Last week, I turned the tables and asked you for advice on what the next Dos & Don'ts topic should be. Well, the masses have spoken, and though there was a fair amount of interest in every option presented, with five out of the six topics ranging around 15 percent in the poll, the clear winner is Craigslist personals with about 24 percent of the votes. Far be it from me to let you down.
Of the multitude of online dating sites available today, Craigslist is perhaps the most casual. And I'm not referring to the casual encounters section here--indeed, I won't be touching that one with a 10-foot pole. Rather, personals posted in Craigslist are ads with an expiry date, rather than the in-depth profiles found on sites such as Match.com and OkCupid. As such, finding a date or mate through this particular site requires a bit of a different tack. The tips below should help you navigate the choppy sea that is Craigslist dating.
First, the obvious: DON'T ever invite a complete stranger directly to your home or other private location, such as a hotel room. This applies for any online dating, really, and I hope that it's common sense. The community aspect of Craigslist--and an innate trust for your fellow human--is all well and good, but as this in-depth Maxim article so astutely points out, not everyone is a decent person. So always arrange an initial meeting in a public spot with plenty of other people present, such as a cafe.
That bit of unpleasantness out of the way, it's time to decide what kind of Craiglist user you are: a poster or a peruser? If the former, DO make sure you post your ad in the proper area of the personals section. There are the usual suspects, such as women seeking men (W4M), women seeking women (W4W), and men seeking women (M4W), and then the more niche areas like casual encounters, missed connections, and miscellaneous romance, which covers all manners of alternative relationships. Nothing will get your ad flagged for removal faster than posting in the wrong category.
When it comes time to actually write your ad, DO put some thought behind it. If you're lacking inspiration, check out some other ads on the site and see what appeals to or even entertains you. You might even come across something like this ad (warning: adult language) which offers some rather handy tips whether you're a W4W or otherwise. Similarly, this blog has some useful advice for the M4W set. DON'T write in all caps is a priceless gem from both posts.
As for the nitty-gritty of your ad, I turned to a Craigslist study to back up some of my own opinions. Namely, DON'T be overly boastful and try not to sound bitter about dating. Also, DO include a catchy and descriptive headline and keep the content of your ad short and sweet, three paragraphs or less should be sufficient.
Further, rather than focusing on an exhaustive list of the features and traits your ideal mate should posses, DO provide an insightful overview of yourself and your interests. (That's not to say you shouldn't mention what you're looking for, but avoid a "laundry list" of must-haves.) Finally, DON'T be rude, bigoted, or inflammatory--it's not attractive, and even if you're being sarcastic in an attempt to be funny, it could be read the wrong way and get your ad flagged for removal.
Now for all you voyeurs out there: DON'T fall for spambots or typical Craigslist personality prototypes (warning: adult language)--unless of course you're into that sort of thing. Also, DO peruse missed connections--there's no telling when there might be a post aimed at you or even someone you know. This section is also probably the most nonthreatening place to dip your toes into posting your own ad, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the results (take it from someone who once posted a successful missed connections ad).
Have a Craigslist personals success--or horror--story of your own? Please share it below! And as always, I welcome tips from others in the comment section as well.