Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: San Francisco

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Tarah, 25

What do you do to pay your bills?
I am a personal trainer — basically I make people look and feel more awesome.

Is that a good way to meet dating prospects?
I haven't been training for long enough to get any offers, but being in a gym all the time I do hope to increase the number of hot and active guys I meet. I'll be crossing my fingers.

Where have you met interesting guys?
I'd have to go with meeting a guy at the rock-climbing gym. Essentially I met this guy right before I went up a wall. Little did I know that as I was trying to get from one hold to another I would lose my grip and go face first into the wall, totally knocking my nose into the artificial mountain.

That sounds painful. Did the guy see it?
Yeah, he saw the whole thing and I had to excuse myself to get ice. It was embarrassing and memorable.

Did anything come of you and the guy?
Oh yeah. We dated for a few months.

Do you have any crazy exes?
Yeah. I've had exes who just seem to show up at places I'm at with really weak excuses. I've also had an ex fly across the state to try and win me back.

You didn't find that romantic and endearing?
Well, I might have if it had been a normal breakup, but essentially I had packed up all my belongings while he was out of the house and fled the city without giving him my new address, so having him appear was super-creepy and very stalkerish.

Do you have any dating dealbreakers?
Telling me that they have a girlfriend.

But what if they're "the one?" Do think there is a "the one?"
No! There are multiple ones that you could be compatible with depending on the time and place.

Since you're in the gay Mecca, would you ever date a girl?
I've gone on a date with a girl but I was dating a guy at the time and it was more like the girl I was with thought of it as a date and I just thought we were hanging out. But I could almost date a girl, maybe. I mean, girls are pretty and hot and I like softness and boobs. You never know.

Are there are any first date tips you have for men looking to date you?
I would say have some of the chivalry — you know pulling out chairs and taking the coat and what have you. Oh, and also keep the discussions of bodily functions to a minimum.

Does that come up a lot in your dating?
It's San Francisco. People talk about everything. The exception I allow would be talking about crazy people who poop on the sidewalk — cause that conversation really can bring people together. We've all seen it and it's always funny in retrospect.


Mitch, 30

What's the dating scene like in San Francisco?
It's tough. I've dated girls in other countries, and dating in Europe is easier. The women I met overseas were just more outgoing and honest.

Do you think dating is easier for women here?
Yeah. I've noticed that women my age in the city have slept with more people than some guys, because it's just easier.

Well, I went out with this girl I like. I bought dinner, we had a great night. Then she comes back to my place and when I try to make out with her she admits that she is a lesbian and wanted to use me for a photography assignment.

What about good dates?
When MySpace first came out, I met a girl who was really attractive and she messaged me that she liked the same books as me and we decided to go on a date at the beach. Slowly, the stroll on the beach turned into this game of chicken where we walked straight toward the water rather than along the edge. It turns out neither of us were chickens and we walked, fully clothed into the ocean.

How cold was it?
Too cold. We didn't even end up making out because it was too freezing, but we did end up going out for a while after that.

Has a women ever insulted you in the bedroom?
I slept with my old boss just before I moved to San Francisco. We'd been having sex for what I thought was a normal, reasonable amount of time, and she asked, "Are you finished yet?" I was insulted but apparently she was one of those women that comes pretty easily.

That's a bit awkward.
What made it more weird was that she said she was tired and I could just turn her over in the night if I wanted to finish.

Do you have any dealbreakers?
Girls who order really garlicky dishes or weird foods. Maybe I'm insecure, but it just makes it seem like they don't want anything to happen later.

It sounds like this has happened.
There was a girl I was kissing and I could taste McDonald's on her breath and I lost interest.

Is there anything you do to prep for a first date?
Three Viagras. No, just kidding. I like to do something I enjoy so that I curb nervousness and get in a good mood.


Lianne, 26

How long have been dating in the city?
Oh, about three years.

Has there been more long-term or short-term dating?
I guess more short-term.

How would you sum up dating in the city for you?
Exciting and alcohol-laden.

That sounds hot.
Most of my relationships have been based on an adrenaline rush. This is definitely a dating scene where most people are all about experimentation and being open-minded about the different people you meet.

So are you dating guys or girls or both?
Both, and some people in between.

Yeah, I went out with a trans guy. We went out for breakfast and early on he told me about his hormone therapy. And how all he does is eat and jack off, and that he is an alcoholic. And then asked me out on a second date. Which I had to decline, of course.

Interesting. How do you turn down people who ask you out?
It's hard. I get a fair number of ambitious but fugly girls who go up and risk the rejection by asking me out, but my friend and I have a code that we use to help swoop the other away before we get trapped by someone trying to ask one of us out.

Do you think it's easier dating girls in San Francisco?
I think it's harder since there are so many more single guys in the city. Not only is the pool smaller with the gay girls, but it's very incestuous. So you have to be careful not to burn any bridges when turning someone down or breaking up with them.

Has that been a problem?
I knew two of my girlfriend's exes. They were sharing their perspectives of her and that input changed my relationship with her.

Do you have any dating musts?
They have to have confidence. No confidence, no deal. I have also recently added that I can't date anyone that I can diagnose with three or more disorders.

Has that been a problem in the past?
Surprisingly, yes. In this city, I'm probably mentally sound compared to many of the crazies out there.

Do you have any crazy exes?
All my exes are crazy.

Have you had any sexual escapades that you are especially fond of?
It was fun the first time I was able to fuck two women in twenty-four hours.

The first time?
Yeah, there have only been two times where I've been able to do that. But the first time I really had to juggle and it was a huge accomplishment. Actually, it was within six hours, now that I think of it. But I was frustrated, because the first girl was supposed to leave and her ride didn't show up until midnight and the second girl kept calling me to see when I was going to come over. That made it difficult.

Kudos. What's the perfect date for you?
Wine, a good meal, intelligent conversation. Then go home and have sex. Or alternately, ordering in, a movie, cuddle, and then have sex.

Grace, 25

What is dating like in the city?
It's pretty easy. San Francisco is filled with young single people, and it's a matter of weeding through the pool and avoiding the crazies and horror stories as best as you can.

Do you do anything to prep for a first date?
Nothing too special. Probably shave my legs and have a drink.

Has a guy ever told you anything about himself that was a major red flag or turn-off?
Yeah. One guy told me that he used to have long hair and wear these ruffly long-sleeve shirts.

Like a pirate?
Yes! No pirates for me, thanks.

Have you had some horrible dates?
Oh, definitely. I went on a blind date with this Irish guy who was ten years older than me, and, it turned out, a foot shorter. He was really nervous and jittery excited. So it was awkward talking to a guy that was trying way too hard.

I hate that, but that doesn't sound horrible, exactly.
Well, it turned out he was married but separated. And to top it all off, he admitted that his wife had just been diagnosed with brain cancer.

How did you get away from that situation?
I called a friend to come by and save me. She showed up and she and I got really drunk and ended up making out.

Way to save the night!
Well, yes and no. After we got drunk, I woke up the next day at the Irish guy's house and he obsessively texted and Facebooked me passive-aggressive messages about women who lead him on.

What do you think is the way to a man's heart?
I've found it's through insulting them. For some reason guys hear me insulting them and they think of me as spunky and want to have sex with me. Insults work for me. That and blowjobs.

Has a guy ever insulted in you in the bedroom?
Yes but it was a misunderstanding more than anything. I dated a guy, and after we had sex he blurted out this really maniacal laugh for a solid three minutes. It really caught me off-guard and I didn't know how to take it.

What did he say?
It turns out that he laughs uncontrollably when he has an orgasm. But you'd think he could have warned me.

Where is the most unusual place you've had sex?
San Francisco City Hall, during the gay-pride parade. They throw a big party there every year and drinks are flowing, everyone is dressed up and we just went with the moment. I also broke into a church using a Blockbuster card and had sex in the choir box. Though we were trying to find the confessional.


Damien, 30

Is it easier or harder to date in San Francisco than other cities?
I think it's easier. I've dated women back East and, well, there are a lot more gay men in San Francisco who skew the ratio of single men to single women. There are also fun and exciting things to go out and do on any night of the week.

Where do you meet people you date?
Anywhere. On the street.

Have you dated anyone you met on the street?

How did that go?
We only went on one date. But it was a good date. That's the other great thing about San Francisco. If you go out on a date with someone, chances are they know someone you know. There's that web in San Francisco that connects everyone.

Have you ever had a horrific date?
Yeah. She was a very intelligent, great-on-paper copywriter. It seemed like everything I had to say, she put the kibosh on it. I mentioned that I like to have a glass of wine or liquor sometimes when I come home and she immediately responded that she doesn't drink every night.

So she seemed argumentative?
Kind of. It was just awkward. It even ended with a weird and unnecessary hug at the end, even though we knew the date had come to a dead-end.

Do you have any dating dealbreakers?
I would say anyone spouting conservative, racist, bigoted talking points. Oh, and anyone that works for Monsanto — that would obviously not work.

Do you have a good way to turn down a dating proposition?
I try to deflect it and say that I'm not in a "good place" right now. Anyone who's dated enough knows that people take time to get over a past relationship, so saying you're still in that mourning period usually works.

I may need to use that one.
Yeah. It's a softball response. It's an easy "it's not you, it's me," without really saying it.

What is a fun, unique date to go on in SF?
If you want to knock someone's socks off, take them to Musee Mecanique. It's an interactive arcade of mechanical games and oddities from the turn of the century. And for like five dollars each, you can be entertained for over an hour and chat with one another. And it's right on the corner of Fisherman's Wharf, so the girl at first thinks you're really lame for taking her to a touristy spot, but then she gets in the museum and it's really awesome.

Do you think active dates are better than the traditional dinner and a movie?
I think dinner is fine if you're a decent enough conversationalist. But unless you really made a connection over dinner, a movie won't really progress the date.

What about weirdest place you've had sex?
In a pre-school.

Please tell me there were no children there.
No, no, there weren't. But for some of it we were under the table where the kids usually have their snacks.

Have you insulted anyone in the bedroom?
Oh yeah. Once I was receiving a blow-job that was so bad that I had to push her away and finish with my hand. Essentially her cheeks were puffed out and she was trying to blow.

How did she react to that?
She wasn't thrilled.

How would you sum up your sex life in San Francisco?
I primarily use my penis and my mouth. Oh, sometimes I use my fingers.


Liza, 28

What's the dating scene like in the city?
Easy to date in San Francisco. Its almost too easy.

Do you have to turn down a lot of prospects?
Working at a restaurant, I get so many drunk people from the Financial District will come on to me at least once a night. It just comes with the job really.

What do they say?
I had one guy the other day stop me and say, "It would just hurt me not to tell you that, girl, you are just fucking beautiful." But actually, the most common way guys try to segue into asking me out or hitting on me is making some sort of comment about my tattoos. It's easy for them to ask a question about what one means or where I get them. They think it isn't as overt as talking about my clothes or eyes.

How do you respond to that?
I try to laugh it off and tell them they made my night. At least it's not as bad as the lewd things that get yelled at me by men on the street. I was about to get on the bus by my house and some homeless man called out, "Ooo girl, I want to taste you." He was obviously disturbed and I just felt dirty the whole ride to work. Not the finest moment. And it still sticks with me.

Have you had any really amazing dates in the city?
Yes. One actually that was off the charts. This girl, who was actually a little stalker-ish, told me outright that she was going to take me out and didn't tell me what was going to happen, so I was a little concerned. She rented a Zip Car and took me to a comedy club. I just wasn't expecting it. I thought we'd have dinner and go to a bar or something, but it was so different and fun.

That's sweet.
Well, despite the good date, it didn't make me like her any more than I had before, but we had a blast. I was really impressed.

Do you have any dating pet peeves?
Don't take me to a place where there's dancing and make me sit and talk to you. It isn't going to happen. I won't care what you're saying, because I'm just wondering when I can get up and dance.

Do you do anything to prep before a first date?
Shave. For sure. And probably go shifting though my drawers for the nicest underwear. Because you probably won't need to get to that point, but just in case, you want to have the nice ones on.

How do you feel about getting physical on the first date?
I probably won't have sex with someone the first night, especially if I like them or I know I'll see them around. It's not a never-ever situation, but I know how I am, and if I sleep with someone the first night, I get bored of the idea of them and want to move on.

So you want to wait and create a rapport?
Yeah, I like the buildup and the mystery. You get to have the second date and the phone calls and then you get a chance to get excited.

Date two?
All bets are off.

Interviews and photography by Krystal Peak. Want to talk to strangers in your town? Email