Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Seattle, WA

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Shanti, 33

How long have you been in the Seattle area?
Getting close to a year now. I'm from the Bay Area.

What do you do?
I'm a musician, an artist, a traveler, nomad, gypsy.

Do you get a lot of dates with your profession? I would assume yes.
I think women love men with talent and skill.

What was the last relationship you were in?
The last serious relationship I was in was with my second wife. It was for five years. My second marriage wasn't like my first marriage. In my first marriage, my wife was much more easy-going, flexible. My second wife was sharp as steel. We were sharper towards each other. We really did make each other better, but it was sort of like two lions. It was a battle. We were both into perfection and exactness and seeking to bring that out of each other.

Do you have any crazy exes?
Yes, I do have some crazy exes. To me, that shit is scary. I try to break it down and find the crazy before, you know, it explodes in your face.

And you haven't been successful at that.
I think I am successful! Because I feel real choosy. It's a luxury as a man to be choosy.

Do you have any crazy hookup stories?
Yeah! A ménage à trois with my guitar and another female. That was pretty good time.

That sounds pretty scary, actually.
When you actually divide your attention, it's pretty complex. That was pretty rock star, you know? And I feel like I am a rock star. It was great.

You said that your first partner was chill and you butted heads with the second partner. What qualities are you looking for in a third?
I mean, I'm thirty-three years old and I have an eighteen-year-old daughter. She's going off to the University of London, so I'm on a level where I'm done. I've accomplished, defeated. I've done well with children, and so I feel finished.

You feel finished?
Finished on some level, you know what I mean? As thirtysomethings, people are like, "Yeah, I'm ready to settle down and have a family." I already sort of did those things. So now I'm feeling free, I'm feeling grown. I can enjoy this part of my life. They say the thirties are the new twenties!

So then you're really ahead of the game.
I'm appreciating this moment, and my daughter just came up here to see me. She's about to go and it's great. So I feel like I'm in another place. I've been married twice. My father had five wives, so that's something that I always aspire to.

You aspire to have five wives?
Yep, in a lifetime I do. Five awesome women who change me and make me better, more spectacular. For all the women I've been with, I had two wives. That was serious commitment. You know, a woman is like water, and they touch me, they move me, and they direct me and make me a better man. I always seek the challenge of it. People will never be simple.

Graham, 21

How much dating experience would you say you have for your age?
I have an average amount. I've had a lot of relationships, some of which weren't necessarily dating.

So more casual?
Yeah, they were casual friendships. Casual, like, open relationships.

When was your last actual relationship?
My ex girlfriend and I broke up two months ago. We were together for about a year and a half. But it was a good thing.

The relationship or breaking up?

How did you meet her?
I used to work at a printing studio, and this girl worked there. She invited me to a party at her house, which ended up being an all-girls underwear party. I put on a pink tutu and a bra and booty-danced all night to Beyoncé.

That must've taken some confidence — good for you.
Two days later I went skiing and broke my back. I was in the hospital like, "Fuck! I just met this really cute girl and I broke my back, and I can't have sex. No one's going to wait around to hang out with this broken-back kid." But I ended up spending a shit ton of time at her house playing board games, and hanging out with her cats. And we were both artists. We were constantly working together. We really got into making stickers and doing some graffiti together, and we went on a trip to San Francisco, like a "graffiti tour" of California, and we put up, like, a thousand stickers in five days. Things were great. We had super-good communication and a lot of sex.

She sounds really awesome! What the hell happened?
Well, I was in boarding school, and I hadn't gone home for more than a week in like, five years. But prior to meeting my girlfriend, I had promised my mom that I would come home. I went home during the summer, when my girlfriend and I had been together for six months. I ended up leaving for Texas, she came to visit me, and we went to New Orleans. Horrible trip.

What happened?
We just hadn't seen each other for a really long time, and when we saw each other, there were just these pressures, like we needed to be doing certain things because we were seeing each other for the first time in a while. The entire relationship was built off of no pressure at all, for anything, and all of the sudden there was pressure to be a specific type of person for the other person. Also, it was the height of tourist season, so we just had a lot of bad experiences. Three months later I came back and things just started slowly going downhill. We weren't communicating as much. We were still in an open relationship and having crushes on other people but not talking about it. Earlier on, we'd had a lot of things we could share and collaborate with each other on, but now, she had spent a half year working on this project that I didn't have any connection to. It was just very hard to understand where she was. So we ended up breaking up. We became friends again.

Do you have any crazy exes?
No, I love all my exes. I've had the coolest lovers that anyone could ever ask for. Really creative, happy people.

So what would you say your type is?
Weirdos. I like people who are extremely passionate. I can't be with someone who doesn't completely love themselves and what they're into before me or anything else. It's important to me to be able to share something with my lover. Doesn't matter if they're super-beautiful, super-ugly. I'm most attracted to people who are into some really random thing.

Nastashia, 27

So what do you do to make a living?
I'm an ophthalmic technician and I'm a medical assistant.

I'm guessing you don't use your title to get dates.
Oh my God, that would be corny. And it's not that special.

So how often do you meet potential dates when you go out?
I really don't go out to meet people. I just go to hang out with my besties and just have a good time. I don't want to meet someone at the club. I don't mind meeting them to have a good time and to have fun, you know — see you later, thanks for the dance.

Yeah, I don't think too many relationships work when you meet while drunk and grinding on each other.
Mine lasted, like, two years out of the club and that was it.

So when was the last relationship that you were in?
It was three months ago, actually. We were together for four months. We were really good friends. I've known him for eight years. We reconnected because I hadn't seen him for a period of time. He asked me on a date, and I said yes, and then we just started dating. He always had me laughing.

So what happened?
I found out that he was still married and wasn't very honest. Eventually, he just didn't treat me very well. I'm a very open person with a big heart and I just like to help people. It just wasn't the right thing. I've learned from past experiences to just get out early. I lost a good friend and what I thought was a good boyfriend.

What would you say is your type?
My type… well, I do like white guys.

Well, it's the Pacific Northwest. There's no shortage.
Yeah, definitely. As long as they have a good time and like to be spontaneous once in a while, not so predictable, I'm good. Extreme-sports kind of guys, athletic types. I do like the pretty boys, but I don't want them taking more time to get ready than I do.

Do you think that dating has been hard for you?
I just think it gets harder because I haven't had the greatest relationships. People tell you that they're ready, but they're really not. They tell you what they think you want to hear to make you happy. It's tough, because then you're always questioning whether they're being honest, you know? I still try to stay optimistic. I'm not old so I still have time. And I do have a daughter, but that usually doesn't affect anything since I'm an independent career person.

One of the common themes that I've run into, especially with guys, is that open relationships are ideal for them. Do you have any open-relationship experience?
No, I've never been in one, because I'm selfish and I'd rather it just be me and that person. To me, it's like, if that's what you want, why are you even in a relationship? I'm not the most conventional, traditional person, but I am about certain things, and I think a relationship should be between two people, and not, "Hey, I'm going to hang out with that person, but then I come home to this person."

Do you have any crazy exes?
I was with a guy before my last ex. We're still really good friends, but I think he's kind of crazy. But it's just because he likes the Backstreet Boys. He went on a cruise by himself to go see the Backstreet Boys.

So what are you looking for right now?
I would love to have something stable in my life. I've been through a lot of heartache. I want to build on something. I still have hope. I just met someone. It's a long-distance thing, but I'm like, "Screw it." I've already been through the worst of the worst. I'm just going to take a risk for the first time and see what happens. You never know.