I Did It For Science: Craigslist Blind Dates

What would happen if I posted a Craigslist ad, and went out with the first ten
guys who responded?

By Lina Canney
 

Hypothesis:

It’s easy to get cynical about dating. How many times have you heard a cute, smart, single guy or girl spout some stupid platitude like, “there are no cute, single straight/gay guys/girls in this city?” I’ll be honest — I’ve not just heard it, I’ve said it. And it’s stupid. There are thousands.

So with Valentine’s Day approaching, I decided to suck it up and embrace a more positive dating attitude. What if, instead of bemoaning the state of the world, whining to my friends, and abusing my vibrator, I just went on a bunch of dates?  
 
I decided I’d start with the most vibrant and lively dating hub of them all — Craigslist. There must be some normal, smart, attractive guys using Craigslist to find a nice girl. After all, I’m a normal, smart, attractive girl using Craigslist to find a nice guy. How hard could it be? I decided I would post a personals ad offering a one-hour date with me, put up a real picture, reply to the first normal-seeming men, and go out on some completely blind dates. 
 
If I left my cynicism behind and forced myself to have a drink with ten different guys, I’d surely meet someone. Right?


 

Materials:

• Several Craigslist ads, as mine kept getting flagged and removed (why, I still don't know). 

• Emergency cab fare.

• One friend on speed-dial, standing by for any emergency calls.

• Pepto-Bismol, for any ailments I might incur while blind-dating.

• Liquor and cigarettes, see above.

Method:

I wasn't looking to change my phone number or move after this experiment, so I assumed a worst-case-scenario outlook and created a fake email address and a fake name — Katrina, which ironically a lot of men told was "such a sexy name." Meow. After establishing my alias and having the first real anxiety attack of my adult life, I posted the following ad on a Thursday afternoon, trying to set up dates for that weekend.

As soon as I posted it, the replies started rolling in. And I'll tell you, it felt pretty good to know all these complete strangers found me attractive, especially since at the time I was sitting in my apartment wearing my bathrobe and mismatched socks.

Some of the responses were not exactly what I’d been hoping for:

But overall, it was a success. In less than an hour, I got responses from ten men who followed my rules and didn't seem insane. Then I hit a snag: I realized that all of these guys wanted to casually email for awhile, get to know me, before meeting in person. After trying to keep up with ten different simultaneous conversations with complete strangers, I inevitably started mixing up their dogs and allergies to dogs, so I had to put a stop to it. I turned into that sketch-ball who only wants to talk about when we’re meeting up. I sent cryptic emails like: “Do you have a picture? How’s 7:30 at Bar B?”

The real fun was yet to come though: coordinating ten dates in two days? Who the hell did I think I was, Patti Stanger? I thought about forwarding an email to all my boys with one-hour slots they could sign up for, but in the end I decided it might scare them away. So instead I trudged through it, tearing my hair out and abusively penciling in and whiting-out dates on my day-planner.

Then, the inevitable happened: they started flaking. After a long back-and-forth, one guy wrote me this on the morning of our date, "Well, I have gigs on Long Island Sat. night and Sunday night. You can come down to one of them if you want?" Dear sir, I wouldn't haul my ass to Long Island to see your band if we were engaged.

Another guy told me he had to go to the DMV that day. The DMV! A bunch just didn’t answer. My ego took a hit — just a few hours ago, they’d been so into me. But I sucked it up, cut my losses, and decided to just go on as many dates as I could. It turned out that was only three.

Commentarium (83 Comments)

Feb 07 11 - 3:28am
Brotato

I'm a nomral guy.

Feb 07 11 - 3:43am
ggg

I enjoyed reading this. Too often these overtly sensational topics derail into overtly sensational, crummy exposition. There is, however, the bugbear realization that this kind of thing could only be pulled off by a female.

Feb 07 11 - 4:45am
hobo

Hmm, I question the validity of your method. It's not exactly a "blind" date if you know what your date looks like and have emailed to him several times. Ok, #1 and #2 were obviously fails, but somehow I wonder what good #3 would have been in the long run as you only kept fantasizing about him pulling your hair....

Feb 07 11 - 7:25am
kas

Neck tattoo is a PRO?

Feb 07 11 - 9:21am
Max

With the way you describe this, your opinion is majorly based on how drunk you are. Is this a good thing?

Feb 07 11 - 11:27am
thinkywritey

By the way, re: your ads getting flagged for removal, it's just a fact of life posting W4M ads. They ALWAYS get flagged – I'm not sure I've ever had one up for more than 10 minutes – and because of the way the system works, there doesn't have to be a reason; there just have to be enough clicks. Apparently, CL does not care about this. My initial thought was it was just men being assholes, but my current theory is that, in fact, it's all the hookers the men complain about systematically flagging all legit W4M ads.

Feb 09 11 - 1:59pm
ausqb

It's not only w4m ads. Legit m4w ads get flagged all the time as well. CL's claim that the majority of flagged ads violate their terms of use is completely bogus, at least with respect to the personals sections.

Feb 07 11 - 11:38am
truthis...

I also have to wonder if you were genuinely yourself during any of this or did you act differently or project someone who you were not to get more out of your experiment? Also what if the guys were simply not into you, and thats why they had to entertain themselves in whatever way to make it through the hour? This whole thing does not seem vaild at all to me.

Feb 07 11 - 12:33pm
meola

Your ratio of cool dudes to basket-cases is not 1 out of 3; it is 1 out of 10. Seems like someone who would rather go to the DMV than meet a pretty girl for a drink qualifies as a basket case.

Feb 07 11 - 12:57pm
Anne

hobo, its folly to assume that the photo's they send, or the words they write are true.

Feb 07 11 - 1:01pm
joey

good piece!

Oct 20 11 - 6:16am
gooey

jolly piece!

Feb 07 11 - 2:28pm
Brendan

Great stuff and super funny. Looking forward to more. Favorite lines "Pro: silver tooth, Con: Wouldn't shut the fuck up".

Feb 07 11 - 2:49pm
Skye

It is a tough world out there, somebody has to do it!

Feb 07 11 - 3:03pm
Katherine

I love your writing style. It's so funny, not sappy (like some other Nerve writers can be), and to the point.

truthis: Who doesn't act at least a little differently on a date? How is there a valid way to accurately judge anything when it comes to dating? This is an article about dating, and obviously we just have to trust the writer's judgment.

hobo: We'll just have to see if there's a second date.

Feb 07 11 - 3:17pm
WithAnInotanE

@Truthis..... Were you one of the boys the writer dated? Sounds like you might be....

Feb 07 11 - 3:24pm
daniel

why would you subject yourself to this ordeal? what happened to the days when people met each other just by living? dont you have any friends would could set you up, or coworkers to date, or why dont you just plain meet people at the bar? you said yourself there were cute guys at the bar, you should have ditched the blind dates and hung out with them. online dating is so superficial and, as you proved to us, mostly unsuccessful.

Feb 07 11 - 3:24pm
lindsay

hahaa, i agree with WithAnInotanE

Feb 07 11 - 3:48pm
Jordan Smith

Very, very funny piece.

Feb 07 11 - 3:48pm
WTF?

@daniel, do you date much? Because most of what you said about online dating applies to real dating too. Oh, yes, have friends and co-workers set you up. Then when the date goes down in flames you get to explain to your friend/co-worker what went wrong, and wonder what the hell kind of person they think you are based on who they set you up with. You can meet plenty of bad dates just by living too. If I'm out at a bar I'd rather hang out with my friends than worry about trying to hit on someone. It's so much easier to online shop for a date on my company's time.

Feb 07 11 - 4:35pm
Clay Calvert

That is dedicated reporting!!!

Feb 07 11 - 4:44pm
joey

girl, you is funny. good idea, good article. my only question is what happened to all that money?

Feb 07 11 - 6:23pm
NG

Ugh. I don't know whether this just solidified my negative opinions on using CL for dating, or depressed me about the state of the typical female mind in NYC. So incredibly self-absorbed! Really -- after having "thrown up a little in your mouth" and smoking before each date, you're worried whether *he's* going to be gross? It's good that you didn't get a chance to inflict yourself on more than one guy that was acceptable. Let's hope the law student reads this article, and runs before it's too late.

BTW, your response to the second retard, "How much is a lot," reminds me of that famous quote that goes, "Oh, we've already established you're a whore -- now we're just debating over the price...:

Oct 20 11 - 6:17am
Gump

Hallelujah.

Feb 07 11 - 6:28pm
..::bEEp::..

@thinkywritey: Wow, I had no idea that Pros' did that. Now I don't feel so guilty about selling them tiny chunks of soap. ;)

Feb 07 11 - 6:39pm
JFX

Highly entertaining.

Feb 07 11 - 7:33pm
ms

Ugh, Date B (the 'infant') sounds horrific. I wish you'd punched his little baby face.

Feb 07 11 - 7:37pm
Rachel

Probably got flagged for using the word "fucking".

Feb 07 11 - 8:54pm
LinaCanney

@NG, Wow. Thanks man. You know, I'm a person too. With feelings :(

Feb 07 11 - 8:55pm
BrosephofArimathea

To be fair, you do look rather morose in your pic

Feb 07 11 - 9:01pm
Greg

I commend you on both the originality of being yourself and honest on CL and the willingness to follow through. You sound like alot of fun and have an awesome sense of humor, I actually find it odd that you are single (Not trying to sound like your mom) in fact if I lived anywhere close to you I would be thrilled to go out with you ( and NO I don't live with my parents and collect comic books) Anyhow good luck on your ventures and I look forward to your next piece, err article. Be well

Feb 07 11 - 10:08pm
Dave Manno

Hey everyone, "Brotato" think he's normal!

Feb 09 11 - 7:18pm
Marc

No, he thinks he's "nomral."

Feb 07 11 - 10:14pm
DaveMannoBK718Murdah

Hey everyone, check out this Greg guy trying to hit on the author ^ what a fartbag

Oct 20 11 - 6:18am
Goober

How embarassing!

Feb 07 11 - 10:24pm
Manwich

So this article really did it for me. To the author - you're hilarious! I can't believe you even had the stones to go on one of these dates (and it sounds like you really met the cream of the crop of the Craigslist types!). Anyhoo, take comfort in knowing that your writing and perseverance are working wonders for the readers of this site, and I hope for you a great future as an authoress.
Sincerely,
-Manwich

Feb 08 11 - 12:34am
CL_Maven

I will always sing CL's praises I went on a blind CL blind date and it was awesome. Met up with a really hot guy, had drinks and ended up in bed. We went at it all night, had perfect chemistry and was really good. We still email and flirt, hoping to get together soon. Best date ever.

Feb 08 11 - 12:37am
Kristin

I loved this article. Bravo for great writing and doing a "dating" article that was actually intriguing. Peeeease keep this up, the world is seriously lacking in writers like you (and that's too bad).

Feb 08 11 - 12:57am
TLC

Hilarious, original article. Loved reading it!

Feb 08 11 - 1:01am
Alex

The article was interesting, especially framed in basic lab report format. It's a little unsettling to think that you were fantasizing sex/kissing with random guys almost immediately (state of the world, I suppose). It seems you place a lot of the expectation on the guy to make or break the date.

Also it was kind of funny that more drinks means you're having a good time. A lot of people drink when it's going bad, in order to take their mind off the situation.

Feb 08 11 - 2:45am
aalina387

i think its one of funny piece..very different and interesting as well as funny idea.

Feb 08 11 - 5:47am
DB

Funny stuff. It's the pool you fish from that's the factor here. At least with CL you know you are fishing totally at random, unlike more upmarket dating sites where you really have to sift through a hell of a lot more lying scum.

Feb 08 11 - 10:01am
dmsheldon87

I think you're my hero for the week.

Feb 08 11 - 10:09am
MM

First guy sounds cute, I'd go out with him.

Feb 08 11 - 11:21am
LM

Kudos to you! I've done my share on online dating and it certainly is NOT for those with weak stomachs and an inability to find humor in one's own misery. I actually met a guy (who I dated for a few months) while waiting for an internet blind date (who was shorter and more immature than previously indicated). When I ditched the internet guy, I asked for the other guy's number. All that internet dating made me really ballsy. I've since met my fiance (also an internet blind date) and we're getting married next year. Stay strong!

Feb 08 11 - 11:29am
Psych

I thought the whole premise was very promising, but, as an experiment, it loses validity when you fail to handle 10 simultaneous conversations. I think that this process filtered out possible good dates, or at least men who respect themselves enough not to continue a conversation where the woman keeps confusing them with someone else. I think the average process of online dating includes that dedication to learn about the other person previous to meeting. By cutting that short you're selecting your sample from a smaller population, with its own characteristics. You could have also presented your profile as a regular woman wanting to date, without mentioning anything about an experiment. You might have received messages from more serious people. All in all, a very interesting read. Very courageous. Keep it up.

Feb 08 11 - 2:17pm
twj

Funny & well written! Nice job

Feb 08 11 - 2:32pm
Jezebel

This article is seriously behind the times. CL in 2011 for anything not sex service related? Seriously? I used CL for dating in 2003/2004/2005 - back then, it was a great place to meet people that you wouldn't meet in your everyday life. I've tried in recent years and mostly been disappointed. Now a days, if you're doing online dating, you're going to have to pay - it's worth. I was really disappointed in this article. I would have expected something a little more exciting.

Feb 08 11 - 4:27pm
AZguy

I flag w4m ads right after I respond to them to stop the competition.

Feb 10 11 - 11:43am
JoshuaHanson

wow, this is clever

Feb 10 11 - 11:50am
dango

survival of the fittest

Oct 20 11 - 6:20am
Huck.

I bow to you.

Feb 08 11 - 5:53pm
B

You are an attractive, smart, available, and most importantly aggressive young woman and all you got was 3 dates... Now imagine a handsome, recently unemployed, young man trying the same thing. predicted results- some only halfway indecent propositions from women of the night.

Feb 08 11 - 9:00pm
liz

Nice piece! and that first guy's email was pretty funny

Feb 08 11 - 9:36pm
adam

You could have just erased the pencil in your day-planner.

Feb 08 11 - 11:00pm
justme

yeah u know i dated a sawyer but she broke my heart. i've been single for over 10 years. i live @ home due to personal health issues which i realise isn't flattering to the single ladies in the outside world. i'm emotionally insecure, overly sensitive, poetic yet hopeful. craigslist ads don't offer me substance or a renewed sense of confidence. anyhow, it's a wild world baby it's hard to get by on a smile girl.

Feb 09 11 - 1:30am
Brian

I've done my share of craigslist dating, and in fact have been featured in two similar writer's experiments (one will become a book soon, the other led to a 3-year relationship). It's always surprising to me that women are so freaked out by it when they have all the control. Women get 100 responses for even a two-sentence post, whereas men get 1-3 responses for a well thought-out, considerate post. True, 95 of your responses will be idiots, but that still leaves you with five of reasonable quality (the ratio is much better outside of NYC). You can choose the time, place, and (apparently) the length of the date. What's so difficult?

You ended up with 66% mismatches because you didn't take the time to 'email back and forth' and get to know your suitors. And at a very basic level, you were being deceptive, because you were 'doing it for science'... and a clever bit of writing... and not for anything more. So you got back what you put out: half-assed results for half-assed effort. It's not just about 'putting yourself out there'; it's about knowing what you want, pursuing it, and seeing how you feel about it. In your case, what you wanted was a column.

Feb 09 11 - 11:13am
davechen

I wouldn't date her.

Oct 20 11 - 6:22am
Brass

I'd fuck her, but I wouldn't vote for her.

Feb 09 11 - 12:02pm
thinkywritey

Really @Brian? On what do you base this assertion? I'm a single woman in Detroit and my CL attempts have been MISERABLE. I don't get 100 responses – first of all, the ad is never up long enough to get that many. I may get 10-20 in the five minutes the ad is up, and usually it's closer to 99.8% are unacceptable. And I don't mean "don't make $100,000/yr and look like [fill in movie star]." I mean men who clearly didn't read the post at ALL and/or are married and/or send me a picture of their penes. Yes, often all three at once.

I'm with @Jezebel up there. Using CL to DATE is a fool's errand. Now, if you're a BBW who wants your slit and hole licked, I know just the site.

Feb 10 11 - 1:45am
Rose

The best "I did it for Science" yet!

Feb 10 11 - 11:50am
thorn

agreed. more!

Feb 10 11 - 12:02pm
E

you sound like kind of a nightmare.

Feb 10 11 - 1:40pm
patty

funny stuff, I have ONLY met ASSHOLES on CL..so I only read them for giggles now and then.
I once posted a funny ad that garnered over 300 responses in a space of 8 hours..out of all of them,after screening for wack jobs..ONE turned out to be sane.. HAHAHA

Feb 10 11 - 8:14pm
atlasfugged

How much is a lot? 200.
Fucking classic.

Feb 11 11 - 12:36pm
JerseyGirl

I have done my share of CL dating, although in Joisey and I just LOVED this article! So, so true. Maybe emailing back n forth a bit might have weeded out some of the canceling/noshow guys, or maybe it wouldn't have (based upon my experiences). I think you portrayal is pretty accuate and gives other woen a peak inside the CL world to see if they really want to enter it.

Feb 11 11 - 2:53pm
MW

As a sane guy, I would never look for a date on CL. I only use free sites with some kind of matching tools, like OKC. So articles that tell me that the people that use such sites -- and those they find -- are not exactly prizes are a little redundant.

Feb 11 11 - 5:36pm
Ramona

I had lots of fun with CL dating/hookups in NYC. I also had to bounce back from the second guy I met who took one look at me IRL (after we'd exchanged nude and face photos) and wouldn't even have a drink with me, and I came into the city from Ridgewood! Maybe he didn't know what 5' tall meant? Others ended up being pals. On the whole I think dating in NYC SUCKED, most happy couples I knew were dating their friend's roommates. Now I'm living with a guy I met on a list-serv, how 1996 is that?

Feb 14 11 - 6:32pm
susan

forget about the topic even...the writing was fantastic....
write about something more important next time....
we want to hear more from you...you're obviously a bright thinking young woman....
but don't put yourself within hand reach of jerks

Feb 14 11 - 6:34pm
george

i want to date you just cause you're funny and smart

Oct 24 11 - 8:57pm
gorge

i don't want to date you just cause you're a smoker and have a little bit of puke in your mouth

Feb 14 11 - 10:37pm
Sister

I agree - this experiment is totally beneath you. You are obviously too intelligent - surprised you would even try this - it's crazy and asking for trouble. Your writing is exceptional - you should find another platform that is worthy of your talent!

Mar 25 11 - 8:44pm
yerkiddin

Addendum to lament recorded by a prior commentator: The odds appear to be even worse if you are looking for a reasonably attractive and normal woman who DOESN'T SMOKE! Can't stand being within 10 ft of someone like this, and sure wouldn't want to date one: Bad breath, stained teeth, and almost certainly not remotely athletic. Less likely to take care of herself in other ways as well.

Oct 20 11 - 6:24am
Gah!

Smoker. Gah! To add insult to injury, there's that little pocket of puke in the mouth.

Apr 02 11 - 7:52am
CL

What a great read! Thank you for your expiriment, oh how I love the
view of THIS sort of stuff through others eyes. Thanks for being as
detailed at you were. I could never do the dating thing via internet so
it was a little peak into that world.

Apr 08 11 - 9:37pm
ouuu

Aww I enjoyed reading this. It was very funny and charming...what a cool experiment. I don't though, if I'd be able to meet total strangers and go on dates with them. Unfortunately, the news and the current state of the world has made me too paranoid in doing that.

Jun 16 11 - 8:23pm
Marc

Oh, the mysterious flagging that craigslist does also called ghosting. Craigslist is known to flag ads even if they are legit and ghost them. They even keep tabs on email addresses and practically ban people from posting ads even though they claim they don't ban people. Enough about craigslist and their crappy site, your article is interesting. Men usually get a bunch of ads for dating sites and adult verification sites instead of legitimate replies to their ads.

Aug 24 11 - 8:27pm
rtyecript

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

Aug 24 11 - 8:27pm
rtyecript

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

Nov 30 11 - 9:08pm
Dirk

Frankly, you sound like a bit of a bitch. Sorry 'bout that.

Jan 01 12 - 9:01pm
Dirk Smells

Frankly, Dirk smells. And I'm not too awfully sorry 'bout that. :}

Seriously, I was surprised when my W4M ads got flagged and removed, as they were about as innocent as they come, but I do enjoy imagining a bunch of bitter 50-year-olds gang-flagging as they commune over the X-Box about what "bitches" we all are! Sweet!

Mar 17 12 - 1:28pm
Merry1205

Hi, I am looking for a decent looking guy,who is not weird, but decent in character as well.First, dating in a public place is perfered, from there it is see as we go. I am 5ft. plump, but I have started working out to improve my health. My hair is long and black. My eyes are choclate brown. I am white.I prefer to dating a white guy, native american, asian, or mexican. I am a LADY!

Apr 14 12 - 3:37am
tbone

nice article... i saw your post... and didn't reply... due to the revealing of the experiment... so your sampling population was skewed...