stationed, Graham also finds dating tough and struggles with opening up to people.
With Gabriela, though, he didn't have much of a choice. The questions came hard and fast, .
"Is there anything you want to know about me?"
"Are you a mammy's boy?"
"Are you disappointed that I'm not Irish?"
When it came to that last question, Graham was quick to assure her that wasn't the case. In fact, he added, "My last girlfriend and current best friend was Polish". Here it was Gabriela's turn to be thrown.
"Whoa, stop right there", she replied. "Explain."
Ooph she's not happy with the ex thing at alllll #FirstDatesIRL— Notorious NFT 👁️ (@ParamitePies) March 25, 2021
For many people, this would be incredibly relatable, especially since one of the traditional golden rules of first dates is you don't talk about your exes. Even during a pandemic, there are some rules that are not easily broken. But Graham was as direct and honest in his reply: "We tried dating for a bit and realised we were just friends, so we remain friends ever since."
Sensing Graham was perhaps experiencing a bit of a dating baptism by fire, maitre'd Matteo dropped by their table while Gabriela was in the bathroom and offered him some advice on women from his "block", also being Eastern European.
"These kinds of ladies, they don't show too much. They're tough. You have to fight for it... but once you break the shell, then the beauty comes out."
And as the date went on, the pair gradually opened up to each other, finding similarities and sharing struggles. Gabriela shared that having come out of a relationship roughly a year previous, she felt she had "nothing". Not even able to eat, she went into what she calls a "vegetive state".
Eventually she sought help from depression support groups, finding one in Blanchardstown and going that same evening. Now on the other side of that struggle, she says she wants to "pay it forward" and help others in similar situations.
While there were no obvious sparks at the start, this pair proved to be a slow burning flame of a match as at the end of their date they both agreed to meet again when they could – work obligations permitting!
Following the episode, we caught up with Relationship Coach Annie Lavin to find out if Graham really did break a golden rule of dating. Should the topic of ex-relationships be kept off the table on a first date or is it healthy to discuss your past as much as your future?
"If a large proportion of your first date is consumed by listening to details of your date's ex, it can indicate where their attention or energy may still be focused," explains Annie. "However, if they casually mention their ex, I wouldn't be too alarmed, we all have a past."
"It can be interesting to notice how they speak of their ex's whenever the conversation organically comes up," she adds. "I'm always intrigued when an ex is referred to as 'crazy' and wonder what actions may have brought out their 'crazy'!"
Catch up on First Dates Ireland on RTÉ Player now.