Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Chicago, IL

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Molly, 22

What do you do for a living?
I'm a coffee-shop girl.

Do you get a lot of coffee-shop crushes?
Totally. There's obviously, like, a customer-server relationship that things like 'Missed Connections' are just built on. Some people get confused when you're required to be nice and perky all the goddamn time.

Are there any creeps in here right now?
I'm seeing someone so maybe I have a boyfriend halo over my head or something that keeps the stalkers out. But, dude, I worked at this place on the North Side for a while and one day, after I'd been there for a long time, my boss told me one of the regulars had come in one day and gave him this CD of pictures, saying that he was a "photographer" and that he wanted my boss to check out his pictures. So my boss pops the disc in his computer, and it's about 150 pictures of me and my friend, half dressed, asleep on the beach. That's it. No "photography", no "art", just a load of T&A shots of yours truly. I'd served this weirdo tea for three months, having no idea about the pictures.

Had the guy ever made a move on you?
No, I never thought anything was weird about him until then. He was just this dude that liked Earl Grey.

Do you have a type?
I've definitely always gone for older guys. I'm not sure why — they just seem more interesting, more ambitious, and more mature. I like them to be more experienced, too — I can't take too much awkwardness. I like guys who know what they're doing.

So you like a guy to take charge?
Well, I think that in my relationship, we share in being giver and receiver. I wouldn't say that either of us is really "in charge", you know? It's more like I'll do more to get him off, and then the next time he'll do more for me. But I also tend to be a little bit lazy. I am so cool with just lying back and letting him do what he wants to do to make me feel good. Not in, like, a necrophilia kind of way, but you know.



Andrew, 26

How do you meet people?
I'm in graduate school and it's a very isolating endeavor, but I have a pretty solid social circle. Basically I go out with them and glom onto the new people they're meeting. It's a proven system.

Is there a type that you can't help but fall for?
A girl who has a good character is more appealing than, say, the sorority types you'll find traveling in herds. I used to go for them, mainly because it was so easy. You could buy them a latte and that was about it.

Is the sex better or worse with the "character" girls?
Well, the thing about the sorority types is that they were teases, which is to say that they'd act really experienced and unimpressed. And I've been in bed with them and suddenly they present this vulnerability that I was not at all prepared for. I'd rather be with a person who is as she presented herself to be in the first place. Sex is better when you and your partner are working on the same level.

So you're not looking to be anyone's teacher?
I'm not… I'm not a dominator. I'm not looking to be the boss of anyone. I derive more pleasure out of knowing that I'm giving a girl what she wants. I like to feel like I'm in charge, whether or not I actually am.

What are your thoughts on porn?
Oh boy. Well, let me be clear about this: not all porn is bad. But, to be very general, I think that way too much of it is building up this idea among men that not only are all women perfectly groomed at all times — which, sorry guys, you're in for some surprises — but also that all women are basically sluts. I know a lot of guys who figure you can just go into a bar and take home the drunkest girl, sleep with her, and take off, and that there's nothing wrong with that. This is, to put it lightly, not good.


Angie, 23

So how do you pay the rent?
I'm a receptionist for a moving company.

Do you ever get any dates doing that?
Not these days — I work remotely. I used to work in an office with a big glass window where guys would walk by and just stand and stare in at me for awkwardly long periods of time.

Did they ever come in or did they just stare?
Mostly stare, but one time I got asked out by Roy Hargrove's piano player. I didn't go out with him, though — I went to see my friends' band play at The Mopery instead. I'm pretty sure I made the right decision.

What would you say is your "type"?
Well, based on my personal history, "coked-out freak" is pretty accurate.

Are you aware of this before you start dating them?
I think I am subconsciously, but I just ignore it. I mean, the particular guy I'm thinking of — he never did it around me or anything. The thing is, I started wondering why I liked him so much, because I just loved kissing him — kissing him was just electric. Like, he would kiss me and I'd be thinking, "Holy shit! This is like magic." And I found out later that he had been rubbing coke on his gums, and we'd make out right after and it'd be all over his mouth so… is that even possible? A second-hand coke buzz from making out? Maybe he really was just an awesome kisser.

You seem pretty unfazed by all this. 
He was a musician.

Yeah, when you get involved with that sort of person, your threshold for ridiculous goes pretty high.

Is there anything that does faze you?
Well, I can tell you that I didn't think this would be the year a guy kept trying to stick his finger up my butt. It was just a little weird at first, but after a while it hurt so I kind of yelped out. But I think he thought that meant I liked it.

Did you tell him that you weren't cool with it?
I broke up with him shortly after that so, you know. It never came up again. Came up! Ha ha! …I'm going to be alone forever.

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Vanessa, 25

What do you do?
Barista by day, derby girl by night.

Do guys dig the derby?
A lot of them sexualize derby and stereotype it as, you know, girls rolling around touching each other. So sometimes you have to drive it home that no, this is a contact sport on wheels with real gear and real injuries. I get a lot of goofy pick-up lines from guys who are apparently into getting their asses kicked.

Does it work for them?
Ha, not really. I don't really have a type, or anything. I go for a range — I'm into interesting, quirky people who are really happy doing what they do.  

Do you have any dealbreakers?
If a guy won't go down on me that's it. It's not even a matter of quality, it's a matter of consideration. Like, if I just went down and sucked your dick, you'd better return the favor.

Like the take a penny/give a penny dish.
Exactly! You need balance it out. If you're that obviously selfish in bed, it's pretty safe to say you're going to suck in other areas of your life as well.

Are you usually the one to call the shots in bed?
No, not really. On the track and in other areas of my life, I'm pretty aggressive, so I like for someone else to take that role in bed. I mean, it's not like I never take on that position — if it's what he's asking for or what I'm feeling that night, no sweat. But, you know. It's nice to take a break.


Theresa, 24

What do you do?
I work in pharmaceutical advertising.

Do you ever date within the office?
No, I've been with my current boyfriend for about a year — he's a grad student at UIC.

Do you tend to stick with long-term relationships?
No, I'm not really a relationship sort of person, though for a long time I had a… is there a P.C. word for "fuck buddy"?

I had a long-term fuck buddy. 

How long is long-term?
Like two years.

How does relationship sex compare with fuck-buddy sex?
Maybe friends with benefits is a better term… anyway. The sex with the fuck-buddy was… it was kind of awful, actually. But every once in a while, your body just really wants to go have sex, and there's this other person who satisfies that need, even if you aren't particularly fond of that person or the performance is sub-par. With my boyfriend, it was amazing from the very beginning. We started having sex pretty early on in the relationship, but it just keeps getting better.

Does amazing sex help the relationship?
Oh, yeah. But it's not the only thing — I definitely know him better now than I did in college, so having an emotional relationship has improved the sex. I mean, when you're having sex with a person and just trying to get off, they're obviously not paying too much attention to what works for you and you aren't really concerned about what's working for them. But with my boyfriend, there's a lot of trust and patience and attention.

That's a big one — trust.
I think about one-night stands, and I just couldn't do that. Or maybe it's just that I am not okay with inviting some stranger over to my house. Like, what do you do when you can't get rid of them? How fun would that conversation be? Me saying, "Who are you?" and him all like, "Breakfast?" No, I think I'm not a fan of one-night stands in general. But I guess that's how you wind up with a long-term fuck buddy.


Rob, 26

What do you do?
I'm in med school, and I draw blood at the hospital.

Do you get a lot of dates doing that?
No, absolutely not. I don't mix my personal and work life. So, you know, I can stick 'em, but I can't stick 'em.

Then where do you meet people?
Normal places — coffee shops. Shows. But I try not to date anyone directly from my social circle, because when I've done that in the past, the post break-up run-ins are always awkward.

I take it you don't usually remain friends with your exes.
No, I have a really serious case of the I-Forgot-Why-I-Broke-Up-With-Yous.

Is that bad?
It's the worst. Especially when you can't have enough space or time afterwards. Like, I dated this one girl and it just ended… it ended very badly. And then the next thing I know I see her walking around at school, and I start thinking things like, "Heyyy… she's attractive." And, "Heyyy… I am so lonely." So we get back together, and there's the back-together awesomeness, and then I have my freak-out because I remember that there was a reason we broke up, and things sort of fall apart from there.

Do you have a type?
Um… does she have a pulse?

Dude. All you need is love. And a pulse.

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