Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we've just met.

Jena, 28

What's your occupation?
I'm a comedian.

What's a relationship dealbreaker for you for guys?
I never get to the relationship point, but just in dating, if a guy tries to have sex without a condom, that's a dealbreaker.

What is the kinkiest thing that has ever happened to you or that you have done to someone else?
Kinky is open to interpretation. I guess fooling around in a graveyard. I would have had sex, but it was a Jewish cemetery and I just didn't feel right about it.

Are you Jewish?

But if the cemetery was any other religious denomination –
Oh totally, yeah. I would have totally gone for it.

On what date number did you decide to go to the cemetery?
This was with my ex-boyfriend. We snuck into the cemetery.

Did you sneak in for the explicit purpose of fooling around in the cemetery?
I find that cemeteries are really fertile places because a lot of people take their dreams there to die. A lot of people don't live their dreams so they get buried with them. As a result, cemeteries are full of life and dreams. They're very erotic.

Why did you guys break up?
Because I moved to New York and he's in Chicago.

Are you single? Dating?
Dating. I know this is not 2005, but I started a blog called Not So Lonely Planet and it's a guide to men in other countries. Like the way Lonely Planet is a cultural roadmap, this is a roadmap on how to date men in different countries.

Are there any men you prefer based on their geographic location?
From my experiences, I really enjoyed hanging out with French men. German men kind of scare me. I do stand up comedy so I travel all around for comedy. I meet people and I go on dates and I capture those dates in this blog.

So what's so great about French men?
Well, German men are aggressive, and Italian men are insane. They'll be like "I love you" and it means "let's grab a cup of coffee." And this German guy I dated was so meticulous about us splitting drinks and the bill and stuff, and that was so unattractive. But the couple of French men I've hung out with seem like they know women. They're confident. They just know how to seduce women in an awesome way that doesn't seem creepy. They know how to seduce women in a way that's sexy. Not aggressive but just the right amount of aggression. Not too hot, not too cold.

Where do you recommend picking up these guys or getting picked up? After your shows?
I don't want to meet anyone who has seen me do comedy. If you're in a foreign country and you clearly don't look like you're from there, you will meet people. Men can smell that on you. You're like prey. In New York, it depends on what you want. If you want to be held by a stranger, go to a bar at 3 a.m. New York is a different breed. I have no advice on how to date men here.

Have you tried online dating before?
No. I just need to smell men's pheromones.

Do you have any general advice for guys?
When you have sex with a girl, wear condoms. A lot of my friends in New York have all had these experiences where really awesome, nice guys try to fuck us without condoms. If anything, it just shows you are not responsible. You are not responsible for your own shit.


Todd, 25

What's your occupation?
I work in children's cartoons. I draw the background for cartoons, like a cartoonist.

How did you lose your virginity?
Lost my virginity on prom night in high school. Classic way. I'd been dating the girl for a while... seven months?

How long did you two last afterwards?
Off and on for seven years.

Well, I'm not with her right now.

What's the kinkiest thing you've ever done? Or had done to you?
Butt play? I don't know.

You playing with her butt?
A little bit, yeah. A little digital manipulation.

Was it a request? Or an improv performance?
I think the worst thing would have been if it were an improv performance.

What's one thing you wish girls would do more of in bed? Or less of?
Oral sex. Going down on a guy should happen more often. At least in my experience, that'd be nice.

Do you care if it's a spit or swallow situation?
I don't care.

How long would you wait for sex?
You mean like, lose your virginity sex?

No, that only happens once. I mean like if it's like Date One, Two, Three, or Four… when does it become unreasonably long?
This is going to skew your responses. She's the only girl I've been with.

Yeah. Otherwise, I'd give different answers. I'm throwing you off here.

You are! Can I ask what happened to the relationship? Why didn't it work out after seven years?
She moved to Korea for a while. We're really bad at long-distance, so we decided to cut that off. Mutually.

And how long have you been broken up?
Eight months.

Are you actively dating? Or how do you plan on actively dating?
I would love to be actively dating. Right now, I'm just trying to go out and do more things that I like and then meet people who like doing the same things. And I'm on an online-dating site but it's not working out great. I just started.

So what's an online-dating dealbreaker? What's a 'delete'?
If you can't write coherent sentences, that's a dealbreaker.

Do you respond to girls who hit on you?
I'm all for girls hitting on the guy. That's fine. I have responded to that. I guess they didn't like my responses.

How many internet dates have you been on?
I only started a month ago.

So you haven't upgraded to the real-life experience.
No. I think if I said yes to some of the girls who messaged me, I would have gone on some bizarro dates.


Ashley, 25

What is your occupation?
I'm in grad school right now.

What's your relationship status right now?
I'm in a long-term relationship.

Do you have any advice for people who want to be in long-term relationships? How did you do it?
I don't know if I like that way of thinking about relationships. I think it's really good to be single, and I just somehow found myself in a long-term relationship. If you are desperately searching to be in a long-term relationship and it's not working out and you're frustrated, start by chilling out and being happy where you're at. Figure out what you want to do. And then just date a lot.

So what was so special about this guy?
He's got his shit together. I spent a lot of time dating guys who weren't as motivated or proactive about getting their life together as I was. I ended up taking care of them, and it's really important to be with someone who doesn't need taking care of. Having an equal relationship is an important thing.

How did you meet him?
We actually met online.

Did you have any dating-profile dealbreakers? Or internet-message dealbreakers?
Anybody who needed to be in a long-term relationship immediately — if they were looking for the person they were going to be with for the next five years — that was not someone I would be interested in. You have to be relaxed about it and not on a mission.

Do you have any general dating advice?
Mostly, don't settle. It goes equally both ways: don't settle. It's not a good mindset. If it's not working and if it's not really want you want, don't just assume there's nothing else out there.

On the sex front: any constructive criticism for guys? Or pet peeves?
This is a really predictable answer but confidence is really important. I think guys worry a lot about coming across as too aggressive sometimes. That they are going to be the asshole. But I think it's better to take the risk and be out there. Why not? Be upfront with people about what you want. When you first have sex with someone, you have this feeling-each-other-out thing going on. The best way out of that is really communicating what you want — that goes for both parties. Don't be shy about it. That's when things get awkward and uncomfortable. Be upfront and go for it! Obviously, respect people's boundaries.

Did you have any crazy dating stories from before this relationship?
Yeah. I've had horrible experiences where I was in a relationship and I needed to break up with them and they just wouldn't let me! I'd try to break up with them when we were at my apartment or their apartment or someplace private and they wouldn't let me leave. Then they'd break down into tears, and then I'd comfort them. Just emotional manipulation. And it's not okay, and it's hard to draw boundaries especially when you care about somebody. Are they being emotionally manipulative? Are they being vulnerable? How much of an asshole should I be in this situation? Ultimately, for everybody, it's better just to be the asshole.

Commentarium (16 Comments)

Jan 20 11 - 12:21pm

"A lot of people don't live their dreams so they get buried with them. As a result, cemeteries are full of life and dreams. They're very erotic."


Jan 20 11 - 1:18pm

you guys need to diversify. these people are kind of boring. how do you never, ever talk to any lesbians? that's where the good stuff is.

Jan 20 11 - 2:48pm

Jena seems a little messed up in the head, Maya is spouting material from your basic college relationship primer, Kip and Willie seem like goobers, and everyone is varying levels of boring. That's two weeks in a row now.

Jan 20 11 - 3:11pm

all comedians are messed up, I didn't know anyone would actually read this... and Nancy, you edited out the part about how I don't like men who hit women (other than me) ... WTF! : )

Jan 20 11 - 3:38pm

Not a great batch this time.

Jan 20 11 - 4:50pm

I'm strangely attracted to Ashley's glasses and *huge* earrings. And I shouldn't be because they are absolutely hideous.

Jan 20 11 - 8:41pm

talking to strangers: the preschool edition!

Jan 21 11 - 12:26am

No chance that Ashley is 25.

Jan 21 11 - 10:33pm

More ethnic diversity. PLEASE.

Jan 23 11 - 3:19am

What College does Maya go to? It's too late for me but if I ever have kids I'm sending them there! (unless I have a daughter, then no way)

Jan 23 11 - 2:42pm

Boring. The comedian is trying too hard to be clever. The cemetery comment makes absolutely no sense.

Jan 23 11 - 8:14pm

completely agree w/@johnlennon. this is pretty lame for ny.

Jan 27 11 - 2:20pm
Jj Abrams

Where in NYC do you go looking for people? Time to hit up Brooklyn

Mar 03 11 - 7:08am


May 02 11 - 4:34pm
also from great neck

maya--david phillips? he would.