Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: San Francisco, CA

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Talking to Strangers: San Francisco, CA

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

Eri, 35

Is it harder to date in San Francisco than other places you've lived?
I think it's harder because American girls are less open than the girls I've met in Europe. I was in Stockholm, and girls there would catch your attention and buy you a drink. It was an equal exchange. Here the playing field isn't even like that.

So I imagine you've had a few bad dates. Any horror stories?
Not so much horror stories, just painfully one-sided dates. There was one I went on where I met up with a girl at the Elbo Room for some drinks and she spent the entire time talking about herself.

That is the worst.
Right! She didn't even interject a throwaway question like "How about you?" And trying to hear her over the music was just impossible. I finally tuned out when she started telling a story about her doing coke with some Brazilians.

What do you think is the way to a woman's heart?
I would say through her stomach. That or a nice apartment.

Have you ever been insulted by a girl in bed?
You know, I find that it's really hard to be insulted when you're both naked.

Fair enough. But there must have been an embarrassing moment, right?
Yeah. There was a girl who told me that she couldn't have an orgasm.

So, of course, the goal was set.
Exactly. So I went down on her and all of a sudden she thought she was going to come and she peed. An absurd amount. So much that I had to get a new mattress. It was a snow-angel stain on my mattress.

What happened to the girl?
I broke up with her. But a while later she showed up at my house to pick up a book or something and she brought her parents.

Yeah, the whole time I was thinking, "Your daughter peed on my face."

[Photo for Sarah and Sandra (regrettably) redacted]

Sarah, 25 

What do you do to pay the bills?
Well, it's not paying too much, but I'm a civil-rights lawyer.

How has dating in San Francisco been for you?
I've only been dating in the city for a little over five months. Before that I was dating in the East Bay, L.A., D.C., and Hawaii. I would say that dating here has been really easy for me. But that could be because I just came out right before I moved to the city, and gay dating here is like the easiest thing because its so concentrated to a few hot spots.

So how does that make it easier?
Since the crowd is so small, everyone knows one another, and if you see someone you're interested in, you can ask anyone and they'll tell you if the person is single or attached, and probably list off their whole dating history. In my first week of being in the city I was dating four people.

Has anyone ever done offended you in the bedroom?
Its hard to offend me in the bedroom! I'm pretty flexible. But I will say that I have been offended when guys have tried to sneak it in the back door before we had talked about it. There's enough stigma around anal sex that it should be discussed before tried. So when guys just go for it, I'm like "I'm sorry, what were you thinking?"

That sounds fair to me? Anything else?
Don't check your phone when you're having sex.

When's the last time someone did that to you?
Last night.

Do you have any other dating dealbreakers?
If I find out someone is a Republican, it's off.

Are there any sexual requests that you've made that have gone unfulfilled?
The last time my girlfriend and I had a moving van, I really wanted to have sex inside it, but she totally wouldn't.

Did you ask her before or after moving your furniture?

There's your problem!
I know — next time it clearly has to be sex first then move the house. Priorities, right?

Sandra, 25

How long have you been dating in San Francisco?
Essentially my whole life. I'm a vet. I think it's hard to find someone you are compatible with here. There are a lot of people, but it's hard to find that match.

Do you have any first-date dealbreakers?
A girl needs to stay off her phone. I want her attention for the date, especially a first date. I also would like to pay. If a girl doesn't let me pay, it'll piss me off.

How long have you been in your relationship?
Five months, and we're moving in together this week. But my baby is leaving for a vacation tomorrow and will be gone for more than a week while I move our stuff to the new place. It'll only be like the second time we've been apart overnight.

How are you going to cope?
I'm going to be busting my ass working and moving and we'll video-conference a lot.

Since you'll be living together soon, will there be any changes? House rules?
Yeah, lots of sex!

Is there anything that you've always wanted to have happen on a date?
I'm pretty romantic, so I've done most the things that I've wanted to.

Where is the craziest place you've had sex?
The emergency room. I was in a car accident and my girl and I were on the gurney with the curtains drawn. My girl was the one who essentially jumped me, and we nearly got caught by the nurse when she came back. She apparently thought me in a neck-brace was hot.

Kyle, 26

How would you classify dating in San Francisco?
I would say it's difficult to date in San Francisco. I'm usually thrown into casual social gatherings rather than formal dates. But I prefer the parties where people introduce one another and you meet that way, rather than trying to buy a stranger a drink or something.

What do you think is a good date to take someone on in the city?
I think a Thursday night at the Academy of Sciences is a great one. They have a bar and you look at the exhibits and can talk. It's something different that is easier than having to create all the conversation — you can point to things and have that type of dialogue.

That sounds fun and different.
Yeah, and then I might meet up with friends after we've had time to get to know one another, because I think it's really essential that I see if they can get along with my friends as well.

Do you have any dealbreakers?
I don't think there is such a thing as a dealbreaker. I'm pretty open and give people the chance to explain themselves. Though I do find it to be a turnoff if someone is too overtly sexual on the first date.

Do you think it's different if you're friends with someone before a first date?
Yeah, different. I think that you can move a bit faster physically with someone you've known previously than with someone you just met. For newly acquainted people it is best to keep it in your pants for date number one.

How do you feel about dating at work?
I have liked someone whom I work with, but there are just so many dynamics that change, and I think it's best to keep social things on one side and professional things on the other side.

So you wouldn't want to date someone in your field?
Yeah. I'm in advertising, and when I come home to relax I don't want to talk about advertising. I want to ask them about their day and hear about something completely different then what I experienced. I think it just creates a better dynamic when you come from different places and have different things to bring to the table.

What would make you break up with someone?
Anyone without any aspirations or dreams is just not for me. Also, anyone with an agenda where they have set out that they need to be married by this particular age or have kids at this age. I don't want to be put on someone else's timetable.

Has that ever happened?
Yeah, I dated a girl and a few months in I picked up on her eagerness to get really committed, and I broke it off. Sure enough, she jumped into another relationship and got married really quickly. So I'm glad I noticed that vibe and got out of that situation.


Tabby, 22

What do you do for a living?
Marketing and branding.

Does that get you any dates?
Not as of yet, and I'm constantly working, so there's no free time to date.

So you're single right now?
Yeah. I recently got out of a long relationship at the same time my work schedule blew up into eighty-hour weeks. I miss having a life.

Have you ever had any terrible dates?
Yeah, actually. When I was eighteen and living in the school dorms, everyone would list their iTunes status. This guy messaged me that he liked the song I was listening to, and we started talking and Facebooking one another. Then one random night he messaged me that we should hang out and drink his peach vodka.

Peach vodka. Classy.
Yeah, I clearly didn't care. So I went over to his dorm and he played me his crummy keyboard music and got really drunk and cuddled. The next morning I woke up and had to slip off to my eight-a.m. class — only to later receive the Facebook relationship request that this guy had sent that morning.

Please say you said no.
Of course. I instantly clicked no. I mean we didn't even talk about this. And then to make it all worse, the guy messaged me later asking why I didn't confirm our Facebook relationship.

He didn't even try to play it off?
Nope. This is my life. And for weeks he was pleading me that we need to talk this out and I should give him a chance. I even saw him in person one day and before I could even start talking to him about his crazy-stalker status, he was crying.

How did you finally get him to leave you alone?
That's what makes this story even worse. I had this brilliant idea: since the one time we hung out we were both drunk, I thought I would tell him that I had a drinking problem and really needed to focus on myself and my sobriety. He will still message me once every eight months. I immediately delete and ignore.

What's the way to your heart?
Cookies are the way to anyone's heart. On every job-application cover letter I write, I specifically say that I make great cookies, and if you hire me I will bring cookies to the office. The last interview I went on, they asked me about it, and honestly, I don't even really like making cookies.

So the way to someone's heart is lying.

Do you have any turn-offs?
I know it's kind of terrible, but if I find out that a guy goes to church regularly, I think they're less hot. I have to be honest with myself and it's the truth.


Tom, 23

How has the dating scene been treating you?
This last girl I went on a date with was actually one of the best dates I'd had in a while. We really connected amazingly well and, you know, all that bullshit. But then a few days later I see on Facebook that "such and such and douchebag are now in a relationship."

Yeah. I totally wasn't getting the fun-friend-date vibe — I was getting the "I might be into you vibe" — so I was caught off-guard. And we went out another time, and that date went just as well as the first date, so I had to bring up the "so Facebook told me you're in a relationship" thing. And she said that this guy had requested a the online relationship, but she didn't have the discussion and doesn't think they are in a relationship.

Who are these people who broadcast relationships to their hundreds of friends without having the define-the-relationship conversation in person?
Right? There are two crazy people involved. The one who asks for the relationship and the one who awkwardly confirms it even though she doesn't think they're in one! I don't get it.

Any great dates that went better?
Yeah. Back in my junior college, I was the editor-in-chief of my campus paper, and I was into this chick. And on this one day, we had a bomb threat on campus and I was delegating all of the reporters and photographers to go here and do this. I was feeling like kind of a badass, since that's a big deal in a junior college. That day I was high on the adrenaline, and it was the catalyst for me to ask out this girl finally, and we ended up dating for quite a while.

What's the way to a girl's heart?
Be kind of a jerk to them. I mean that in the nicest way possible. You can't be mean, but you can't show them you are too into them. You need to just be a little bit jerky to them. I like someone who challenges me.

Have you ever had any red flags in a relationship?
I had one issue where a girl couldn't really date me because I wasn't a "pure Christian." It shocked me, because in the Bay Area I forget that people do that.

How do you determine whether someone is religious to the point it might hinder your dating?
I think I have the litmus test for this: ask them what they think of Harry Potter. If they're like, "Oh, that's from the devil and teaches the youth about witchcraft," then I know they're that kind of religious, because Harry Potter is like pure good.

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