Five Observations About Trying to Find a Date on the Internet in 2014

Recently single, I decided to test the waters on Craigslist. Here’s what caught my eye.

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When I was in my 20s, and stinging after a break-up, I would sometimes place a personal ad on Craigslist. I did so half seriously, half on a lark — I know a couple who met on Craigslist and who are now happily married with two children. So why not?

The answers were often entertaining, and sometimes random: once an ex-boyfriend replied (no, you’re really not a nice guy). And I actually met two men there: One was a former Navy Seal who occupied my time for a summer; the other was an environmentalist who showed up in a pleather duster and talked in a way that made me consider shimmying out of the bar’s bathroom window.


I find myself on the single side of things again, and even though I've vowed to not date until April, I placed an ad in Philadelphia and South Jersey anyway, just to see what would come of it.

In two weeks, I got about 60 responses (some of them were doubles, obviously guys sending the same response to anyone who posted). I noticed five things in those 60 replies. What I've quoted here has not been altered, except to redact the names of the not necessarily innocent.

1. Pictures
I was surprised by how many men sent them — more so than the last time I gave Craigslist a go. This could be because more of us have cameras on our phones (almost all of these photos were selfies), or because Facebook has made us more comfortable sharing pictures with strangers. Shockingly, no one sent me a dick pic. However, some men sent me pictures that also included their children. Guys, I know they're cute, but leave your kids out of this, okay?

2. Disdain
My ad was not a win for everyone, but instead of passing it by, they sent me notes like: "Realy, back to the earth, those guy doesnt exist, maybe in movies" and "How about just being civil and fair to AllOthers"

My ad was also flagged as breaking Craigslist's terms of service, and removed from the South Jersey site. I'm pretty sure it didn't actually break the terms of service, but rather that one guy  saw something he didn't like, and reported it.

3. One Liners
These men were possibly looking for a hook up — thinking that if I replied to something like "Good evening how are you ?" or "How are you tonight? or "still looking?" or "Hey there" or "Are you pretty!!!!?" that I might be down. Others sent their phone numbers and told me to text them so we could chat that night.

Well, I am pretty and still looking — but not looking for that.

4. Interesting Interpretations of Grammar
It's not like I'm looking for someone who can hold a deep debate on the value of the Oxford comma, nor would I nix someone for using too many adverbs, but still, things got interesting. The two best/worst replies:

"Hey im a 34 years old 5'10 in good shape im looking to meet new people I was born in europe ben here for 18 years I like to travel and spending time at home watching a good comedy if you are interested or need to know more just ask"

"Hi my name is [REDACTED] I am 27 from blackwood nj I would like to know more about you I won't hurt u I am real here's my picture"

I'm not looking for perfect grammar, but capitalization at the start of and periods at the end of sentences would be helpful.

5. Real, Thoughtful Responses
A handful of responders wrote replies that showed they read the ad and had something to say back. Some sent pictures, some didn't. They seem like nice guys who, like me, haven't found the pea for their pod just yet. There are worse ways to meet men. I've set these replies aside for when I'm ready to leave hibernation.

Follow @byJenAMiller on Twitter.

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