Advice

Sex Advice from Sidewalk Canvassers

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Q: "Why are sidewalk canvassers better lovers?" A: "We're taught to listen. Good sex is all about listening."

Nick, 24

Has sidewalk canvassing changed the way you would approach dating/meeting people?
I'm in a long-term relationship, but I can see how it'd help me if I were single. I spend all day talking to strangers, so it's made me more socially aware. It's easier to talk to people. I put myself out there all the time, and I'm rejected probably ten times for every one time someone stops to talk to me. And then there are people who stop to talk to me and don't end up donating, like, ahem, you.

Sorry about that. Dating sounds easier than sidewalk canvassing.
Retention rates for canvassers are low. You have to be committed. I'm paid to represent a charity. If people aren't donating, all I'm doing is taking money from the cause. 

People must ask you out on the job.
Oh, yeah. Mostly men. I talk primarily to them, because I initially wasn't comfortable approaching women.

Why?
There's a lot of flirting on the job. Maybe not how I do it, but how others do it. We're taught to mirror the other person's energy. So if someone's flirtatious with us, we send back that same vibe. If someone's slow-talking, we slow down to make them feel more comfortable. Same with high energy. 

That's so applicable to dating.
Everything we do is. The other day, I stopped a man in the rain. He was filling out the form, and when he saw the space for the phone number, he said, "I don't give a number, unless I get a number." And he batted his eyes. So I gave him my email.

Did he email?
He hasn't. 

I was hoping he sent you some sexy pics or something.
Some people do reach out. I've received three or four racy emails since my tenure started in November. Men and women ask me out for drinks. I decline. People stop for canvassers, but we want them to actually learn about the cause and support that.

Why are sidewalk canvassers better lovers?
We're taught to listen. Good sex is listening to how a person wants to be touched.

I met this great girl. She's sexy, funny, and successful. The only problem: she's really preachy about the environment. I don't drive a Hummer or work for BP, but I'm not an environmentalist. How can we keep our ideological differences from being a dealbreaker?
What? Who doesn't care about the environment? I don't think it has to be a dealbreaker. You can separate your relationship time from the time you spend fighting for a cause. You have to know your outlets.

But there must be certain beliefs that are essential in a partner for you.
Well, yeah. I couldn't date someone who wouldn't sponsor a child. So this is never going to work. You and I are never going to be together. 

I've gone on a few dates with a friend of a friend. We really click and I want to get to know him better, but I initiate everything. What's going on? Is he just not into me?
He's probably scared or inexperienced. Some people don't ever learn how to be smooth. Maybe he's not interested, but then why is he going on all these dates with you? Talk to him about it.

What about pulling away so the ball's in his court?
I mean, feigning disinterest can make someone want you more. 

If only that worked for canvassers!
Seriously.

I recently ended a long-term relationship. My ex-girlfriend and I both agreed we fell out of love with each other, so I thought it was mutual. I bumped into one of her friends recently, and the friend had no idea we'd broken up. I'm beginning to think my ex hasn't told many people. Why wouldn't she tell people close to her that we're no longer together? Should I confront her?
Maybe she feels bad about the breakup and wants to get back together. Or maybe the relationship just wasn't that big of a deal, so she and her friends don't even talk about it.

I've been with my boyfriend for a while, and he's suddenly become more sexually adventurous — like a totally different person in bed. Should I suspect he's cheating?
It's porn. Well, a combination: a certain level of comfort, possibly boredom, maybe an emotional breakthrough, but mostly porn. Everything I've learned as a serial dater and non-cheater has been through trial and error and porn.

I recently met my good friend's college boyfriend. They haven't been together for years and are good friends now. He asked me out, and I'm interested. Should I okay things with my friend before I say yes?
Of course you should. Logically, you shouldn't have to. But relationships aren't logical.

Roger, 19

Has sidewalk canvassing changed the way you approach dating/meeting people?
I think it gives you more of a presence, and it makes it easier to talk to people. I've always been good at figuring out people pretty quickly, but this also helps with that. 

And I know rejection is a huge part of being a sidewalk canvasser…
Yeah. For every ten people I see, maybe two will stop and talk to me. 

That's still pretty good, though! Do people ever stop to ask you out?
Yeah, it happens. I meet friends this way, too. It's how I met my roommate.

What do you say when someone's clearly flirting?
It depends on the situation. I talk to them first to see if there's a connection. But on the job, we're not allowed to make the first move. I mean, we're working.

So what should I do if I want to pick up a sidewalk canvasser?
Just be yourself, and be interested in whatever charity or cause the canvasser's talking about. And if you walk by at first without stopping and then come back, I'm open to that. 

I've gone on a few dates with a friend of a friend. We really click and I want to get to know him better, but I initiate everything. What's going on? Is he just not into me?
Probably! Or maybe he's boring or shy. It could also be that you have an overpowering personality.

How do I find out?
Ask. Start a conversation. "Do you like me or not? Is there something I'm doing wrong?" It's a hard conversation, but how else will you find out? 

I recently ended a long-term relationship. My ex-girlfriend and I both agreed we fell out of love with each other, so I thought it was mutual. I bumped into one of her friends recently, and the friend had no idea we'd broken up. I'm beginning to think my ex hasn't told many people. Why wouldn't she tell people close to her that we're no longer together? Should I confront her?
With Facebook relationship statuses, people always find out about this stuff so quickly. It's heartbreaking. Maybe your ex-girlfriend was going along with the breakup because you wanted it. But it sounds like she didn't really want it. Maybe she's hoping you'll get back together. I wouldn't confront her about it in an upset way, but you might need to talk to her.

I've been with my boyfriend for a while, and he's suddenly become more sexually adventurous  like a totally different person in bed. Should I suspect he's cheating?
That's cynical. He just wants to try new things. But you can ask what's inspired him. It's normal to want to switch things up.

I recently met my good friend's college boyfriend. They haven't been together for years and are good friends now. He asked me out, and I'm interested. Should I okay things with my friend before I say yes?
Yeah. Run it by her.

Even if this was more than five years ago? 
What do you believe in more: going out with this guy or your friendship?

What's the better story: meeting your boyfriend or girlfriend through sidewalk canvassing or online dating?
They're both good ways to meet people, but I think it's probably more fun having that first encounter on the sidewalk.

Laura, 23

You're cute. You must get hit on all day while canvassing.
Yes. It's typically guys, but some girls, too. Two days ago, some guy said he would sign anything I gave him, if I let him stick it in my butt. He said it like he was serious.

How did you react?
I just said no, and he walked away. And there was this guy from Italy who kissed me on my cheek, called me his beautiful angel, and recited an Italian poem for me.

Was he drunk?
No. 

How do you deal with sexual harassment?
I'm working, so all I can say is, "That's inappropriate." There've been incidents where a female canvasser was stroked or got her ass grabbed.

So, I feel insensitive for asking this right after you've told me about sexual harassment on the job, but would you ever be open to meeting someone while canvassing?
Probably not. I'm in a relationship, first of all. But I feel like if someone's hitting on me in this type of situation, it's creepy.

But what if the person's nice and attractive and obviously believes in the cause? 
I'd be more comfortable dating another canvasser. Canvassers are all part of this unique world other people aren't aware of, and we have this cause in common.

So how can a random passerby get the attention of a canvasser?
Don't be creepy. Walk up to the canvasser, listen to what he or she says, and help out in whatever way you can if you support the cause. Feel it out before you ask for a phone number. You have to talk a bit to know if the canvasser's receptive. We get a lot of attention we don't want.

Has sidewalk canvassing changed the way you would approach dating?
Yeah. I talk to strangers on the street, so approaching someone in a bar is nothing.

I've been with my boyfriend for awhile, and he's suddenly become more sexually adventurous — like a totally different person in bed. Should I suspect he's cheating?
No. It's natural to want to try new things. Assuming that his curiosity must come from a bad place isn't healthy. If you say something suspicious to your boyfriend, he'll be discouraged from ever trying anything new. 

I recently ended a long-term relationship. My ex-girlfriend and I both agreed we fell out of love with each other, so I thought it was mutual. I bumped into one of her friends recently, and the friend had no idea we'd broken up. I'm beginning to think my ex hasn't told many people. Why wouldn't she tell people close to her that we're no longer together? Should I confront her?
I don't know that people always tell everyone about a breakup right away. Sometimes they wait it out to see what happens, or until they can talk about it without falling apart. I'd try to contact the ex's best friend. That's the person who'd definitely know. Maybe the friends you ran into aren't close friends.

Your answers take such a stand. No waffling from you.
Yeah. I know what I believe.