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Sex in the Fog: Navigating the Top 10 Urban Dating Woes

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San Francisco can be a notoriously confusing environment to navigate through the thick mist of love, sex, and relationships. You would think with the rise of dating outlets like Tinder, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and even Fetlife, that there would be a scratch for every itch. Yet, we live in a city that has more dogs than kids. The relationship paradigm is changing and leaving many lonely, dissatisfied, bitter, or bemused. Although technology provides us endless choices at the swipe of our finger, why are so many people not getting what they are after? Below are complaints I have received, followed by no-bull-shit advice on how to get out of the fog:

Complaint #10 “Ugh. The City is way too Small. I can’t find anyone to date. ”
Then take a damn BART. I know it can be a bitch to leave your neighborhood, but it is a game expander. Yes, people do cut their toe nails on BART occasionally, however its really not that long of a ride to improve your mating chances. According to the US Census Bureau, there are are about 400k men and 380k women in SF proper with the median age of late thirties. Not to depress you, but if you subtract the taken, sexually incompatible or homeless (kidding), you aren’t left with a huge dating pool to choose from if you aren’t willing to go outside your zip code.

Complaint #9 “Too many Telephone Tough Guys”
“Telephone Tough Guys” is a term that can be applied to any sex.  It’s that person who will fearlessly text you anything, but couldn’t approach a bus if it stopped in front of them. Or the type of who will chat with you for days, but disappear as soon as you ask to move the conversation to real life. I know because I have been guilty of this travesty before. Message interactions have become disposable distractions. You say one wrong thing in a message and *poof* onto the NEXT.  Downside is, this causes courtship competency to become a vestigial skill.  Regardless of what end you are in this equation, all sides have to stop being “starfish”  who just lay there pressing buttons and start saying yes to real life situations. Inviting dates to group gatherings where you will already be, is a great and safe way to start. lunar-moondust Complaint #8 “Damn transients. They keep leaving just as things are getting good.”
Yea, that is the double edged sword of all the fresh meat we get imported here.  This city eats people alive and the likelihood of a newbie staying more than a year, is a toss up. My advice: Make sure the person you are dating is having a love affair with the same city you are in before investing too much.

Complaint #7 “ It’s just not sexy to talk about expectations.”
Nothing is sexier than when someone is in touch with what they want = preferably you.  Of course, its all about they way you choose to communicate. Refrain from laying all your expectations out on first dates and make it more about a compelling conversation about desires and experiences. You can be talking about one in the same. You’ve gotta find ways to make honesty sexy and appealing. Telling anecdotes about your friends to get your potential mates opinion is a great way to get an idea of their stances, if being direct is not your style.

Complaint #6 “ Dating is a heinously expensive drain on my time and bank account – especially amidst my quest for financial stability.”
“Then Budget. Beer goggles aren’t free ya know. I’m kidding.  Get creative and research what is out there. There are even fun and romantic ways to  feed your date for under $5 a pop.  There’s no reason not to be upfront with your financial situation too. If your date is going to judge you or try to drain your wallet, then they are not for you.

Complaint #5 “ I have a fatal case of choice paralyzation.”
In a city where any kink or fetish can be embraced by someone,  choice paralyzation can often make it harder to commit to a person – let alone a label: sapiosexual, pansexual,  polyamorous, GGG, trans, “vagitarian”, whatever. Although there are always going to be tons of options around us, there is always only going to be 24 hours in the day. Committing can be a fucking beautiful experience- whatever that looks like for you. There is no perfect or wrong choice. Just dive in.

Complaint #4 “I don’t know what we are – or the difference between “seeing each other” and “dating.”
Me neither. But it doesn’t actually matter. All that matters is that you know what you want and that you verbalize it as you know. Use your lips.  People nowadays aren’t just afraid of commitment. We are even afraid of committing to a definition of commitment. We need to stop being so vague and openly talk to each other.

Complaint #3 “No one approaches me in real life.”
Then take care of those hammer pants and sleepy time bun. There is someone for everyone. Sooner you become your best self is the sooner that likelihood will take place. If you put in the effort, you will get noticed. Be the best version of yourself at all times — and for yourself. Wear those ‘fuck-me-shoes’ or ‘grope-me-belt’ that makes you feel hot so you exude self love and confidence. This city is about the survival of the fittest. You better stand out, take care of your skin, hair, body, teeth, and mind if you want to land someone in this Urban jungle. You never  know when you are going to meet someone – so If you can’t hang here, then move to a small town. They have much lower expectations. Tinder1 Complaint #2 “Everybody here has Peter-Pan syndrome and never wants to grow up. ”
Yes, men’s sexual peak is 16-18, while it doesn’t hit women ’til their 30’s. What kind of cruel joke is that? Men, who are notably more visual creatures aren’t in any rush to settle down until their lady counterparts start getting, well, uglier. What can you do? Start investing in your health earlier. Join group athletic activities where you can kill two birds with one stone and interact with potential beaus and stay fit. The goal is to stay hotter for longer considering “the nesting light bulb” as I call it, goes off later and later for us Urbanites.

Complaint #1 “I just don’t know what I want”
If you can’t even say it out loud, then how the hell are you going to get it?  The best way to meet a match is to be super clear with what you want and then share that possibility with them. You’re not going to necessarily know if you want to commit to that person on the first few dates — especially because you are generally dating their “representative” (or a surface version of them) for the first 6 months, but you can set the tone for the type of situation(s) you are open for. I call it “stating the tunnel of possibilities.” Just express what excites you about dating, sex, and relationships.  If you’re looking for someone to share cereal with in life and she just wants to fuck, then it would be good to put that on the table. It’s important to make bold statements and be gracefully confident when sharing them.

So there you have it: the brutal stepping stool towards clarity in this foggy bitch of a city. 


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Alexandra Liss - Couchsurfer Extraordinaire

Alexandra Liss - Couchsurfer Extraordinaire

Alexandra Liss is a San Francisco native, Entrepreneur Whisperer, Sharing Economy Evangelist. Just Vagenius. Co-author of, & Videographer for hire, Director of


  1. Sumit
    January 26, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    One of my favorites that has yielded some of my best date experiences:

    • Alexandra Liss
      January 27, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Nice! 🙂

  2. Fumbly Mumbly
    January 27, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Some no bullshit, great advice said with wisdom about his mad jungle of a city! Manifest what you want, but be ready for when it comes, take care of yourself first and foremost so you can have the best self to offer! No better advice than that!

  3. Nikki Lee Ezelle
    January 27, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I’ve encountered all of these issues when I’ve dated in San Francisco. And to be quite honest, the undeniable loneliness I felt, no matter who surrounded me, is one of the primary reasons I’ve left. Ever since I made that decision I’ve been lucky enough to find love on two separate occasions on the East coast. Though both relationships have since ended, I was lucky to find two incredible men that I spent a combined 2.5 years with. And I can honestly say, nothing tops the harsh dating reality I faced when I was living in San Francisco.

    To play devils advocate, when I lived in San Francisco I was young, naive and immature. I didn’t know what I was doing or who I was. All I knew is that I was interested in “entertaining” the idea of love, but I was more concerned with building my career, so I casually floated in and out of the dating scene. I can’t speak for everyone in SF, but I have a hunch many share this underlying feeling.

    To call my past self out, I wasn’t really looking for love and I do not believe a lot of the people I dated were either. I’d find really awesome men, with great potential all the time. But I believe it was the feeling of loneliness that would draw us together. We’d crave companionship and connection, but the moment it arrived, and we were there face to face with the opportunity to commit and invest energy and time into one another, to truly build a lasting relationship— a thousand reasons to end it would present themselves, and we’d take the first one that made sense. No questions asked. Usually it pertained to our careers.

    I encountered a lot of close friends and coworkers who would incessantly talk about finding love, but were quick to flee a relationship the moment something didn’t go the way they had anticipated. I found it so childlike, but there I was doing the same thing. Only in San Francisco though, never on the East Coast.

    Forgive me for being blunt, but I found so many, men in particular, incredibly egotistical and selfish. Most relationships felt one-sided, and I felt emotionally disconnected from virtually every man I encountered. Though I’m forever the idealist, and I’ll always have high hopes for San Francisco, I don’t necessarily know if I can say the dating landscape will get any better. Ive always considered it the land of black sheep, people come as quickly as they go. Many travel to the urban jungle to find themselves and to make a name for themselves, I was one of them.

    I don’t think it’s impossible to create a committed relationship there, but I will say there are a lot of external factors that prevent it from happening and it rests in the mentality of the dating community. It’s almost as if no one takes it seriously. They want it, but they’re not willing to put in the time and effort it takes into building a good and long lasting relationship.

  4. arincrumley
    January 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    I hear all these same complaints in NYC too. I think there is another factor which is community. So an extra complaint I’d add to this list is that everyone is in it for themselves so it can be hard to make friends and with a lack of friends it’s hard to gain support for a relationship beyond seeming like just a convenient fling. But to continue the format of this article I want to also offer a solution. Don’t focus on finding a relationship because that’s just a magical lightening strike that you have to really just wait for. But in the mean time focus on building friendships. That is something you can actually proactively do. Ask yourself which people you like the best and make time to spend with them. This will condition your mind to being connected and engaged by other people and more outward. I suppose I’m speaking to anyone who tends to hermit or isolate either because of the nature of their work or because of the nature of society. So just being social and a little more outgoing each day will eventually collide you with people in the context of community which is a great foundation for love.

  5. Tara
    January 28, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    It’s funny how much it still feels like high school with not knowing whether you’re “seeing someone” or “going out” and what those things mean. The rules seem to vary a lot by culture. In NYC people seem to date multiple people at once and that’s ok. In England you really only date one person at a time. I’m not sure which is better. The first way you get to meet more people faster, but you’re also always in a mindset of ‘what else’ rather than focusing on one person at a time and truly feeling if it is right or not.