Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Siobhan, 24

What do you do?
I am an actress, writer, and activist.

Does that ever get you some interesting dates?
Yeah, I actually have a date right now! He's here!

How did you meet?
We're both nannies. He's a manny. A male babysitter. This is actually our first official date, which I'm kind of nervous about, because I just performed this piece about not shaving. But he wants to go out for a drink now, so I'm pretty he's okay with the fact that I don't shave. I was talking to my friend from Canada this morning and I was like, "Dude, do you think this is a bad idea for a first date, to invite him to see my performance about, you know, being hairy?" But I figured that way I'd know right away. I wanted to get someone who has the same politics that I do, so I can actually have a good date.

Have you gone out with anyone who hasn't shared your politics, without knowing it at first?
I dated somebody for like seven months where we had fun and good conversations but, I was a vegetarian at the time, and he was like, "If you go vegan, I don't want to be with you." So I'm vegan now, because fuck that, right? I decided after dating loads of guys like that that I should cut all the crap and find someone who has good core values.

Has anyone been bothered by your not shaving?
Actually, kind of the point of the piece, is that no, nothing like that has ever happened. I think we're sort of trained that we have to look a certain way. But, my piece is about hooking up with a total party bro, and he didn't care. Maybe because it's just like sometimes guys are like, "Nothing's going to stop me!" But I think really, if you're confident in your body and you stand by your decisions about who you are, people actually respect that. They find that kind of sexy. So I've never had a problem.

What are some of your own dealbreakers, personality-wise?
I'm obviously a feminist who has hairy armpits, so I need somebody who's pretty radical, right? I need somebody who has good politics and who can really appreciate art and music and things like that. That's why the hairy-armpits thing is really important to me — it equals so many things. You know this is a woman who has a lot of opinions, who really commits to her decisions, and so you have to be able to handle that, right?

Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. I think love has so many other components to it. I've gotten really interested in people who I at first didn't find attractive. I grew to know them and appreciate their personalities so much that it didn't matter.

Can you tell a story about when that happened?
This guy, he's a poet, and he's really an amazing person. He just can't really commit, which is the problem. He's kind of overweight and geeky and has glasses and is kind of shy, but he's very smart and witty, and he's taken the time to know me and really appreciates me. There's all that respect and value involved. As I spent time with him, I was just like, "Oh, I never felt that physically attracted to him, but now I have these feelings for him." That was something that grew over time.

Steve, 26

What do you do?
I'm a standup comedian and a waiter.

Does that get you any interesting dates?
Standup comedy really cuts down on dating. In New York, every girl has dated a comedian, and comedians are idiots. And drunks. So that's not really the best thing. But as a waiter, it happens. I've had interesting dates. I've dated girls who I've served on bad dates. Like they went on a bad date and I dated them after, but I didn't tell them that I remembered them from serving them on a bad date.

What happened?
Those never go that far. But it's always interesting. You see them interact with another man and then when you're on a date with them you're like, "Okay, he was just fucking up."

What do you notice men do when they mess up?
Talking too much about themselves, or just not talking at all, not giving conversation, not interacting that much. As a server, you notice a good date is when both people are laughing, they're looking at each other, there's good body language. A bad date is when everyone's quiet, the dude isn't giving you any eye contact, and the lady is ordering for herself, and you talk to the lady mostly.

What's a really good date you've been on recently?
I met a girl online during the summertime and she came to my neighborhood. We went to a bar, went to go see Smith Westerns at Prospect Park. Everything was amazing. I thought that was a great date. She enjoyed herself — for a first date there was a lot of intimate touching. But then it didn't go anywhere.

Why? What happened?
I don't know. The second date didn't happen. I guess I didn't push as hard as I should have for a second date. We scheduled it and then I called her, and she said she was tired and she was going home. I don't know. Our first date was amazing. She was gorgeous, and there was a lot of talking. If you can get a girl to walk from a bar to Prospect Park in heels, that means she really likes you.

What about a really bad date?
I had one recently. I'm a waiter and I freelance. Funds were a little low. I told the lady this, and I was going to reschedule the date because things didn't happen the way they were supposed to, money-wise. But my friend owns a bar, and they were having their one-year anniversary, so there were free cocktails. Perfect date time. The date should have been over after that, but no, she was hungry and she wanted to go out and eat. We went somewhere to eat, and I was like, "I'm not hungry," but she ordered a lot of stuff, and when the bill came she expected me to pay for all of it, when I basically nibbled. The next day I saw her and she was mad because she'd paid the bill, and I was like, "But I wasn't hungry. You said you were hungry, you should pay for your own food." It's not like we both were eating. She made it seem like I was trying to make her into a sugar mama.

Have you ever had a sugar mama?
Yes, I have. It's uncomfortable, though.

How did that happen?
I was working at a wine bar and she came in after my shift. She was forty-seven, an art director. After my shift was over, I sat down and started talking to her. And she bought dinner, and we drank or whatever, and after that she bought me my first iPhone, a laptop. But she was really controlling. Financially, she wore the pants, so I had to do anything and everything. I had to go places she wanted me to go to and deal with uppity people who made way more money than I do and talked about finance all the time.

Do you think it's something you would do again?
No. One day I came from pulling a double shift and went over to her place and I thought we could just chill or whatever. I fell asleep because I was really tired. Then I woke up to her pacing back and forth angrily, and she told me that I didn't come over to sleep. You can't tell a sugar mama that you're tired and you don't want to have sex.

Colleen, 30

How did you meet your boyfriend?
Through my ex-boyfriend! I've never in my life dated a friend of a friend, or a friend of an ex, ever ever ever. This is like totally weird. My ex boyfriend I actually met on the subway. In a two-minute ride we exchanged cards. After we broke up, we became really good friends, and he brought my boyfriend to a party, and that was that.

How long have you guys been together?
We've been together a year and a half. We got engaged for six months and then called the wedding off. We just went crazy. But we're fine. We're just dating, we live together, and that's it.

Do you ever get bored not being single?
I think it's really hard and I think he does too. My boyfriend and I are really good single people. We're really good at dating, really good at meeting people. We're both huge flirts, so it's hard to balance the jealousy thing, because we both still flirt a lot. You always secretly want to date. The grass is always greener on the other side, you know? But then you're happy you have a boyfriend and you're like, "I'm going to give up flirting." Then you're out one night and a hot guy talks to you, and you're like, "Fuck."

What are the other things you miss about being single?
There was something different all the time. You're constantly changing it up, meeting different people. And this is so selfish, but I miss the attention. I'm thirty and I've been friends with guys my whole life, so now even if I meet a guy at a bar who I think is cool and I want to be friends, it's kind of impossible. Like, they really all just want to have sex. I'm having a harder time making male friends because they're just like, "Oh, you have a boyfriend. All right, bye." Even though I'm awesome and they didn't stay around to figure out my personality's awesome.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
One time I was hooking up with this guy, and I'd been hooking up with him for a while, but he was never… I don't know, we just always had the same exact routine. And then one day he decided to do three things at one time, basically, out of nowhere. But as he went to do it, he went, "Trifecta!" He sounded like Napoleon Dynamite. I couldn't believe it. I was like, "What the hell was that?" It was such a turnoff, and I was like, "Stop touching me." He finally did something cool, and he fuckin' said "Trifecta!" before it.

What was one of the dates you went on with your current boyfriend when you were realized it might go somewhere?
He was a really good dater. Our first date was pretty awesome. He always had like seven things planned in a night. So we went to this place for dinner in the West Village, then we went to a Yeasayer concert after that, then we went to a tequila den after that. He just kept the night going and we did a lot of cultural things. Even my ex before him, we always were having champagne at sunset on the rooftop of the Met and just doing different cool things.

Do you have any crazy exes?
I had an ex who lived with me for four years and broke up with me with a Post-It note on my refrigerator. When I came home, he'd actually gone back to Montana. There was a Post-It note, and it said, "Maybe love will be enough next time." And I literally never talked to him again. He cut me off from the phone, email, everything, after four years.

Will, 26

How do you usually get a date? 
I go out with a group of friends. Their friends are friends with my friends, and it usually works into something. I had one friend… well, you can ask another question.

No, tell the story!
My latest sexual experience?

Of course!
Okay, well, I'm originally from Buffalo. I'm in close contact with a lot of my friends back home. So my friend Ryan said, "I have a girl, and she wants to hook up with you." And I'm like, "Oh, okay!" A cup of coffee, a walk through the park — we didn't really go into detail about what she wanted. So when I went home for Thanksgiving break, we all went out, and the girl doesn't say anything to me all night! We're drinking, we're having a good time, she doesn't say anything to me all night. And then close comes around and she's like, "Oh, you want to go home?" So we went back and had a great night-slash-morning.

I was just staying with my parents and I didn't have a car or anything, so she gave me a ride home. I actually wanted to get to know a little bit about her, since we'd had sex all night. I said, "So what do your parents do?" And she's just like, "Oh, one's an engineer, the other one works at a community center." That was it. She wouldn't ask me about my parents or anything. It's like she didn't want to know anything about me at all.

How did that make you feel?
Well, it is what it is. That's all she wanted — she didn't want to get to know me at all. Which is funny, me saying that, because in college, I was that person. And now I think I'm over that, you know? I want a girlfriend eventually. Not her, but it was just funny, someone treating me like that.

What was the last good date you went on?
It was good and it was heartbreaking at the same time.

Why was it heartbreaking?
Because it didn't go anywhere and I really liked her. I took her to this place called Peasant and it went really well. We walked all through the city, had a great talk. It was a nice night. But I didn't do enough of the touching, the intimate stuff. I was trying to play it cool, and I was being too nice of a guy, so I came off as a friend.

Oh, the friend zone.
Which is all counteracting life in college, when I was a total douchebag. It worked, but I was a douchebag, you know what I mean? I'm trying to be like this super-nice guy now, and now I'm too nice.

So other than the body-language thing…
Walking down the street, you can get eye contact. Even when I'm driving, I'll be at a light, a girl will be waiting to cross, and we'll have that cool eye contact thing, and it's like, "Oh my god, you could be the love of my life. Should I roll down the window? Or — wait, I'm going to look really weird." And it just passes you by. I feel like I've fallen in love like 5,000 times since I've been here, just with a look.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Hell yeah, man! The feeling of the first sight will carry you through the weird getting-to-know-each-other stage. It either carries you through and you learn about the person and it works out, or the love-at-first-sight thing only gets you so far and then you're screwed. Usually instant attraction can carry you far enough to where it gives you enough drive to actually meet the person.

When was the last time you fell in love? 
That I fell in love? It would have to be my senior year of high school. I was a weirdo in high school and just walked around by myself, so I never really talked to any girls. I found this one and I didn't care what she wore, I didn't care how her hair was or anything. I just liked her. I just liked her attitude towards everything, how she dealt with stuff, how she carried herself. And then we both went to different colleges, and it broke up, but I absolutely loved her. I haven't had that feeling since then.

Meagan, 21

What's a really good date you've been on?
One of the best dates I've ever been on was on Valentine's Day. This guy just randomly asked me out, and I was like "Sure, I'm not doing anything 'cause I'm a fucking loser."

No, you're not!
But I figured, it's better than staying at home by myself — I get to be one of the people! So he took me to Central Park. He knew the back roads of the woods in Central Park, so he was helping me climb down the rocks and over these tree branches, and then we got to the lake and it was frozen. We were just skating on the frozen ice in our shoes. The stars were out and you could see the lights of the city over the frozen lake. I was scared that the ice might crack, but at the same time it was fucking beautiful. Everything was so surreal — it was like Valentine's Day and we were really skating. Think about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, just like going across the frozen Charles holding hands and looking at constellations. It was basically like that. So nice. But in the end I stopped talking to him.

What happened with him?
He was such a broken package. He had parental issues. I hate when women are treated like they're babysitters. They should be girlfriends or like, "That's my woman," not my mom or my babysitter. But that's how I felt with him. And I was like, "You're not worth babysitting." This past year I've been talking to a few guys, and what really gets me to keep wanting to see them is someone who keeps me on my toes — someone I can learn more and more about, who doesn't end up being predictable or anything. I have this commitment problem.

Me too.
But I'm young, so I'm not looking for a relationship anyway.

Have you met any guys who've really pushed you like that?
I met this guy online and we decided to meet up. He was a teacher, but he had this really intense carnal side. In bed, he was crazy dominating and kinky.

Tell me more.
I can just say that I've done with him for the first time that I didn't think I would ever do. Things that you really only see on porn websites, where you're just like, "Oh, look at what he's doing to her, that's funny" — and it happened to me. Anyway, it was fun and it was definitely an experience. I was totally into trying new things. But then he started asking me to do things outside of the bedroom. He was like, "Oh, we should go see the High Line, or go see The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And we can get all dressed up like they do…" and I was like, "Okay…" The last time I saw him, it was building up. He was doing work for school and he was like, "You don't have to leave. You can stay if you want — watch me do my work," and I was like, "Um, I'm gonna leave." And then I never… came back. I know it's sad. It's really bitchy of me, but you do what you've got to do.

Other than the kinky stuff, has anyone ever done anything that's offended you in the bedroom?
With him, he slapped me in the face, but as role-play, and the first time I was like, "Oh, this is funny." But then the last time we had sex, I really wasn't into it, so when he slapped me, I was like, "Oh my God, if you slap me one more time…" I really wasn't into it. You have to be in it together — otherwise he's just slapping me in the face and it's rude!

Michael, 25

What do you do, or how do you most like to spend your time?
I'm a bartender and I spend my time drinking.

Does that get you any interesting dates?
Most recently I've begun dating a married woman. She's in her mid-thirties, I'm in my mid-twenties. I wait for her husband to leave. I wait around the corner, and when the husband leaves, I go in.

How did you meet her?
At a bar. I was working. Oddly, most women… I find it easy to hook up with girls when they're over thirty-five. I think they're running out of options or something.

Does it bother you to date someone who's married?
Not so much. If they were happily married or pseudo-happily married I'd be worried, but she if she says she's unhappy, that's good enough for me. I don't really care very much. Does that make me a bad person? I'm a bad person, right?

How do you find New York is different dating-wise than where you're from originally?
In Arizona all the girls shave their vaginas. In New York that's not always true.

Is that disappointing to you? 
To me, yeah. It's kind of a letdown. I wish the girls out here would get on the boat. Dating is kind of the same though. Although I will say in New York, I find that going dutch is considered more reasonable than it is in Arizona, where I think the girls want to know how much money you have or if you have money. I didn't do all that much dating in Arizona because I don't have any money.

Do you have a type?
I don't have a type, no. I go through phases, as most men do. My ex was very beautiful but had kind of a flat chest, so now I'm on this boob thing, you know? Three exes ago, she had huge boobs and I was on an ass thing. You always want what you don't have. I feel like most guys are always looking for something better.

Has anyone ever done anything in the bedroom to offend you?
Well, I've found that a lot of older women like to — not to get vulgar, but this is actually a fact of mine that I've learned. If they're over thirty-seven, they'll always try to play with your ass. Older women always do that. That's not my thing. I wouldn't say I've been offended, but that's one of those weird things that I've always noticed about older women. In New York, everyone's so goddamned open about their sexuality, it's hard to offend someone. You couldn't offend me.

What are some of your dealbreakers, then?
I find my dealbreakers get bigger and bigger every year, as I get a little older. I remember when I was twenty-one, I had no dealbreakers. But now it's like, yeah, I can deal with bullshit conversation in a bar for maybe thirty minutes. It used be like three hours. It's like it's a half hour less every year or something like that. On the other hand, when you're drunk, you just forget about all the dealbreakers. In the morning, you'll think of a whole lot of them. I sound gross right now.

How about any crazy ex stories?
My most recent ex is absolutely a crazy ex story. We were living together, and she was stealing all my shit. She kicked me out of the apartment. So I broke into the apartment one day. This actually makes me the crazy one but she stole my shit too, so I think we're both kind of crazy. But I ended up breaking through the chain lock with a screwdriver — I unscrewed it and then stole all my stuff back, and then rescrewed in the chain lock so she would never know that I was in there in the first place. Every ex story ends in something crazy.

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