Carnal Questing: Passengers Talk Joys and Difficulties of Modern Dating

Perhaps more straightforward in our parents’ generation, dating takes so many different forms today. For some it’s exhaustingly uncertain and painful, for others it’s a dopamine rush and world-expanding. Some daters are out there looking for The One, others are experimenting with ethical non-monogamy, and still others are searching for (or open to) something in between the two poles. 

In this week’s entry I’ve culled some of the most memorable dating anecdotes shared by passengers—from an excited 30-something male about to go on a date at the iHop to a guy in his mid 20s commenting to his friend that he no longer uses dating apps because they’re cesspools of disappointment– his “stellar personality” didn’t show through in his pictures, leading most girls to react instinctively to their social conditioning and swipe left.

One teenage boy talked about how he met his girlfriend on an app designed specifically for teenagers. After describing her as needy, he quickly followed it up with– “But I’m needy too so it works out I guess? Idk actually.” He paused to think, for what felt like a while.

Dive on in!


Lyft Overheard

Girl 1: “I want a guy to come up behind me when I’m swiping on the treadmill, say to me, ‘put that phone away, Baby. You don’t gotta do that anymore—your match is right here.”

Girl 2: “Ew, do you really want that?”

Girl 1 thinks for a minute, then: “No. That would actually be really creepy.”


Q: What turns you off in a profile?

Passenger 1:  “Girls who described themselves by telling more than showing, or who gratuitously self-complimented without providing evidence to justify their hubris.”

Passenger 2: “The worst is, I don’t do drama. What does that even mean? I’m a chill person and I stay away from drama translates to me as, you don’t know how to handle conflict and you’ll peace out at the first sign of it. They’re trying to masquerade a weakness as a strength.”


# Lyft Quote

“Good lighting in the bathroom on a first date is like having a comforting friend to turn to in the middle of it. Bad lighting is the friend who points out all your flaws and does not want you to get laid.”


The Hospital Love Story

I’m paused at the red light of a busy intersection in downtown San Francisco. A girl on a bike is stopped next to me. One hand rests on her handlebar. The other grips her phone. I see that she is swiping. 

Now, I’ve witnessed “swiping while driving” before. I’ve also surprisingly witnessed biking with headphones on, or with a kitten or sushi burrito in one hand. But flipping through a catalog of date prospects while pedaling through hectic SF traffic? That one was a first.

My mind jumps to an imaginary scenario of two patients meeting from their adjacent beds inside a hospital.

“What are you in here for?” one asks the other.

“Bumbling while driving. You?”

“No way? Mine was Tindering while driving! That’s wild.”

They get to talking. Hours pass. By the time the nurses make the next rounds, an undeniable connection has formed. 

Both patients had been waiting for a moment like this, they admit to one another. That is, the chance to connect organically. Yet the likelihood of it happening within their busy, regminented, serendipity-free lives had seemed close to none.

The lives they lived contained interactions with the same people and the traversing of the same routes and the seeing of the same faces every day (the only new ones being those that flitted by in cyberspace as they endlessly swiped).

“But no more of that. This,” the guy said, holding up his neighbor’s casted arm and giving it a squeeze, “This right here is real.”

His new connection doesn’t hear. Her free hand has already gone back to swiping.

Alternative fantasy scenario: I’m waiting for that meet cute moment where the girl and guy, or the girl and the girl or the guy and guy or the gender nonbinary person and gender nonbinary person, or whoever and whoever, meet when they’re both stuck in traffic.

One of them is singing and dancing in their car to Lil Nas X. They’re having a great time. They’re making the best of an undesirable situation.

The other is in the car behind them. The two make eye contact in the rearview mirror and smile at each other and things take off and eventually they end up getting married and raising kids or puppies or pigs together. 

Every minute of every day carries endless possibilities.


# Lyft Thoughts: “Maybe-ing” someone on a dating app

Overheard: two passengers describing their male acquaintance as “the kind of guy who would get angry at somebody for maybe-ing him, even though he maybed them too”). They’re referring to dating apps. More specifically a hypothetical dating app feature wherein you can select “maybe” rather than “yes” or “no” (this feature exists only in our minds as of now).

Their conversation leads me to wonder: What would it be like if the apps notified you that  you were “maybe”d?

In the past, depending on my mood or how flexible my heart was feeling, I would sometimes swipe right even if I didn’t feel that enthusiastic about a prospect.

 I wondered if I would want these people to know they were maybe-ed. If someone maybe-ed me, would I want to know? Or would I be like “screw you” and un-match them, even if I maybed them too? (“I am nobody’s plastic cup. I am a golden goblet!” perhaps I’d proclaim).

It might be helpful information to have, so that you’d know where you stood before getting your hopes up. Sure, the “maybe” could change to a “yes” when they meet you in person—but you’ll at least know that as of now, their baseline physical attraction towards you is tepid. Proceed humbly.


Q: “Can you continue a friendship with someone if they like you as more than a friend?”

Three Lyft passengers included me in their conversation, centered around the above question.

“I think it’s not so much whether they’re interested in me as how they treat me when we hang out. Do I feel uncomfortable? Are they staring at me a little too intensely? Are their eyes not always on my face but other parts of my body? Do they make comments about my appearance that aren’t passed off in an earnest or friendly way? Do they make moves even after I’ve told them I only want to be friends? Or do they accept my boundaries and show up for me the way friends do for each other? Those are the questions I ask myself.

If their behavior communicates acceptance that we won’t be more than friends, then I can do it. I just have to feel safe when we hang out– not preyed upon.”

“I think the romantic feelings still leak out in subtle ways sometimes, and when they do I feel uncomfortable. Not just because it reminds me there’s a power imbalance but because I feel both violated– even if it wasn’t their intention for me to– and guilty at the same time.”

“Guilty about what?” her friends asks her. She clarifies, “Guilty for not reciprocating those feelings.”


“In my experience it’s just always gone south. I don’t think you can have an honest friendship when one person develops feelings, because they’ll always want more. They’ll get let down again and again. At some point or another they’ll start to feel like a victim.”


“I think you can. It’s hard, but you can. The person with feelings just has to keep performing reality checks. They have to keep regulating their emotions. If it wasn’t possible to be friends with people you had feelings for, then how could gay men be friends with straight guys they find attractive, or how could lesbians have friendships with heterosexual women?”

“I think once a friendship reaches a certain level of closeness you just learn to compartmentalize those deeper feelings if you do have them. Until they’re not even on your radar anymore. You train your mind to think of the person as only a friend.”

She talks about how it boils down to emotional regulation; when you start feeling like a victim you train yourself out of that mindset. Think of it as mentally hoisting yourself out of that sludgy cognitive space.

“Everyone’s capable of doing that, I think. If your thoughts led to you feeling like a victim in a friendship that you willingly participated in and helped to build, then it’s entirely within your control to reverse the thinking that brought you to that mindset.”


“I think it’s different if you’re straight or gay and you have a crush on someone with a different sexual orientation than you.”

“How?” friend asks.

“Like it’s less of an ego blow if they don’t like you back. You can just tell yourself, ‘They’re not into me because they’re not attracted to dudes. If they were, we’d totally be dating right now.’ You can like, comfort yourself with that thought.”


Dating’s Fun! Take it from a Five-Year-Old

I pick up two older girls and a little boy in front of the Van Ness Theater. The little boy sits in the middle, and the two older girls sit at either side of him. 

“We were trying to see Assassins, but it was sold out,” the little boy explains. “So now we’re going to see it at the Presidio Theater.”

They get to talking amongst themselves.

Older Girl 1: “Is your mom seeing anyone right now?

Kid: “Kinda… not really anymore.”

Older Girl 1: “What does kinda not really anymore mean?”

Kid: “She was kinda seeing a few people recently, but more just for the fun of dating.”

Older Girl 2: “Is dating fun?”

Kid: “I’d say so.”

Older Girl 2: “From personal experience?” (said with big smile).

The little boy doesn’t understand the humor in what he just said. 

Kid, in a matter-of-fact way: “From talking to people.”


# Lyft Overheard

Person 1: “What do you do to be okay with that? Dating someone casually.”

Person 2: “I meditate.”


Mom and Teenage Son Talk Dating

Mom: “How are things with Manda, you ask her to be your girlfriend yet?”

The son hesitates.

Mom: “I don’t want you to be single. Being single’s not fun.”

Son: “Neither is being with the wrong person.” 

After pausing, son again: “The reason I date people I’m not that into is I’m calmer. I can just be myself. I’m not worked up all the time, the way I am with someone I actually like. I can relax and not have to worry about losing her.”

After pausing again: “I want what I can’t have.”

A look into the mom’s eyes in the rearview mirror tells me she’s having trouble understanding this.

Mom: “I don’t know what that means. You’re a great catch. I don’t understand why you’re self-conscious.”

Son: “It’s not really that I’m self-conscious, Mom. It’s that, I don’t know, a lot of my friends have girlfriends and it’s not that I don’t like them…I’m more just like, why are you with them?”

They take their sandwiches and riveting conversation with them when I drop them off, leaving me to chew on the bits left behind.


Jacuzzi Bar Dates– with Boundaries

I’d love to see this become a thing. Think table-jacuzzi hybrid. A wooden board in the middle of the tub divides the two of you, against which you can rest your drink; you’re each on your own side. This eliminates the possibility for footsie, the expectation of cuddling, and the possibility of your date making you uncomfortable by crossing into your territory (the hot water is just there to ease your nerves– not to encourage sexy time).  

On top of the wooden (vertical) separating board is another (horizontal) board laid flat to function as a table. A candle flickers on top of each one. Flowers, plants, and paintings hang from the walls. Jazz or blues music plays. Waiters bring bar snacks to your jacuzzi table.

(I can imagine straight women feeling uncomfortable doing this with cis hetero men for a first date; maybe it could cater more to the LGBTQ+ population).

Just saying that I would enthusiastically show up to a place like that.

**Thanks for reading! You can follow us IG @lyft_tales for more.


Photo credits

Hospital beds–


Milkshake daters—

Rose’s Taproom —

Wooden hot tub —

Dating app —

Published by esteph42190

A 30-year-old queer bilingual writer born and raised in the Bay Area, I’ve been writing since before I knew how to spell. Balancing my generative energy with a desire to inform, as a child I printed and distributed to classmates publications that included The News Newsletter and Health Digest (ironic considering I also ran an illicit candy business that landed me in the principal’s office several times). As a student at UC Davis I wrote for The California Aggie, with pieces ranging from an exploration of gender roles in the movie Tangled to my own weekly psychology column. After graduating I kept a bilingual blog of my 14 months living in Montevideo, Uruguay, and upon returning continued to blog about social issues and human psychology.

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