Despite loads of intelligent, attractive, young single people, dating in San Francisco is not easy. Dating apps might easily match you with potential dates but also make the process of dating harder than in real life: the first text message, the first blind date, the awkward conversation, and the abrupt ending.
Having a big, strong ego could be a good thing when you are dating in SF. To survive the SF dating scene, you need to know what to expect from it if you are going to make it work.
#1. Know what you want
Just like everything in life, you have to find what you want from a date. Do you want a platonic friendship, a romantic relationship, friends with benefits, a painless hookup, or other possibilities? There are many options out there, but each person wants a different type of commitment. Especially in SF, people are more liberal and open to many forms of dating.
Instead of wasting each other's time, I've built a habit of asking: "What are you looking for?" when I chat with someone before the first date. I know what I want, and I need my partner to be aware of his. We should try to focus on people that we might have connections with, rather than endlessly swiping right.
#2. Pick your favorite app
After you know what you want, you better choose an app that will work best for you. Tinder is, of course, more straightforward, so don't be surprised if many are looking for booty calls. Bumble has been labeled as the “feminist Tinder,” allowing women to make the first move, and yet setting a time limit of 24 hours from the time they match before the connection disappears. Coffee Meets Bagel tends to aim for a more serious relationship. Women will get options of men who already liked them, which means no more guessing game. There are OkCupid, Happn, Raya, Match.com, and other options.
Don't get confused, check out this article to find the right dating app for you.
#3. Google yourself before your date googles you
My friend calls it “pre-dating” and not “stalking.” It is a short research to double check if the date is not a scam.
In the past, I've searched every possible shred of information I can find about a guy that I like from his Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, or articles about him. Okay, that one was stalking, I admit.
Regardless of the reason, people do type in their date’s name on Google. I suggest that you Google yourself. Make sure you don't put out unnecessary or dangerous information out there and set your Facebook to private.
#4. Grab a coffee or drink in public on the first date
Coffee Meets Bagel's poll shows that having overpriced coffee at an artisanal, organic coffee shop in Mission is the typical SF first date.
Generally, within the first 60 seconds of the date, you will get a sense whether there is a possibility of friendship or romantic relationship. If there is no connection, the worse thing possible is to get stuck with a bad date for hours. So keep the first date short, you can always extend it if things go well. And yes, always meet in public, just because you don't want to let a serial killer into your house.
#5. Be Genuine
During a blind date, there is often the temptation to try to be what you think the other person will want since they don’t know you in real life.
Be genuine with your profile picture, at least keep it close to the real life. Be genuine with your date about what you like and dislike. Don't pretend to be a yogi or a vegan just because your date is.
#6. Keep the distance in mind
If he/she lives across the bridge, it’s basically long distance since Lyft would cost more than 30 bucks.
#7. Don’t get too emotional, they are most likely going to move
SF natives are as rare as a unicorn. Most people moved to SF for work or study, and not everyone is planning to live in the city forever. So unless you want to move back to Boston, Essex, or Beijing, make sure to not get too attached to anyone you date in SF before you know his or her plans.
#8. Expect he/she travels a lot
Let’s say they do live in the city, but they are never around. People in SF always seem to be traveling. It happened multiple times when I had a few great dates with someone, and then he had to travel for work. Things ended up with him sending me pictures from Amsterdam, Japan, or Vegas until things tent to fizzle out due to no one was ever around long enough to get to know each other.
#9. Let’s move in together… really?
When relationships do happen, couples tend to move in together quickly. Mostly it is because rent in SF is more affordable when it is being split two ways.I've seen multiple friends that are stuck being roommates with their exes. So, make sure when you do move in together, it is because you are ready to take your relationship to the next level.
#10. Looking to commit? Beware of the “Peter Pan Syndrome”
Being single in one’s 40s is totally normal in SF. People are coming to San Francisco to grow their profession, to travel and to experience life; they aren’t looking for their soulmate.Thousands of young individuals from around the world prolong their independence while putting their careers as number one priority. They want to make money to buy a nice condo, a convertible, the latest gadgets, and never grow up. Your dates could love their jobs more than you and most likely you will feel the same.
#11. Remember, “ghosting” is not personal
Have you been “ghosted” before? Well, you are not alone. I’ve been ghosted, and it happens to everyone nowadays.
Urban Dictionary defines ghosting as: “The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just get the hint and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested.”
The ultimate silent treatment is one of the most common endings to great date stories. Playing dead can be rude and disrespectful but don't take this personally, and try not to get offended. People are just afraid of confrontation and avoidance seems like an easy solution. We also never know what the other person is going through in his/her life. When my dates are ghosting me, usually I pretend that they are dead instead of acting like an insecure nutcase. After all, they are ghosts. Let them deal with their problems in their afterlife.
#12. Unmatch = Block!
Some people are simply mean and offensive. There are many weird people out there. I’ve got people that would pester me with messages all day. I’ve received numerous unwanted sexual pictures and multiple rude messages with no reason. I've also had a date that kept messaging me asking for money. Sometimes, blocking is necessary.
I know this list may sound negative, but the reason that you should know these facts is to prepare you to date in San Francisco with the right mindset. When you enter an online dating scene with the wrong attitude and unrealistic expectations, it can make you feel insecure when the problem is not with you. After you get used to the SF dating culture, you will survive the swings of online dating. I believe that you can learn a lot about yourself from the experience, or perhaps you will find your heart in San Francisco.