I couldn’t help it; his email was password was just too easy to crack. His cat’s name? He must’ve wanted me to take a peek.
My fingers hesitantly pecked at the inbox, and suddenly, I was reading my recent ex’s email. To my horror, he had placed a singles ad on Craigslist. He truly was moving on.
I’d like to say I didn’t sit home feeling sorry for myself, but, of course, that would be lying. Weeks passed; I started to flirt a little. But at 36, it seemed every cute or kind man near my age was married with children. I’d heard it said that the older you are, the harder it is to start over, and the fewer the decent, eligible men there are. Was it really true? I was starting to feel like an overripe piece of fruit on a tree, about to rot. Had I held out too long for the perfect man?
Eventually I got sick of throwing myself pity parties; I had to try something. Ahh, I thought. Craigslist is free — and anonymous.
And my ex was trying it, why shouldn’t I? I wondered what would happen if I posted a wish list online.
Sure, Craigslist has had its share of troubles (the Craigslist Killer and getting roofied comes to mind) but I’d be using the online personals section — which is for legitimate dating — and not the “casual encounters” section — which is just what it sounds like. Would it be possible to find just what I wanted?
To summon my courage, I got in touch with my inner Angelina Jolie, imagining myself sweeping across the globe on humanitarian missions with a tall, handsome, loving, financially-secure humanitarian at my side. We’d save the world and love each other, maybe even start a family. What an amazing life we’d live!
I invented an email address for myself and posted my ad: LOOKING FOR A HUMANITARIAN. I poured my heart into it. It read:
Do you exist? I’m tired of people telling me that I care too much. I’m looking for some one who “gets it” — you know, someone who loves to do all he can to make the world a better place, wherever he is. One day it could be talking with a troubled teenager, the next it could be helping to bring clean water to an impoverished community. Perhaps “kind” says it all.
Why? It’s hard to explain. I’ve never married and have been holding out for you, perhaps. I see myself as empowering and helping such an individual on their path to heal the world with positive energy and possible romance. I want to be by your side. We can keep each other going — keep each other idealistic and focused on what matters most.
I can dream, can’t I? I hope you exist. I hope you’re a true gentleman with a tender, open heart. Under 50 please and unmarried. Thank you for reading.
I pushed the “Post” button and held my breath. In the days that followed, emails began dripping into my inbox. I chatted online with a few, but quickly learned to ask for their photo upfront. If they didn’t send one, it was time to be suspicious that they were married or hiding for some other reason.
After sifting through the emails, I was disappointed—too many men over 50 (out of my range) and even some photos from perverts.
My responders weren’t too convincing. Thinking that my ad was maybe too dramatic, I varied it a little, got some responses and went on a few dates: twice with a pilot, then with a man who showed up drunk. Then the responses went dead.
My next ad — TALL, BLONDE LOIS LANE SEEKS SUPERMAN — read:
Do you believe women deserve to be treated with chivalry? Are you an everyday hero — you know, are you trying to make the world a better place one day at a time? Are you taller than 5’9, single, white, straight, and younger than 45? Are you kind, somewhat handsome, healthy but not health-obsessed, not a user or a hater?
I’m a reporter who tries to fight the good fight on an everyday basis. I believe the power of human kindness changes the world. I’m somewhat intelligent, somewhat attractive, and recently single… Looking for my own personal hero—you know, some one I can respect and love as my counterpart, who’ll recharge my batteries and my soul. Are you out there? If so, please put “Superman” in your subject line and tell me about you.
Pay dirt! 46 Supermen responded. I started to interview them by email and was soon overwhelmed. It was exhausting, but in that feeling-like-a-hot-rock-star kind of way. In writing the “tall, blonde” advertisement, I had finally realized what I should have known all along: The headline needed to draw guys in.
It had to be written especially for men, and men, as you well know, are visual.
After interviewing a few of the 46, I told my single girlfriends about my new hobby.
They giggled, but felt shy about trying it themselves. They said they were tired of facing rejection. So I started interviewing them about their ideal men, and posting the ads with anonymous email addresses I had created.
Then I’d watch the inbox grow. When their customized ads would hit more than ten responses, I’d let my friends know — giving them their new email address and the password to check in on their new suitors.
I’d like to say that all the men who responded fit the wish lists perfectly, but many of them were serial-responders and couldn’t remember much of the ads that they responded to. Yet sometimes the responses were just personal enough to let you know that you weren’t alone in single-hood.
I learned (among other things) to be more direct about what I want. For example, I now put “must be financially secure” into the profile, and “must live by the Golden Rule” and “lead by example.” There’s nothing wrong with the asking, and many online flirters have liked the direct language in what I wrote.
My girlfriends were suddenly feeling all the delight and anxiety of attention.
The overwhelming number of responses gave us all the confidence to get out and start to date again. We were careful to ask our suitors for photos, and tell each other our whereabouts and the details about where and who our dates would be in case we encountered dangerous men. We all started having fun again.
Granted, most of my friends and I are still searching for Mr. Right, but there have been a few success stories. One guy flew across country to take my friend out–and, yes, he rented a hotel for himself. He seems to be a real life prince charming, and her housemate thinks they’ll be getting married soon.
Another woman recently spent a date dancing in the rain; she thinks the guy’s the one. I had a kind and true gentleman offer to be my handyman whenever I needed one, and I’ve never even kissed him.
I still believe there are quite a few good catches out there, and, actually, I dated a few of them. They weren’t exactly my flavor of ice cream, but they’ll be great for someone. I still haven’t found Mr. Right, but at least I’m not sitting home feeling like a decomposing apple.
Tips For Writing A Craigslist Dating Ad:
1. Put your best assets in the headline.
2. Be clear about what you want. Write a wish-list ahead of time.
3. Ask for a photo and other important information like age, height, etc.
4. Create an “unstalkable” email address that does not have your real name or workplace.
5. Check to see if your responders meet the requirements of your wish-list.
6. Remember that many of the responders copy and paste one slightly vague response to a large number of ads.
7. Meet in a public place and tell your friends where you are going and who you’re going to meet with as much detail as possible. Send them a photo if possible.
8. Stay positive and have a good time!