Why Dating in SF Is Different Than Anywhere Else in the Country

For better or (much, much) worse, dating in SF is not like dating in any other city. It just isn't. Whether it's because we're sometimes too laid back or because we have the best date hikes in the entire world, you won't find another place like it to try to find your lobster. In case you're new to the SF dating game, here's what you're up against:

Flickr/Steve Rhodes

All communication will happen over text

Okay, maybe when you’re together you’ll actually make eye contact and have real conversation, but there will be no phone calls or emails until months -- years! -- into the relationship. And yes, there will be emojis. So many emojis. How else are you supposed to ask someone if they want to get pizza and bang?

When relationships do happen, they move quickly

Because rent in SF is much more affordable when it’s being split two ways.

Your date will follow you on Twitter and Instagram immediately

And might make comments like, “Awww, look at you and your 200 followers. That’s so cute!” And might also never return your texts the next day. But still keep following you. So hey: two hundred and one followers.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dewet/2246908250/" target="_blank">Flickr/dewet</a>

Proper dating etiquette is not a thing

No one's getting picked up and dropped off at their house for the “date” and there isn't an implied commitment for dinner. Instead, it’ll be more of a, “Hey, wanna grab a drink after work” type of thing and then you’ll Uber there separately and have to awkwardly find each other in the bar and depending on how it goes, maybe get food after a couple of drinks, and then Uber home separately, and yes he is 100% leaving you alone on the sidewalk if his Uber shows up first.

The dudes (usually) don’t pay

Dudes in the South, and the East, and the North (?): a large majority of them are still paying for the first date. SF dudes, though, not ALL of them, but a LOT of them, don’t feel the need to pay for the entire date. Even if they’re the ones who did the asking out. In theory, this is okay and the girl should probably buy a round or two. In practice, this kind of sucks.

Chivalry is extra dead here

It’s not even just dead; it’s been beheaded, burned, and sent out to the ocean on a raft. The guys in San Francisco, not ALL of them, but a LOT of them, don’t open doors, walk on the proper side of the sidewalk, or stand up when the woman gets up from the table. But then again, why should they since the women in SF seemingly don’t care?

Daniel Hoherd

Everyone’s looking for the next best thing

Basically, your date views you like an app that’s in beta. Maybe you’re pretty great with a lot of promise and the potential to make someone millions, but that doesn’t mean your date wants to actually download you. And even if they do, it doesn’t mean they’ll ever open you because OOOH SHINY THING OVER THERE.

Everyone flakes

Oh, did you think you actually had a date tonight just because the person you asked out said “maybe?” Welcome to SF where “maybe” means “no” and “yes” means “maybe” and the only way your date is ever going to actually happen is if you have a reservation at Lazy Bear and/or the person has no better offers. Or their cable and Internet go out.

The person you’re dating? They’re going to move soon.

Definitely don’t get attached to anyone you date in San Francisco because no one who moves to San Francisco actually stays in San Francisco. So unless you want to move back to Boston or up to Portland (which, hey, maybe you do), you’re probably going to be heart broken in one year. On the flip side though, for every person who moves away, a new one moves here. So you’ll probably meet someone new, like, immediately.


No one dresses up

To be fair, this is just a San Francisco thing in general, but even for a date, guys will show up in a hoodie and the free T-shirt they got at their last tech meet-up. Meanwhile girls have decided that leggings, flats, and a messy bun are completely acceptable. Frankly, we all kind of deserve one another…

You’ll date a nerd

Like, borderline might have Asperger’s and/or calls the uniforms in baseball “costumes” and/or has to leave mid-date to fix some code. Or all three. And, yes, that person will make more money in a month than you do all year.

Everyone’s slept with everyone

SF is hella small, so there’s a good chance you’ll date your co-worker and several people in your friend group. The good news is that you can find out ahead of time how they are in bed from ever single person you’ve ever met.

Flickr/Derek Gerstmann

People go to the grocery store to pick up people, not food

Specifically the Marina Safeway (aka Dateway), but Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are not to be ruled out. And sure, they probably also pick up some kale and gluten-free beer while they’re at it. Two birds, or whatever.

Peter Pan Syndrome is the norm

No where will you find more people with Peter Pan Syndrome than SF. Yes, they may be approaching their 40s, but a lot of SF's daters have no desire to get married, have kids, or do anything their friends in the Midwest did well over a decade ago. That’s why they moved to SF, where they can make a lot of money, spend it on drinks, fancy gadgets, and never grow up, never grow up, never grow up -- not them!

You’ll date someone who is polyamorous

See “Peter Pan Syndrome” above.


Tinder isn’t just for sex

Basically, everyone who is single is on Tinder. Or Match. Or OKCupid. SF is tech-savvy and one of the benefits to that is that people actually aren't afraid to online date. So go ahead, swipe right. Just not if there are pictures of tigers or duck faces involved.

Your brother will swipe right to you on Tinder

Because he doesn’t want to be mean. Oh. Just me? Never mind then. Moving right along…

There’s a good chance you’ll fall in love at Burning Man

And then maybe cheat on that person the next year at Burning Man. And then start dating the new person. And repeat. Or, you know, just fall in love and stay in love. That happens too!

Flickr/Daniel Hoherd

Going on a hike is a perfectly acceptable date idea

Obviously, not REALLY, but this suggestion will be thrown out there, forcing you to always reply, “Or we could just go get drinks.” Or, you could actually go on the date hike since SF has some pretty amazing ones of those. And you should probably wait until the sun goes down to start drinking? Maybe?

Your date will likely be an adventure

SF has some pretty awesome date spots that aren’t your typical date spots. You can shoot bows and arrows, play mini golf, do a sidewalk food tour, or even just end up at a super-cool bar. One of the best parts about dating? Learning about the person. But also learning about SF.

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Daisy Barringer has yet to meet someone she likes more than pizza, but not for a lack of trying. Follow her on Twitter @daisy.

This article was originally published on February 9, 2015.