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How to Date in San Francisco When Everyone Tells You It’s Too Hard

By Emyli LovzMay 17, 2019SF Bay Area
how to date in san francisco

Believe me, I hear it all the time: “It’s too hard to date in San Francisco” or “Why is it so hard to date in San Francisco?” 

But as a dating coach based in San Francisco with many clients in the area, I’m here to tell you: No it’s not.

In fact, I’m going to show you how to improve your chances of not only scoring high quality, amazing dates, but how to find the right long-term relationship for you.


Read on to find out exactly how to date in San Francisco, why it can be frustrating, and what you can do to improve your chances of reaching your dating goals.

First, Don’t Date Women Who Have Different Priorities Than You

San Francisco is a massive city, and singles come here for a plethora of reasons. Personally, I moved here from Los Angeles to finish my degree at Berkeley and begin my 100-date experiment. I wanted to go on no less than 100 dates in order to find out what made dating and relationships tick. I certainly wasn’t looking for “the one” (although I did find him eventually!).

What about you? Make a list of reasons why you moved here (or continue to live here) and then prioritize them. Was it for a job, to find a partner to marry, to improve your social life, to go to school, to explore a new city, to become the world’s top entrepreneur, or something else?

My point is, if your top priority is to find a meaningful relationship, not every woman you meet in San Francisco will value that as much as you do.

For example, her top priorities while living in San Francisco might look like this:

  1. Finish her law degree
  2. Spend time with her adult sorority, The Spinsters
  3. Date men

If your first priority is finding a relationship, and that’s actually her third priority, then you’ll be the one chasing her. And we all know that’s a recipe for frustration.

So before you roll out the red carpet for anyone, see if you can get a feel for her priorities in life. Like I mentioned before, San Francisco is a huge city, and so it attracts people who have big dreams — and those dreams may take away from their dating life in a major way. When you decide to pursue someone in a big city like this, first make sure they have time and energy for you.

Think Twice Before You Pull Out Your Wallet

Simply existing in San Francisco is expensive. So you don’t want to spend tons of cash on dates that go nowhere. Sadly, that’s really easy to do in a city like this, where everything costs and arm and a leg.


That being said, why are you taking women out to dinner on the first or second date? One study done by Elite Singles estimated the average cost of a typical date in San Francisco to be $140, which is crazy. Scheduling a dinner date with someone you’re not sure about yet is a surefire way to throw money down the drain. And don’t even think about asking her to split the bill. That might help with the cost, but it’ll take you down a notch in her eyes.

That’s why I always recommend you follow my blueprint when dating someone new:

  • First date: Spend no more than $10-$15 (as in, a cup of coffee at an eclectic location). On this date, you want to build trust and rapport.
  • Second date: Make it something active that is also free (think an outdoor hike, bike ride, etc.) The activity can also help you build sexual tension, which is important if you want things to go further.
  • Third date: The dinner is acceptable. By now, you’ll truly feel she’s worth the investment and won’t regret spending the money. This is the date where you can get to know her on a deeper level, with the possibility of intimacy.

If you’re strapped for dating ideas, be sure to take a look at my list of Over 50 San Francisco Date Ideas for first, second, and third dates. In that article, I’ve listed all my favorite spots, and discuss the unique aspects of each one. By the time you finish the guide, you’ll be armed with tons of new ideas that are guaranteed to impress.

Get Serious About Your Dating Strategy

Think about how you approach dating. You may think it’s hard to date in San Francisco simply because your strategy for getting dates is lacking. Do you have any kind of plan? Or do you simply log on to Tinder a couple times a day and hope you have a match? 

When figuring out how to date in San Francisco, it’s wise to have a full, 360-degree dating strategy to make sure you’re taking advantage of everything that’s available to help you meet women and get dates. Let me show you what that looks like.

First, you need to be using (at minimum) five dating apps. But at the same time, you need to know when to put the phone down and find date in other ways. Here are some quick ideas for meeting women outside of online dating:

  • Through friends: Let people know you’re single and available, and ask friends to hook you up if they can. You don’t have to sound desperate, though … in other words, no begging for dates! Just casually let it slip into conversation as much as possible, so that it stays on the top of people’s minds.
  • Speed dating: Yep, this is still around. The main advantage to speed dating is that you’ll actually sit down with women and sharpen your conversational skills. Unlike online dating, you’ll get guaranteed facetime with several women in a short period, which could increase your dating opportunities way more than you think. After all, they can’t swipe left without at least talking to you first!
  • Group exercise classes: I recommend yoga classes specifically, since there are so many women there, but any exercise class will do. It’s lowkey, because you’ll both have something in common to talk about. A similar option might be dance classes, since they’re usually short on men.

Above anything else, limit the time you spend intoxicated at bars. It can be addicting — trust me, I know — but the chances of finding a woman at a bar who’s fully on your wavelength are pretty low. Not only that, but you won’t be an accurate judge in that state of mind, anyway.

Start Listening to Your Dates More

Once you get into the habit of thinking about how hard it is to date in San Francisco, your dating life might start to feel a bit dull. It might even seem like all your dates are starting to feel the same.

But let me ask you this: When you’re on a date, do you talk nonstop about your startup, your city flat, where you went to school, how much money you’ll have when you get your IPO payout? Or do you ask insightful questions in order to truly get to know your date?


If you’re doing more talking than listening, maybe you’re taking up too much time with your own chatter … which can get boring for her real quick. Maybe it’s time to shift more of the focus onto getting to know your dates better, so everything feels less routine.

It will also make your dates more successful. Consider this: A smart man spends 70% of the time listening on a date, all while taking mental notes. Why? Because first, before you set up a second date, you’ll need to know what her interests and priorities are. And second, listening makes her feel valued, which is something so few of us city-dwellers bother to take time to do.

For example, you could ask her what her dating goals are (this is key to determining your compatibility), why she lives in San Francisco (again, are her priorities the same as yours?), what she likes doing on weekends (it’ll help you plan a second date), what kind of food she likes, and so forth. Here’s few articles to help you structure questions for dates 1, 2, and 3. 

So instead of going on autopilot and reciting your usual first-date speech, let her lead by telling you about her life and interests. You’ll get a better sense of her, which will lead to more informed choices about whether you want to take her on a second date (and where). And if you stop talking about the same things you usually do, your dates will start to feel more unique — making you more likely to stay engaged and enjoy your dating life.

Set Up the Second Date Quickly to Beat Any Competition

Dating is competitive in any big city, and San Francisco is no different. If I could only give you one piece of advice about how to date in San Francisco, it would be to lock in a second date while you’re on the first one. There are a couple of benefits to this.

For one thing, if she already knows she’s seeing you the next weekend, she naturally won’t look at her dating apps as much on the days leading up to it, which means other guys will have less of a chance to hijack her interest.

Also, you won’t have to text back and forth to set it up. This is big, actually. Why? The second date is all about building sexual tension. One of the biggest sources of sexual tension is mystery … but over-texting between dates kills mystery.

So, pretend your phone doesn’t have a text feature and schedule your second date in person while you’re still on the first. This will be much easier if you’re paying attention to what she says. Here’s an example of how it could go:


YOU: I’ve been in San Francisco for two years now and feel like I still haven’t seen it all.

Her: Same! I’ve always wanted to hike Mount Tam but never had the chance.

YOU: Me too — I heard it’s going to be super sunny this upcoming weekend. What do you say we just go for it – pick you up at Saturday at 10am? 

Since she specifically expressed interest in hiking, then hiking Mount Tam is your second date plan. All you have to add is the day and time.

Take the bait and use it to your advantage. And because she’s the one who expressed interest in it first, she’s likely to say yes. Caveat: If she turns you down based on her busy schedule, quickly offer up another day – like the following Saturday. Always try and overcome her objections. 

Make an Effort to Date Multiple Women

Consider setting up multiple dates with women until you find one who has the same dating and relationship goals you have. Otherwise, you might fall victim to losing women and leaving yourself with no future dates in sight.

In fact, you might want to set a goal for the number of total dates you will go on before you settle down with one woman. As I mentioned before, when I moved to San Francisco my number was 100 — but 20 or 25 is just as good.

Counting first, second, and third dates toward that goal can be a fun way to date without getting too wrapped up in the outcome. When you focus on the process and enjoy the experience while staying present in the moment, everything gets better. For example, a bad date becomes a funny story. A weird chick becomes a case study. It all gets less stressful when you turn it into an experiment.

Hire an Expert and Watch Your Dating Life Skyrocket

If you’re new to San Francisco (or even the U.S.) it’s a perfect time to work with a dating coach like me to help you reach your goals. Whether you want to find a girlfriend, or just discover new strategies for dating effectively, it can be tough to learn how to date in San Francisco without help. Changes in geography can raise all kinds of questions around how to meet women and connect with them, despite regional or national differences you may have.


That said, I’m here for you. If you book a New Client 1-on-1 Skype Session with me, we can go through your questions together and come up with a plan to make your dating life successful here in San Francisco. Dating in this city is what you make of it — so it’s time to dive in and make your best effort!