The night this article came out I was co-hosting an event for single ladies through the matchmaking/dating coaching company I work for and everyone was abuzz about it. Clearly these frustrations resonate with many singles in San Francisco.
Like the author, I am a native San Franciscan. Unlike the author who went away to boarding school for high school, I started my dating life while going to high school in this city, and I see some benefits of the pluralistic, open SF culture for singles.
Through Breakup Breakthrough and Rapport I work with clients on some of these exact issues, and I am happy to say that nearly every person who signs up to be a client is yearning for dates who take dating seriously, in that they connect with their date authentically. Here are my responses to these points.
All Communication Will Happen Over Text
We are all in control of whether or not we respond to a text with a phone call or not, and whether we choose to engage with someone who avoids speaking on the phone with us before making a date. I wonder if this is actually worse in San Francisco, because everywhere I go people are replacing phone conversations with texting. I was just talking to a man about how his female date freaked out when he called her instead of texting. He should be very grateful that she warned him early on that she is not ready for a close connection with a date. If you are engaging in this behavior of shirking away from telephone conversations, you are not alone and you are not helping your dating life. Women especially are able to detect chemistry and compatibility in a phone call. Why not use this free screening tool and give yourself an opportunity to build rapport with your date before you meet.
When Relationships Do Happen They Move Quickly
I still think they move even more quickly for the tens of thousands of people in arranged marriages. You were dealing with your five roommates before you fell in love; keep dealing with them for a few more years before considering a move in.
Your date will follow you in Twitter and Instagram immediately
A few years ago my friend told me that they guy she was dating had this weird quirk that he doesn’t believe in becoming Facebook friends with people he dates. Now they are living together raising two boys. Boundaries with social media a protection against unnecessary gossip, prejudice and confusion? Check.
I hate this too, and I’m not even dating right now. I’m looking at you Type A folks who make and keep commitments you made two weeks in advance and show up to everything on time. This is your time to shine! This is your time to stand a head and shoulders above those flaky dates with FOMO.
Proper dating etiquette is not a thing
“Proper dating” is scary and makes people vulnerable, which I actually think is great. What I do have issues with is that a pluralistic society could agree upon one type of proper dating. Since people come from all over the world to live, work and play in San Francisco, one cannot assume that their date will want to be picked up and dropped off (at subsidized housing or at one of the high rise condos you put down in our dinner conversation). We are also a food city that empowers people to embrace their fringe diets. While I agree that anyone you are considering for a long-term relationship, should ultimately have many dietary choices in common with you, first date choices that allow people to keep their food issues on the down low can be a win-win setup. Really awesome people have food issues ranging from mild overeating, to emergency room inducing allergies to dangerous eating disorders. I guarantee you could learn to love one of them after some drinks and quality non-eating time. Really awesome people also have money issues, and have every right to reserve their spending money on people they already know and like.
The dudes (usually) don’t pay
This practice stems from a history of women being denied the opportunity to own property and earn money. While many women still earn less than many men, the assumption that women are not capable of paying is supporting a mentality that women need financial assistance from men they don’t even know. I do occasionally let men pay for me, and I understand that they are offering to pay for me out of kindness and courtesy, not chauvinism. I still maintain that this practice contributes to the perception that women are not capable of being financial equals to men. Straight gentlemen: you will likely score points by warmly offering to pay for ladies you take on dates. Straight ladies: Unless you know he grew up in a culture really similar to yours, don’t assume his lack of invitation to pay for you means anything other than his assumption that you are capable of earning twice of what he makes.
Chivalry is extra dead here
At my 8th grade graduation the head of my all girl’s school told us “Stop waiting for Prince Charming. He isn’t coming. Instead you should be Princess Charming” I practice that every day as I hold doors for men and women, drive people home late at night and compassionately remove insects from tropical hotel rooms and for my squeamish students.
Everyone’s looking for the next best thing
Sucks in dating, but it’s been pretty awesome with our history of embracing gay rights, trans acceptance, birthing Craigslist and Couchsurfing and being one of the first American cities to collect compost as municipal waste. You see, the real San Francisco culture is not about bouncing from one hot new bar and hot new date to the next. It’s about striving for a more ideal, genuine way of connecting and expressing yourself. Don’t like that antsy FOMO mentality? Get out of the street festivals and bars and find an organization devoted to something you love where you could volunteer. Haven’t examined that part of San Francisco yet? Try Boys and Girls Club, Glide Church, Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, St. Anthony’s foundation, SFUSD Ed fund volunteers and so much more.
The person you’re dating? They’re going to move soon.
On behalf of a very complex housing problem including irrational local and state policies, corporate greed, and amazing weather, I apologize for our housing crisis. Look for the SF natives. We might still be living with our parents, but I’ll be darned if we don’t know a good thing when we have it. We’re here, but we’re not out getting $15 cocktails and Ubers. We are proudly taking MUNI (I met one of my first boyfriends on MUNI; he is also a Native San Franciscan).
No one dresses up No one dresses up conventionally for dates
Have you seen the way people dress for Folsom Street Fair, the Dickens Fair and Burning Man Decompression? San Francisco sports wild style when it comes to social wear. As a dating coach and breakup coach, I recommend dressing in a way that is authentic, yet polished for first dates. Still confused and insecure about how to dress in a pluralistic, casual city on a first date? Trained image consultants at dating coaching services such as Rapport, or others can help you with this one.
Everyone’s slept with everyone
This was the for better part, right?
You’ll date a nerd
As someone who has spent time teaching middle school, my heart flutters with delight every time I hear a nerd is dating. Did you know that every time you date a nerd, a disease is cured in Africa? Date nerds!
People go to the grocery store to pick up people, not food
In one of the few types of stores that are indisputably essential to human sustenance, you find people engaging in one of life’s most important activities: gathering food. If you plan on having children, you will likely have some years ahead of you that don’t involve habanero cocktails, food trucks or late night concerts. As a breakup coach and a dating coach, I can assure you that no one breaks a serious relationship over not being able to banter with their partner at a hot new restaurant, or knowing where the newest pop up restaurant is. People break up over expectations about money, sex, sharing responsibilities, and parenting children. Grocery stores are a great way to find the people who are building a healthy, sustainable home life and get a glimpse of them sober abd under fluorescent lights.
Peter Pan Syndrome is the norm
Some men (and women) are not living up to their highest potential when they are chasing salaries, mortgages and raising a family. Thankfully we have a sanctuary where they can live the way they want. Would it be better if they grew up, married, had children in their 20’s, and then left their family in their 50’s because they finally had the courage to be who they always wanted to be? Didn’t think so. If you go on a date with Peter Pan and you are looking for Ward Cleaver, thank Peter for his honesty and move on and start looking for Ward (hint: he doesn’t have a shirtless profile on Tinder).
You’ll Date Someone who is polyamorous
"See Peter Pan Syndrome”. What? Polyamory is part of Peter Pan syndrome? A lot of couples don’t arrive at polyamory until their 2nd decade of marriage when they have moved through the questions of wondering if they are “enough” for their partner and have let go of defining their love by exclusivity. From what I read on Craigslist Casual Encounters, a lot of older folks are having a great time too!
Tinder isn’t just for sex
Your brother will swipe right to you on Tinder
Preach it sister!
There’s a good chance you’ll fall in love at Burning Man
Awww! San Francisco birthed Burning Man too. Yes, the beginning and ends of many relationships.
Going on a hike is a perfectly acceptable date idea
I love this suggestion! Avoid all the food, alcohol, high heels and narrow restrictions for men’s evening wear. Just remember to be safe and feel free to change plans if the hike is too remote or you get a weird feeling.
Your Date will Likely Be and Adventure
Yes! So true! Have fun with the external adventure of going to sweet, secret spots in San Francisco, but don’t forget to embark on the internal adventure of dating. Dating without the intention of commitment is a wonderful opportunity to connect with people from different cultures, demographics and mindsets. If you are like many frustrated San Franciscans who have given up serious dating out of disappointment and hurt and you are engaged in casual dating, I hear you! Don’t give up forever (unless, after doing some deep, self-examination you truly are better suited to living your life without a partner), but do take this opportunity to date someone you wouldn’t otherwise have a reason to know. Do you have a narrow age range, height range or type, that you really like but has been disappointing you? Snap out of it and date someone outside that range and see what happens. What’s the worst that could happen, since no one in this city commits any way 😉