Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.


Penelope, 23

What do you do for a living?

Does this job get you dates?
It has. Actually, one of my last boyfriends was one of my regulars. He was actually the first client to ever ask me out. But that didn't end up going too well. We moved in together in this little apartment about five months after we started dating. We had the apartment for a year, but ended up breaking up after six months. So we had to live together even though we weren't together for six months.

Have you ever had your heart broken?
It happened a lot for a few years. I really wanted a boyfriend and I just kept meeting these guys who kept breaking my heart. My parents had just gotten divorced so I think I was looking for a sense of security and support.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
I think I used to. I'm not sure if I do anymore. I believe in attraction at first sight, of course. But I think that love is
accepting someone for who they are, and being able to stay in it over time. You can't know that about someone without getting to know them.

Which of the seven deadly sins best defines you?
I think lust. And I don't necessarily mean that in a sexual way. I mean, I do have a very high sex drive. But on top of that I find a lot of things very sensual, and I believe in making things very sensual. So when I say that I'm "lustful," I try to make and see and feel things as beautiful as they can be.

What is the worst date you've been on?
I met this guy on the street when I was eighteen. He was twenty-three at the time. He took me to see the movie Silk with Keira Knightley, and it was one of the first showings, so there were tons of people in theatre. But he tried to grope me and have sex with me in the theater.

What did you do?
Well, because I was so young and stupid, I didn't know what to do. He went to the bathroom and I ended up calling my friend. She pretended to call me with boyfriend problems or something like that so that I had an excuse to leave. It's crazy because this guy called and texted me for, like, eight months after that. He didn't get the picture.

Would you consider yourself a "give head to get head" kind of girl?
I actually really don't like to give head so I don't accept head because of that. I don't think it's fair.

Is there a reason you don't like giving it?
I'm afraid that I'm going to do it badly. A lot of my boyfriends at the time have offered up the role of, like, a "practice buddy."

Generous of them.
I know, right? But it doesn't matter how many times I practice or whatever. I've done it lots of times and I've heard I'm really good at it. But it still makes me really nervous.

What's the longest amount of time you've had sex?
I'd say about twelve hours. It was last summer.

Wow. Did you take breaks?
Well, we went to the bathroom and ate. But yeah, it was pretty continuous. I think we were really drunk and just did Aderall or something.

Describe the perfect date.
It's really basic, but just having drinks sitting outside. I like it casual because I think I get really nervous at nice restaurants, especially if I don't know the person. I don't know what to say, and it just sort of ruins it for me. I also think that the timing of the drinks is really important. If it's a late-night drink then I think it's more about a hookup than getting to know someone. But if you get casual seven-p.m. drinks then it's open-ended. You could hook up, or you could just have drinks and talk. I guess the best dates that I've been on are epic — they last until four in the morning because we just don't want to go home; we have so much to say to one another.


Raj, 32

What do you do for a living?
Let's just say I'm a "computer guy." I work in the IT department of a major corporation whose products you probably use.

Does this job get you dates?
Perhaps surprisingly, yes. The last three women I dated were all women I worked with. Though I don't think that necessarily had anything to do with my job; that's just kind of how things worked out for me.

Have you ever had your heart broken?
Yes, I have.

Do you want to provide any details?
Not really.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Kind of. I believe in fate, or destiny — that the universe has a plan for people. I think as part of that we're supposed to meet certain people. And when you come across one of the people you're supposed to meet, I think you feel an instant sense of connection. That won't always be love; it might just be that you're supposed to be friends with that person, or that you're supposed to learn from or teach something to one another. If you're meant to fall in love with someone though, I do think you'll probably feel that initial sense of connection in a particularly strong way, and that that may be what people interpret as "love at first sight."

What's the worst date you've ever been on?
You mean like a bad experience when you first start going out? I don't think I've ever really been on a bad date in that sense. All of the women I've been in relationships with have been women I started off as friends with. So by the time we started dating, we already knew we'd get along pretty well.

Would you say that you're a "give head to get head" sorta guy?
Well, I'm more of a "give head" sorta guy. I really, really enjoy giving head. It's like a necessity. I could do it all day long. As far as getting head goes, though, I could take it or leave it. I mean if the woman wants to do it, I'm happy to oblige. But it's not something I'm interested in enough to ask for. There's something really satisfying about making the woman happy. Besides, if she's happy, chances are she's going to want to make you really happy.

Describe your perfect date.
Well, she comes home from work. I have a drink waiting for her, which I give to her, and then I ask her how her day was. While she's telling me, I may stand behind her and rub her shoulders. Or I take her shoes off and massage her feet. I tell her how my day was. Then we make dinner together, and after that we watch a movie while cuddling on the couch. We make out. I go down on her. We move to the bedroom where we make love. Then we sleep wrapped up in each other's arms all night long. In the morning, I get up and make her breakfast. Maybe serve it to her in bed. That's it.

It's like you want to be the male version of a 1950s housewife.
I do look pretty good in an apron.


Kim, 26

What do you do for a living?
I'm a bank teller in Queens.

Does this job get you dates?
I don't really know. I just got out of a four-year relationship, so I haven't even really thought about dating. But it probably won't get me dates in the future. I work in a really Mexican neighborhood and don't speak a lot of Spanish, so that will probably be an issue. And everyone I work with is old or married.

Have you ever had sex at work?
Not this job. But I used to work at a country club upstate. We didn't have sex, but me and this other waiter snuck into the pool, drunk, really late at night, and did some heavy petting.

Caddyshack style?
Sort of. I wasn't too worried about getting caught because I was quitting in a week. So after we hooked up in the pool, we ended up pouring a bottle of vodka in the water. I think he peed too.

Have you ever had your heart broken?
No. I've always been the one who does the heart-breaking.

Why's that?
When I was younger and in college, I got bored with guys easily. Mostly because they were typical college guys who was always getting wasted.

Did you break your last boyfriend's heart?
He won't admit it, but I think so. I didn't get bored of him, like other guys, but he wasn't pulling his weight with things like rent, or chores around the apartment. We wanted different things in life also — I wanted to start saving money so we could get a better place outside the city and he wanted to relive his college years. I told him things needed to change. When they didn't, I broke up with him.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
I believe in lust in first sight. Being in love right away is bullshit. You need years and years for love. It's a culmination of experiences — good and bad. If you haven't experienced anything with a person then how are you going to love them? Love at first sight is you hoping what the future might look like with him or her.

Describe the perfect date?
Ninety-seven percent of the time, I want to run within the first few minutes of meeting someone — they're boring or have bad breath or manners or something. So good chemistry, a spark, is a must. As for where I like to go: I like dimly lit candles and lots of wood, maybe some velvet couches. Something homey looking. Vintry, for example, is a great wine and whiskey bar.

Been there on a lot of dates?
Not a lot of dates. But a lot in general. I had this guy meet me there last Sunday actually and he loved it. It has a really intimate, yet inviting vibe. Makes people want to open up, which is important.

Did you two open up to each other?
You can say that. He was so open that he admitted to having a girlfriend.

So why did he agree to go on a date with you?
Because I rock. No… I don't know. He's not happy and all that. He was looking to see what else was out there.

What's the worst date you've been on?
I could say that one. But he picked up the check, so, whatever. I've never really been on a bad one. I don't date too often.

What's the longest amount of time you've had sex?
My ex was a two-pump chump. And before him there weren't a lot of guys I slept with. So, twenty minutes maybe? I don't usually keep an eye on the clock. If I come, I'm happy.

Asher, 29

What do you do for a living?
I'm a math teacher in Brooklyn.

Does this job get you dates?
What do you think?

I have no idea actually.
The answer is no. My day is spent teaching high schoolers algebra and all of the other teachers I work with are married, old and married, or uninterested in a math teacher.

Why is that?
Look at me. I'm a nerd.

But don't women secretly love nerds?
Urban legend.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
I believe you can know if you're going to fall in love with someone at first sight. Maybe not right then and there. Like, my ex-girlfriend and I dated for four years and I just saw her at a grocery store. She was in the ice-cream aisle and I knew right away that I was going to fall in love with her.

We both like Rocky Road. It helped that she was wearing a thin shirt and leaning into a freezer.

Have you ever had your heart broken?

Was there a differing opinion on ice creams?
You could say that. Let's just say she preferred chocolate and I'm vanilla.

Have you ever had sex at work?
We've been over this: high schoolers, old people, married people, and I'm a nerd. The answer is no.

Would you consider yourself a "give head to get head" sort of guy?
What guy doesn't love getting head? I definitely do and even though I don't expect a girl to, I keep things maintained down there so that it looks inviting.

How do you maintain "down there"?
I shave. And it's always good to give a little — what's the word? — spritz of cologne down there. Not on my dick and balls. But, like, above it.

What's the longest you've had sex?
The longest I've gone without sex? Well… we're reaching the five-month point right now.

You're telling me. But, when I actually was having sex my ex and I could go at it for hours. Not always penetration, but like foreplay and stuff. That counts as sex too right?

I think so.
Me too. Foreplay is key, for men and women. Don't get defensive or anything, but I loved when she'd cook us dinner — that was a really sexy thing for me.

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach thing?
For me it is. But we'd have a good meal together — I'd pull out a candle or two and do that whole thing — and have a few glasses of wine. Afterward, I wanted to show my appreciation. We did it on the kitchen counter once.

Before the meal?
Well… we never really got to the meal. Not until much later. We made it to the kitchen floor though.


Christine, 25

What do a living?
I'm a photographer up in western New York; I take pictures of people's kids and newborns.

How did you get into that?
I wanted to take pictures of my young kids so I bought a nice camera and the business just sort of grew.

So I guess this job doesn't get you dates?
No. I've been married for five years.

Which of the seven deadly sins best describes you?
Probably wrath. I have a short temper.

At least it leads to make-up sex, right?
It does, especially because I'm married. When you live with someone, everything's intensified.

What's the longest amount of time you've had sex?
From foreplay to the end?

I guess forty-five minutes. That's pretty normal, right?

Have you ever had your heart broken?
No. I've only ever had sex with one other person before my husband, and I never really dated before that.

Have you ever had sex at work?
Yeah, but not this current job. That'd be pretty bad if I was going in and screwing the dads. When I was nineteen, I was working retail and had a crush on my boss who was thirty-four at the time. Once he knew I liked him, he made the first move.

What was the move?
We were just joking about sex at work. And before I went home for the night he asked if I was serious. When I said, "yes," things went from there. Like, one time I was on my break during a shift and we were in the office having sex on the desk. All of a sudden a call came through on the intercom that his wife was there.

Oh shit. Did she catch you?
No, thankfully. But the district manager found out and fired him. My boss needed to come up with an excuse to tell his wife why he got fired. I don't know what he said.

Now that you're married, do you have any regrets?
Yes. I was young and only thinking of myself. I regret getting involved with a married guy and would feel horrible if I found out my husband did this to me.


Elliot, 30

What do you do for a living?
I'm a freelance editor for corporate advertising videos.

Does this job get you dates?
I'm artistically minded, which is good for dates. It got me a very important date with an artistically minded girl. We've been going strong for six months.

Have you ever had sex at work?
Half the time I work in offices. The other half I work from my bedroom. So I guess I have sex at work half the time.

Have you ever had your heart broken?
Yes. I fell passionately in love at first sight when I was twenty-five. A very innocent way. Inexperienced. I realized I was in love with an idea more than a person. She was a struggling actress whom I met at a party. I slowly realized that she had an abusive childhood and that it was an impossible relationship. We're friends now.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
I believe it's statistically possible. I fell in love this way a couple of times, but it wasn't the right kind of love. Both times the relationships ended up being apocalyptically self-destructive for both parties. Pure Romeo and Juliet.

Which of the seven deadly sins is your favorite?
Probably greed. Because money can buy all the other sins.

What is the worst date you've ever been on?
A few years ago I was on a date during which I got too drunk and ended up with an $800 tab entertaining a girl that I really wasn't interested in.

How did that happen?
I didn't realize they were serving me the most expensive champagne. But I stole a silver peanut holder after signing the check, which I still have to this day. It makes me feel better about the whole experience.

She didn't offer to help with the tab?
I always pick up the tab on first dates.

What's the longest you've had sex?
Sophomore year in college. Twenty-one orgasms in twenty-four hours.

You or her?

Yeah, I was young and dumb and full of come. I'm trying to think of how many she had. I was exhausted and sore by the end of it. The last few were all about the record and ceased to be fun.

What record were you trying to break?
Twenty-one. It was arbitrarily determined. It was a total waste of the next day though. I stayed in bed, not fucking, but recovering.

Describe the perfect date.
One in which I never need to think about what to talk about. A constant flow of conversation, not disturbed by self-consciousness. It's about making a connection. Your adrenaline levels rise. And you get a second date out of it.

What about the aesthetics?
The surroundings seem perfect at first but then they just disappear.