Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Amy, 32

What do you do?
I'm in sales.

Does that get you a lot of dates?
No, not at all. I don't really socialize with my co-workers because, for the most part, they're older, so we don't go out together.

So where do you meet dates?
At bars!

Do you have any dating stories you want to share?
A really bad one was the first time I ever went on a date with someone I met online. I think it was, like, MySpace or something. It was a really great photo, and he was trendy and cool-looking. It must have been old because he had blond frosted tips. I don't know why I was into that. But when I saw him, he was ten years older. It was not okay — not like the photo. It was horrible. We just didn't get along. That was the end of that.

What's your relationship status now?
Married. It'll be a year next week.

How did you end up meeting your husband?
Through my college roommates. He was my college friend's new roommate. And I used to hang out at their apartment all the time.

So how long did you know each other before you got married?
Four years. [Her friend: "Didn't you go on Blind Date?"] I went on Change of Heart.

Oh, that's a reality show?
That was a bad date! That was a really bad one!

What happened?
I went on a date — they ask you the profile of the guy you want to date. I'm like, "Italian, athletic…" He was Italian. I guess he was athletic — I mean, he wasn't overweight, you know? But he was just so dorky! It was so strange. It was so awkward, because the camera was on you and everything. My friend, however, had a date on Change of Heart with a Hooters girl. He made out fairly well, I guess. [laughs] I was very bitter about it.



Rico, 32

What do you do?
It's more like, "What don't I do?" I was bartending. I had an art show in Park Slope last week, some fashion sculptures that I did. I also do art modeling, and I cut hair, and I sell vintage clothes. I'm in a dance troupe. Just a bunch of different stuff.

What gets you the most dates?
I guess the most dates come from bartending.

So what kind of women are you looking for?
Dating-wise, pretty faces are my weakness, I guess. But then personal style and confidence and awareness, I guess. And being sweet, genuine. I don't like phony people.

Have you had any dating experience with someone like that?
Oh yeah. Tons! It wasn't real.

Do you have any crazy exes?
Yeah, I do. I dated this girl a year ago, and she was really sweet, but she was really flirtatious with everybody when we would go out. So I would tell her, "Look, it's cool. We don't have to be serious, you know? We can still date other people." She'd be like, "No, I don't want to date other people. I've been waiting for you my whole life, and you're the only one I want to date!"

She was hooking up with other people?
No, she was just really flirtatious with everybody, and she would ignore me when we would go out. I'd be like, "This isn't really a relationship to me." But then we'd be together, and she would be all about me. It was just really awkward. She drove me nuts. And then so one time — she knows a lot about different stuff, which is really cool — I was working on some carpentry art at my friend's motorcycle shop. She was going to come help me. So she met me over there and my friend had this big sewing machine, and he didn't know anything about sewing. She was like, "Well, I'll help you out with it." Instead of helping me, she helped my friend out. I was like, "Well, that's cool, but I could really use your help." But she was ignoring me, and being all flirtatious with him. He's a model. Eventually he said something to her like, "Oh, I thought you weren't wearing underwear. I see you are." And she was like, "No, I'm not." And she pulled her shorts open to show him. And this girl wants to be my girlfriend?

It sounds like she wanted attention from anywhere.
Yeah. Maybe. But I think she did genuinely want to be my girlfriend, which was like… it didn't compute.

What do you think of the dating scene in New York?
Honestly, I've never been in an even relationship. Either the other person likes me more than I like them or vice-versa. I don't know; I feel kind of cursed in that way. When I was a kid, when I was in junior high, if a girl liked me and I thought that we weren't going to get married, I wouldn't really pursue anything. For years, I was like that. And then I realized how many great relationships I probably missed out on because of that mentality. So I kind of changed it, but I still haven't been in an even relationship ever. But, it's really nice in New York; I think the girls are, like, five to one to the guys.

I think so too.
And the women are just really incredible in New York. Most of them are thin because you have to walk everywhere. And besides that, they have really cool ideas and style and interests. And there are so many people in New York. It's like the whole universe in one city.



Scott, 21

What do you do?
I study fine art.

Do you get a lot of dates through that?
I have a steady boyfriend of a year and a half.

So how's that going?
Really well. He's really intelligent, and I like that a lot. That's what I look for in a guy, definitely. That rapport is very important.

Is this your first serious relationship?
Yes! I've never had a boyfriend before him. I had a five-year "something." You know, gayness is very odd in small-town America. I had something a while ago, but we were never official. It was on and off. This is the first real relationship I've ever had. We really, really care about each other. It's wonderful.

Where are you from?
Upstate New York. It's very conservative there. It's a different way of life — it's a lot slower, and gayness means something very different in a slower community. I don't know. There aren't many out, gay men in a small community in upstate New York. That's why I came to the city. Although actually, I found my boyfriend upstate. He went to school there.

So you met there, and you moved here?
And then I came to study here, yeah.

When you were dating, what was your dating experience like?
I'm twenty-one, so it was more high-school-related. There wasn't an out, gay community. The people who were out were very promiscuous and kind of shallow, to be honest. I was never really into that scene: "You're gay and I'm gay, so now we have to hook up." That's how it works. And I was never really into that. I'm much more of a relationship guy.

What do you like about the gay scene here?
In New York? I've never actually been a part of it because I've had a boyfriend since I moved here, but I think gay bars are fun. 

That guy that you had an on and off thing with — what was that like?
We were both in a town that was kind of repressed, and what that does to someone at a very young age is kind of interesting. Because we were close but never as friends — only as hookups. So it was a weird situation. And he was very repressed and didn't want to admit that he was gay — that was the biggest thing. He didn't want to come out of the closet because to him that meant social ruin in some way.

Interesting. So do you feel like you were ever closeted?
I didn't really hide it from people. If they asked, I would say something. It was pretty much common knowledge because I was never straight by any means. I never really hung out with the jocks. I was an art nerd from a very young age. That was my thing. I just didn't really care.

Nicole, 19

How old are you?
I'm nineteen.

Are you even allowed to be here? That throws off a lot of my questions… What do you do?
I'm a student.

Do you meet a lot of dates that way?
No, there isn't a large population of straight men at my school.

So where do you end up meeting guys?
It happens as it happens. I just moved here last year. I was meeting people at bars. I didn't really go out seeking it. I'm from Canada.

What's the difference between the dating culture there and here?
No one really takes people out to dinner. It's more like you meet people through your friends and shows, things like that.

Was there any particular reason you chose to come to New York?
Where else are you supposed to go? When you're from a city, and you're trying to move to another city — it's different for some people if they're from a smaller town or, like, a less populated city. I feel like you're moving backwards if you don't move to New York.

Do you have any awesome hookup stories?
I once hooked up with a guy in a Santa suit.

In a Santa suit? What happened?
It was a Christmas party. It was funny. It was a humorous situation. There was laughing.

Do you have any crazy exes?
Yeah. "Ex-whatevers," as I like to call them. Being possessive. Interfering with other things.

What do you think of the dating scene in New York?
I feel like it varies as you go from borough to borough, definitely. There are a lot of people who are really into themselves. As far as that goes, I'm not really interested. I mean, I have yet to meet someone who seems down-to-earth in the city. But I don't get out that much. I tend to stay home a lot.

So what kind of guy are you looking for?
A really tall one who likes music and knows about cool things on the interwebs.

That's kind of everyone in New York. Anything more specific? Do you have any kind of type?
No one who takes themselves too seriously at all. I think it's important to have things in common with each other. I think I could date someone who was doing something completely different from what I was, but there has to be a common interest. Go see the same bands, go to the same museums together. Even if you're not into the same aesthetic, at least you could have a conversation about it and debate about it — not get offended by the other person's point of view. That's just the way to go about it.



Meriwether, 19

What do you do?
I'm an art student.

What's your dating experience been like so far in New York?
I've seen a few guys really casually. Nothing relationship-wise. Some randoms. Then also some people that — we pursued each other but never wanted to be in a relationship because that wasn't how we were feeling. 

Do you have any fun hookup stories?
There was a crazy — well, not crazy — but really bizarre male model who came out of my room in the morning wearing nothing but my floral sheet and waltzed around the apartment really dramatically. I was like, "Oh God. What happened? Why are you doing this in my apartment? I have to go to class!"

How did you meet this dude?
At a bar. He was really cool and interesting. I wasn't so much physically attracted to him, but he was interesting enough and pursuing, so I was like, "Why not?" I was really casual. It was fine. He's cool.

Do you have a type that you go for?
Looks-wise, brown hair and scruffy and bearded. And other than that, usually people with a good sense of humor. They have to like cats. That's very important. 

Do you have cats?
Yes, I have two.

Do you worry about becoming a cat lady?
I already am a cat lady. It's too late. I'm really far down that path.

Do you have any dealbreakers?
Assholes. And yet somehow I end up with them. In general, I would hope that someone is, like, the kind asshole. Kind to me but an asshole when it's necessary.

So what's your impression of the dating scene in New York?
It's been interesting. There's no one I've wanted a formal relationship with. But I've met some interesting people, some nice guys. I haven't been hit on in a little while, so that's sad. I prefer Los Angeles, where I'm from. I've met more eligible guys there.

So what's the difference between L.A. guys and New York guys?
I don't know exactly. I just find that people here are really consumed, wrapped up in a lot of their own stuff — which is fine, but I find in Los Angeles I meet people that are a lot more relaxed. It's a lot more chilled out in California.

I'm thinking it's a cultural thing. It's so much slower there.
I've had more luck in Los Angeles meeting guys that I would be more interested in formally — a courtship relationship kind of a thing. Whereas here, it's kind of casual and fun and crazy. And weird. Really weird.

Did you have any relationships back in L.A.?
Yeah, I dated someone for a while, a couple of years. He was a psycho, cheater asshole. He fucked everyone. So that ended poorly. But it's okay. I've moved on from that.



Dr. Timmy, 54

What do you do?
I'm in music.

What have your dating experiences been like?
Don't date Russian women!

Why's that?
They're all beautiful and complicated.

Complicated how?
I've been in touch with two Russian girls recently. One of them I took great pains to get to know — it was from the club scene — and I had to make sure that her Russian male friends wouldn't kick my ass. She looked Korean or something. Beautiful girl. [Shows a photo.]

Yeah, she's pretty hot. How old is she?
Maybe twenty-four. I don't know. Drugs were involved, obviously.

Which drugs?
In my case, ecstasy. I don't know what she was doing.

So you're dating her?
No! True story. We were at this party. I had to be sure — these are Russian guys; I don't need some guy kicking my ass. There are a whole number of Russian guys selling drugs at these parties: mushrooms, ecstasy, acid, whatever. We knew each other, but it was hard to talk. It was louder than this goddamn party. How can you have a conversation? You can't. So we go to the rooftop next to the party. We start chatting. I thought that this guy who she was with was her boyfriend. Very nice guy, by the way, but I'm not going to hit on his girlfriend when he's there; that's really bad taste. So we get to chat a little. I'm like, "Well, we should get together." I'm busy; I work a fifty-five-hour work week. Ten days go by. I look her up on Facebook — she's married!

Married! And it's not even the same guy that I thought was her boyfriend! It's some guy I never even saw before.

Maybe it's a green-card marriage?
I thought so, except for one thing. If you look on Facebook, everyone's dressed to the nines in their wedding reception photos. They all look sexy and hot. Everybody looks so happy. Their friends are there. It's this close couple. You can't fake this shit; this is no green-card marriage. So what the fuck? Ten lousy days go by, all I'm trying to do is get her to go out to dinner with me so I don't have to scream over a DJ like tonight, all of a sudden I look up and she's fucking married! And I've never seen the guy in my life. It's like, "Who the fuck is this guy?"

So what's the last relationship experience you had?
That would be called "divorce." Six years in a relationship. My ex was Japanese. We got married in Japan, civil ceremony. Three years later, the marriage was over.

So what happened?
Your guess is as good as mine. Dual income, no kids, fifty grand in the bank, saving up for the co-op or the condo. Life didn't suck. You think you know someone after six years. She went back to Japan twice. The green card, that was my choice. We moved out to Queens; we were living the American dream. It just kind of fell apart.

Maybe she wanted kids.
That was negotiable. We were talking about it. I wasn't anti-kids… I was forty-one when I met her. She was nineteen. When we met, we were both bonked out of our heads at four o'clock in the morning at a psytrance party. I was totally faithful; I didn't sleep with any other women, I didn't date anybody, nothing.

So are you a relationship person or more of a casual-dating person?
I'm not a casual-sex person, no. Which doesn't mean I haven't done a few things in my life, but I can count that on one hand.

Do you still believe in marriage and long-term relationships?
I'm cynical about most things these days. I'm a survivor. But I want to believe. In my heart, I'm a romantic. Which doesn't mean that I'm not a male and I don't want to sleep with everything that walks by me every five minutes.

Did anyone ever surprise you in bed with an odd request?
I'm not easily shocked. I've never had a request that I've said, "I can't go there" — yet. Some girl I said once, "You can put your boots on and walk on my back." After two minutes, I said, "This is the stupidest shit I've ever experienced. This hurts. This is dumb." If you're into S&M, that's fine, but it's not me.

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