Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Leslie, 40

Are you from New York originally?
No, I'm a native Texan, actually.

How did you find the experience of dating in New York compared to Texas?
I actually didn't start dating women until I moved here. So it was sort of a process for me, until I felt comfortable with myself and confiding in other people and meeting other women as friends who could sort of guide me. It wasn't easy. This [Cubbyhole, a gay bar in the West Village] was actually one of the first places I came to and I really love this place a lot now. Every time I come here I think about the first time I came here and I was petrified, but it actually is a really lovely place. It's very friendly and nobody ever needs to be scared to come here and meet people — gay, straight, or whatever. It's just a really friendly group.

What's experience of dating men like as opposed to dating women?
Well, I haven't dated men in probably almost twenty years. It's a very different experience. I think, gay or straight, men and women are completely different creatures. We're the same species, but we operate differently. So being with a woman is sort of like dating yourself in a sense. For me, it's what I like.

What's the best date you've ever been on?
It was very simple. We met online. We both hesitated to meet. We just met for appetizers and drinks, and neither one of us really drank because we were afraid to blow it. But we just had the best time, even without alcohol, which is very surprising. It didn't end up lasting, but it kind of gave me some hope for the online-dating thing.

What happened to her?
We found out that we didn't really have that much in common. It was probably more of a physical thing. But we're still in touch and friends. So as far as an actual date, it was a very positive experience.

What about the worst date you've ever been on?
It was actually set up through a friend. We met on a Sunday for brunch and she was almost forty-five minutes late, and no calls, no texts. I'd almost decided to leave, and she just showed up and never cracked a smile and wouldn't even look me in the eye. The place that we went to happened to be really horrible, too. So overall, it was probably the worst date I ever had. But after that I went and saw a really funny movie to cheer myself up.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
I do. I haven't experienced that yet, but I feel like in my gut that's probably more my style and the way it might hopefully happen for me soon. I think at this point in life, you just know through experience what things and why things don't work. For me, there has to be an immediate physical attraction, and that determines any further interest in a possible relationship.

Phil, 26

What do you do, Phil?
I'm a piano player.

Does that get you any interesting dates?
I've been in a relationship for two plus years.

How did you meet your girlfriend?
In college, at a bar. One of those wonderful things that just happens. I knew of her and we just met through friends and then we met afterward. In college it just kind of happens.

How do you keep it interesting?
I don't know, we're both just really fuckin' hot. She's like this super fuckin' sex bomb. I think one of the important things is, a lot of people who like to go out and be drunk and get down and have a good time, when they get in a relationship, they stop. But we both work nights — I'm a piano player, she's a bartender — so we're always at it. It in no way inhibits our lifestyle. We consistently do what we want to do, and it makes us really sexy young people. Right on.

Do you guys live together?
Yes, we do. Living together's great. We live in a studio apartment. The only reason I sometimes want to have another bedroom is because I get up earlier sometimes and I feel bad about waking her up. But other than that, it's fine. I love it. I love living together. It's great. I really have had no real problems at all.

What's the best date you've ever been on?
Valentine's Day last year, me and my girlfriend took some mushrooms and went to the Prospect Park Zoo and watched the sea lions play, and it was fuckin' awesome. But when you're coming down from mushrooms, you think you're all right, and you're like, man, that shit wasn't that strong at all! We're fine! And then all of a sudden you get on the subway and people are asking you for money and you're like, oh my God. Anyway, we got on the train, and we're like, "What train are we on?" We're on the D train, we're just coming from the zoo, okay. And I look at the map and I see "Rockefeller Center," and I'm like, let's go to the top of Rockefeller Center! So we did. And she had never been to the top of a tall building before, so this was a big deal. It's less like going onto an airplane than it is like going onto a spaceship. I think that was the best date I've ever been on.

Jackie, 43

What do you do?
I'm a bartender.

Has that ever gotten you an interesting date?
Yeah, I got my baby-daddy [laughs]. I got two kids via a bar. Yep, absolutely. I was working at a karaoke bar on 2nd Avenue, and he was a friend of the owner. The owner was Irish and his friend had just arrived from Dublin, and we met at the bar.

And then what happened?
It took me six months to track him down. He's an electrician and he was living out in Queens, and I was living in Manhattan. Every time he would come out I would just get so excited. I had a couple of lame attempts to try to get to bed with him, you know — I pretended I didn't know how to put my air conditioner in the window. And he came and did that for me. But finally, I called him and he came into the city from Queens. We had a few beers, and I lived upstairs from the bar, so we just kind of went home. And he never left.

How long have you been together now?
Nine years. We've got two kids.

How do you keep it interesting?
Actually, right now, we don't. We went on vacation to St. Lucia about six years ago. We had a good time, but it wasn't the same without our daughter, so we came back and we swore we would never, ever go on vacation again without our child. I am engaged, and I have been for a while, but with him working and me working, we just haven't had time to get married. I know it sounds crazy — it's like putting the cart before the horse, because we had the kids first. But now that my daughter's seven — she's in second grade — it's something I want to do, because the kids think my last name's the same as theirs, and it ain't.

What do you love about your significant other now?
I love the father that he is. He's a wonderful dad. And that means the world to me. The fact that he loves his children and he respects our life, that's huge. Don't get me wrong, he ain't perfect. We fight all the time, but I love that he loves his family.

Jason, 24

What's the worst date you've ever been on?
One date was pretty terrible, actually. Terrible, terrible me — I'm a terrible person. I had a girlfriend, but I met this girl in Times Square and we really hit it off, so we went to go get something to eat. I was supposed to meet my girlfriend and, uh, didn't meet her. And later that night, I was with the girl I had met in Times Square on the train and who shows up at the same platform? None other than my girlfriend. Ladies, I'm a much better man now. That happened years ago. I've learned from my mistakes.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get laid?
I never really do anything crazy. I lay down the charm all the time and I see where the ball rolls, really. That's how it goes. I always try to introduce myself with something funny. I just go off the cuff, really. I don't like to play a game or anything like that.

How do you find the dating scene in New York?
When you're in New York, everyone's on the move. It's adequate, I would say. How far can you get being yourself in New York?

What is your favorite sexual position?
Standing up doggy, against the wall. It's just better than doggy on the bed on the knees. And I can see a lot more that way. Especially if there's a mirror. Ooh! I just came right now, actually, just thinking about it. I just came. Twice.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
No. I've offended myself, but that really wasn't my choice. My — uh, yeah [gestures southward] — thinks for himself. He does what he wants, when he wants. Especially if there's liquor involved. So I have no control. I can only know what I want to do and then there's what he wants to do. But let's say we're in the midst of doing what we both want to do and he decides, nah, I don't wanna do it no more, there's really nothing I can do!

Sarah, 26

What do you do?
I work at Morgan Stanley. I'm an expense auditor.

Does that get you any interesting dates?
I was asked out by an employee at the same company. He asked me out a couple of times, and each time when the date would come, he would tell me that he couldn't go. It turns out he was married with a child. So I was like, thank God it never panned out, because I would have probably run in the other direction the minute I found out. I stopped responding to any phone calls. It was awful — I was very offended by that. No other dates from work, though.

What are you looking for? What's your type?
I know what I don't want in people. But I'm very drawn to people who are not the center of attention and have a lot of respect for their families and for other people and who are nice. That's basically it.

What are you not looking for?
Low self-confidence, and people who try to be someone they're not. 

You're from upstate. How's the dating scene in New York different?
Everyone is very independent. It's very much, like, all about me, all about you. I think everyone's down here — especially young people — is down here looking for their job, for a foundation for themselves. A lot of people in my hometown are married now or have children. The city is very, very different. But I enjoy it. I've gone on lots of dates with people since I've moved here. Nothing has ever really materialized, but that's fine, too. I love being single.

What's the worst date you've ever been on?
A couple of summers ago I randomly met a guy on the bus back to my apartment — I live in Hoboken. And we were chatting and he was really, really nice and before I got off the bus he was like, "Hey, do you want to go out sometime?" and I said sure. So we went out, and we were talking about our other dating experiences. I was saying how some guy once in a really creepy way asked if he could kiss me. And so the guy I was on a date with thought that I wanted him to just take me and kiss me, and all of a sudden he was like a bear. He tried to eat my face! He started biting my lip and my mouth, and I was like, "What are you doing to me right now?" I told him I had to leave.

What about the best date you've ever been on?
I don't think I have a best date I've ever been on, but I have a favorite first kiss. It was this guy I went out with last year. He was super-shy. And it kind of made me feel more confident, because he was like shaking in his boots the whole time. He walked me back to my apartment, and we were standing outside of my apartment and he was telling me what a nice time he had and we kissed and it wasn't like a drunken makeout, it was just like a kiss and he laughed and I laughed and he hugged me and he went home. It was really cute. I told him six months later, that was the nicest first kiss I've ever had in my life.

Amir, 27

How is dating in New York different than Israel? 
I don't know — I haven't started yet! My friends say it's much more difficult to take Israeli girls on a first date. Girls here are easier, is what I hear. Everybody says there are too many girls here for the amount of guys here, so it's much easier.

What's the best date you've ever been on?
Ila. She was amazing. She twisted my head, I guess. She was smarter than me.

How did you meet her?
Through a friend. We were together three months, but I had to go to New York.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
I have no idea. Wait. Yes. Because I fell in love with a girl I met the second I met her and I'm going to love her forever. She was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. We met in Berlin, by accident. We slept together the first night we met. I met her through the girl whose house I was crashing at. The girl we were staying with told my friend and I that someone she knew was going to come to her apartment, and so we went out. We were out all day long in the city. And then we came back at five o'clock, and she was standing there in the living room. Both my friend and I were standing there like two stupid guys who can't speak. Like, drooling. He started talking, but I couldn't talk for an hour.

Yeah. Then we just started drinking, and by the end of the night she and I went out, but we didn't know where we were sleeping at. We had no idea where we were supposed to go back to because we didn't know the address. So we didn't get back home that night. We slept on the street. It was really cool.

What ever happened with her?
She came to Israel. I came to Berlin. We still talk, but it's difficult.

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