"Looking"-­ The Search for Friends and Lovers in SF

"Find Something Real"- Tagline to HBO's series "Looking" about three gay friends living and loving in modern day San Francisco.

How successful have you been in finding "something real" in your journey in the Bay Area?  In this salon, we will share our experiences in finding friends, boyfriends and in general, building community in San Francisco.

What do you look for in a friend?  A boyfriend?  What are the most important qualities you look for in each?

How do you go about looking for friends and boyfriends?  What blocks have you encountered?  What successes have you achieved?

Do you ever have problems deciding whether a particular guy is friend or boyfriend material?  What is the difference between the two?

If you're single, have you experienced pressures regarding your single status?  Do you find that there is pressure to find someone?  With the advent of same-sex marriage, has this pressure increased?

Some say San Francisco can be a tough place to make friends or find a boyfriend or lover.  Is this always true?  If so, why is this the case?  Are there qualities about the gay scene that makes things more difficult?  Are there things about San Francisco that make it harder (than say, Iowa?) to find friends and lovers?

Recent positive psychology studies have posited that social interaction and a sense of connection to others is one of the most important elements of happiness for an individual.  Do you agree with this assessment?  Are you satisfied with your level of social connection to others?

How can we make it easier to find friends and lovers and otherwise build community in SF?


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  • James T.

    Adam, that is a very very complicated question. I honestly don't believe success in relationships can be titrated to just those characteristics. But, if I were to pick from your list, I'd say effort and attitude ranks the highest, with bit of innate ability factored in. But what do you define innate ability to mean?

    1 · May 24

    • Keith

      When you "work at relationships" you are becoming your core self. Your core self is who you really are and is what people resonate with and connect to. Problems are road maps to your core self. My grandfather used to say “you cannot sell from an empty wagon.” How can someone relate/like/or love you if you don’t know who you are?

      June 14

    • Lee R.

      good points I think; thanks.

      June 14

  • Adam J. B.

    For career/financial success, people often argue about how much effort & attitude vs. innate ability vs. luck come into play. For relationship success, which of those is most important? And do you consistently believe the primary driver for career/financial success is the same driver for relationship success (e.g. if you believe effort & attitude can bootstrap anyone to a financially successful life can the same effort & attitude land a great romantic relationship... or are matters of the heart different and perhaps rely more on luck)?

    1 · May 24

    • Lee R.

      Yep, and I remain puzzled about some I know who seem both willing and desirable but never seem to get connected. Is a puzzlement.

      June 13

    • Wonsun

      Same thing is true for professional life, no? There are many hardworking talented people but their careers are just not going anywhere?

      June 14

  • Lee R.

    It's great to see people having serious discussions from these Salons. Some of us might want to consider trying the pulldown Menu above titled Discussions to make these readily accessible end encourage continuing discussion.

    June 13

    • David K.

      For years I operated a monthly discussion group called Gay Geeks. It was the original group with that name, going back to 1997. Anyhow, we typically had 30-40 people and we'd do a free-range discussion which could touch on everything from religion to streetcar technology. I tried to restart it a couple times but in these days of Grindr and Craigslist, et al., it just doesn't seem to catch anymore. I may try to restart it again in the future, but I've got to change the name because now people identify the generic term "gay geeks" as gay board game players and sci-fi fans.

      June 13

  • Bill V.

    I'm having last minute reservations about going... I'm kinda shy and find it difficult to speak up when I'm with a group of strangers. What do you guys recommend I do?

    June 11

    • Lorenzo

      Korki's right. Just throw yourself in the mix and speak up when you feel comfortable. Lots of guys come who are quiet - maybe too many who like the sounds of their own voices - but its a friendly place and whatever our communication style, we're all here to learn and connect.

      3 · June 13

    • Wonsun

      How did it go, Bill? I hope you enjoyed it. :-)

      June 13

  • Michael

    The take away for me: others also rather meet people in person in social groups like this meet up, Gay4good.org, Frontrunners.org, ect in person over online.

    June 12

    • David K.

      As for bars I've found that I like the quiet ones best, especially the Powershouse on Monday or Tuesday nights after 10pm. I get into great conversations about real interests, but unfortunately none of these ever results in a date. Usually it turns out the guys are visitors from other cities and are only in town for a day. I've offered to show them the sights (I'm an expert in quirky things to see and do), but only once has this worked out.

      1 · June 12

    • James T.

      I've had the same experience David, where sometimes they don't seem vested in the conversion and communication just dies without any forewarning.

      June 12

  • Mordecai E.

    Wonsun, I was also moved by your comment and it truly resonated for me. I regret missing what sounds like an engaging and fantastic event. If you schedule a gathering, I'd certainly like to attend.

    1 · June 12

    • Wonsun

      Of course, Mordecai. No worries. Look at this as the beginning of possible connections. If you have any idea or places you'd like to check out with others, let us know. We'll figure something out. :-)

      June 12

  • Duncan M.

    Very impressive! The organizers made a large and potentially unwieldy event work. The men in my subgroup were very interesting to talk with.

    1 · June 11

    • David K.

      That's great to hear! I guess I underestimated the potential that this would work. Meanwhile I went to the KALW donor appreciation party and met some folks there and then to the Rev to hear a Django-style string band and met a couple folks there, but none gay, alas.

      June 12

  • Wonsun

    I enjoyed meeting great people with sincere discussion on searching for friends and lovers in SF. The take-away for me is that we are all searching and many of us haven't found. Perhaps it's time to try something different for some of us. Inspired by Jeremy's link to Dr. Brené Brown's TEDTalk, let's try asking people out more often and allow us to be vulnerable. When we are honest about our intention and put ourselves out there, the true connections are more likely to happen. And this applies to both friends and lovers.

    Want to try a restaurant around the corner? Pick up the phone and start texting/calling. Don't stop until you find someone who says yes. Can't find anyone today? Try again tomorrow.

    Want to see a movie? Send messages to people and ask them out. There are 109 gay men on this list that want to make new friends or find a lover. A great place to start!

    Let's make today the best day of our lives. :)

    Cheers!

    7 · June 12

    • Michael

      Brene Brown Ted talk is very powerful and can bee seen here: https://www.ted.com/ta...­

      1 · June 12

    • David K.

      I guess it's me, then, because the last thing I'd want to do on a date is go to a movie. I am normally bored with movies, and the experience is not a shared experience but two individual experiences that could easily be done at home. My idea of a date would be to go to the railroad museum in Rio Vista and ride the old streetcars, or take the ferryboat under the bridge to Jack London Square and then have a drink at the First & Last Chance Saloon (where London wrote 2 of his books), or get out our musical instruments and try to jam something together. Or play a game of 500 rummy. I don't meet any guys who want to do any of those things for a date.

      June 12

  • Lee R.

    Delighted that many seem to have found this event beneficial. Thanks for attending and sharing from your experiences and feelings.

    1 · June 12

  • Tony L.

    I am utterly sad that I missed this event. A raging chest cold kept me away. See you soon!

    June 12

  • David

    A lot of nice thought provoking perspectives.....

    June 11

  • Joel

    Excellent discussion

    June 11

  • Ellison

    Sorry to miss it tonight but some work came in today I must address tonight. :-(
    But it's important work that may help us keep the Veterans + Community Media Center open. Hope to see you all next meeting.

    June 11

  • Mordecai E.

    You go Bill. Glad to hear you'll be attending. I alas, despite really looking forward to this event (unintentional pun, but now I'm going with it. . . ), need to cancel. I hope the next event will rivet as many peoples' attention. I expect a full report. Enjoy boys.

    June 11

  • Paul A.

    I've been looking forward to this event and the turnout shows I'm not alone. But I've come down with some sort of cold. Bummmmer.

    June 11

  • David K.

    TOO MUCH SUCCESS. I may bow out given that the latest count showed that 120 people were going. That's a lot to cram into the small space available at the GBLT center. And even moving to a larger room, where are the small group break-outs going to go?

    1 · June 11

    • TED T.

      I agree. 120 is more than I expected for this event.

      June 11

    • Michael

      120 RSVP's!@! That's a lot of bottoms. I bet about 70 people will show up tonight.

      June 11

  • Bruce Justin M.

    Another bridge to cross when we all arrive. How about one group outside under the nearly full moon...maybe one over coffee at Starbucks or a restaurant?

    June 11

  • Bruce Justin M.

    You just did the hard work Bill. I suggest you now take a few deep breaths, enjoy the day, and look forward to a great evening.

    June 11

  • Jeremy B.

    A 20 minute TEDx talk (Dr. Brené Brown - Wholeheartedness) to consider: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0. How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough -- that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy?

    2 · June 10

    • David K.

      Personally, I don't bother with most TED talks because I find them pretentious and done by people who don't have well-rounded lives. For instance, what is "authenticity"­ and "worthiness"? What do those terms actually mean here? Also, the idea that "we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy" strikes me as gobbledygook. Many of us are NOT worthy of love because we don't love others; many are NOT worthy of joy because we spend our lives in sarcasm, saying biting things for sake of humor that really poison our outlook on life. And as for belonging, well, one must become a joiner in order to belong. I'm involved in several social groups, and I get invited to events and into people's lives because I put forth a lot of effort to belong. NOTHING comes for free, and we must earn our places in society. That's just the way it is.

      2 · June 10

    • Wonsun

      Sorry that you didn't find it useful for you, David. We find our inspirations and opportunities for growth in different ways. Glad that you've found yours.

      2 · June 10

  • Wonsun

    I have no cable service. I'll be looking for "Looking" to watch before the meeting. :-)

    2 · June 10

    • Lorenzo

      The cable show is just a depiction of what it is like for gay men to look for friends and lovers in San Francisco. Not a pre-requisite for the discussion. I'm pretty sure that most guys there will not have seen the show, but have very similar experiences to share.

      2 · June 10

    • Wonsun

      I just stormed through the shows. LOL. I actually like the show. It seems a bit over-the-top but a fun show to watch.

      June 10

  • sanjay kumar p.

    Im a content developer for www.ssn.tv

    June 10

    • TED T.

      Apparently I need assistance with communication equipment.

      1 · June 10

  • John DiQuattro J.

    I am interested to hear what this group has to share. I think with socoal media, i phone, grinder, and the computer everone seems to be looking down rather than at each other making meeting face to face more of a challenge.

    2 · June 9

    • David K.

      I have no problem meeting people; I meet new folks every day. But I don't meet gay or bi men who have any interests. I do a LOT of things and could really use a sidekick, but that hasn't happened.

      June 9

    • Keith

      I wonder if the “looking down at your I phone syndrome” is just an outward manifestation of a more inward problem (to get philosophical for a minute :0)). My thought is if you are going to be a truly present lover or friend you need to understand yourself and in our culture today self-development (i.e., developing self or life skills) is very popular but self-examination (which can lead to self-understanding) is really less common than 20-30 years ago. Be interested to hear people's thoughts.

      1 · June 10

  • A former member
    A former member

    Regarding the location of the meeting, what are the parking options?

    June 7

    • Brian

      best to take public transit

      3 · June 9

    • David K.

      I usually find parking within 2 blocks along Market or one of the side streets.

      1 · June 10

  • Mordecai E.

    I like the way you think David-- less work more play.

    1 · June 9

  • Adam J. B.

    I'd be very curious to hear from people who spent their early 20s until now in San Francisco regarding this discussion point "Some say San Francisco can be a tough place to make friends or find a boyfriend or lover. Is this always true?" I suspect transplants (like myself), in retrospect, often downplay the time it took to cultivate friendships in our previous city; also we likely have busier lives now than we had in our just-out-of-college stage so we aren't afforded the same amount of free time to meet as many people and have as many repeat social interactions while out and about.

    5 · June 8

    • David K.

      I was in SF in my 20s, during the disco era, and I made friends, but most of them didn't last. Today I have a nodding acquaintance with about 5 from that time, but none I'd consider friends today. I see people today in their 20s making friends, so I don't think that has changed much. But as people get older I think that they give themselves less free time and thus don't have as many opportunities to get to know new folks.

      2 · June 9

    • David K.

      To fluff out the comment a bit, what I'm getting at is that as many people get older they begin to collect lots of things that cost money, so they work longer hours, thus depriving themselves of the time they could be spending meeting people and hanging out. I'm a big believer in Slack, the concept of doing as little work as possible.

      3 · June 9

  • Jonathan T.

    Hello,

    This is my first time at this meet up. You usually have a book and a speaker?

    June 6

    • Adam J. B.

      We never have a book. Sometimes we have a speaker that will speak for a maximum of 15-20 minutes, but that is not the case for this particular event. Our events revolve around intellectual discussion among peers in small groups of about 10 people (with a little time at the end for sharing a summary of insights with the larger full group).

      2 · June 6

  • Gilbert Joseph Alexander O.

    I am hoping to attend the group.
    Thanks

    June 6

  • Patrick

    It looks as though we are going to have a great group to discuss the topic of "Looking" -- I am certainly looking forward to this.

    Also, i want to say that there will not be any outside guest speaker this month so all the learning, discussing and tips etc. that we may pick up will be from our group of peers -- and some of our peers i am sure have had successful relationships, dating and frienships.

    One of our group members mentioned a book a few months ago that others found to be helpful. That book is titled "If I'm So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Single?" By Susan Page. The title might be a bit rough but perhaps someone might find it helpful or to provide some insight.

    See you soon.

    5 · May 31

  • TED T.

    Yes David. I'm seeking the very same thing. It's been hard to find do far.

    May 28

  • David K.

    I have a lot of interests, passions, and hobbies, but the finding a like-minded gay/bi man has been very very hard. Maybe I'll pick up some how-to tips at this event?

    May 27

  • Michael D.

    I fully expect the perfect boyfriend will be found at this event. Expectations too high maybe? ;-) (kidding, I'm only a partial basket case...)

    2 · February 26, 2014

    • Adam J. B.

      It's an intellectual discussion with a very short introduction (5-10 minutes) beforehand. You'll spend the majority of the time discussing this topic in a group of 8-10 guys with the last 30 minutes reserved for a larger discussion among all attendees.

      1 · May 25

    • James T.

      Cool beans. Sound fun!

      2 · May 25

  • TED T.

    Yes James. Learned behavior is a critical component in our ability to form and maintain relationships. We are born only with the instincts we need to survive, with development we discover the world around us and come to understand connections to others. If this process is not supported by being made to feel loved and wanted ,at this developmental stage, we experience narrsircistic damage which often prevents connecting successfully to others.

    3 · May 25

  • TED T.

    Yes James. Learned behavior is a critical component in our ability to form and maintain relationships. We are born only with the instincts we need to survive, with development we discover the world around us and come to understand connections to others. If this process is not supported by being made to feel loved and wanted ,at this developmental stage, we experience narrsircistic damage which often prevents connecting successfully to others.

    1 · May 25

  • Lee R.

    In my view arising after long observation and experience, the luck -- or not -- of our upbringing is the central factor in success in relationships, whether friends or lovers. Perhaps it has a genetic component, but it is this childhood experience that seems most critical. Few of us, certainly not I, had ideal training in "learning how" but with commitment and effort and self-honesty, it IS possible to progress. One of the most important aspects is the willingness to examine difficulties and seek solutions with the other person. ..... In my experience the most useful single thing I did, after the ending of a 10 year partner relationship, was to go to a workshop on relationships -- and then repeat it twice more as I found it successful (for those interested see <http://www.hendricks.com/tr_foundation/>;). More generally, it's all in Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" -- but it's really hard to incorporate consistently in my own behavior!

    May 24

  • Mordecai E.

    This looks like a truly compelling event which addresses many of the questions which have been playing on my mind recently. I hope to be able to make it.

    1 · May 23

  • Addison L.

    Hi, I love to meet multicultural friends who I can have intellectual conversations with. I have a MPA degree. I am interested in sociology, public policy and globalization. I am looking forward to the meeting.

    April 17

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