Photo by jonrawlinson

The place you buy your used couches is where I find my boyfriends.

I’M KIND OF A DATING GURU. Not because I’ve been successful in dating (I haven’t) or because I have some sort of spiritual insight into the practice of dating (I don’t), but because I’ve tried everything from bars to eHarmony to blind dates and back again. Also, Craigslist.

That’s right, friends: the place you buy your used couches is where I find my boyfriends.

And as I’ve read hundreds of ads (and posted a good couple dozen myself), I like to think I have a little insight into what will — and what most certainly will NOT — get you a date.

Go on and on about how cute you are.

I don’t care if your mom told you so or if you get hit on at the coffee shop or if your self-esteem is so high that a goose ran into its windshield: telling strangers how cute you are doesn’t work. Saying it three times in one ad doesn’t work, either. And it really doesn’t work if you post a picture and prove yourself wrong.

Try posting a few pictures and let the audience play hot or not in their own heads.

Post a picture of a sunset or a fuzzy bunny instead of your face.

You do not look like a sunset or a fuzzy bunny. And no one is buying that you do.

Post a list of all the things you own, especially the manly ones.

Oooh, you own a car and a house and a toaster and a lawn mower? Well, obviously we all want to date you now.

Ignore all the little red and green squiggles under your words.

Spelling and grammar check is for pussies. If the person you’re writing to can’t understand you, that’s her problem, isn’t it?

Say that you’re well traveled, even if you aren’t.

We all love getting emails about how “Wow, you travel? Me too! I have totally been to every township in Pennsylvania!” Next, please.

Use the words “soul mates,” “babies,” or “my mom.”

No one wants to discuss babies or your mother on a first date. And they really don’t want to discuss them in a first email. Well, except you, apparently.

CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING.

IT IS VERY SEXY TO READ ADS ALL IN CAPS. I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT SHOUTING MOSTLY JUST MAKES US WANT TO TAKE OUR PANTS OFF. THIS IS A GREAT STRATEGY.

Post a low-quality picture of you standing in front of the bathroom mirror throwing out a peace sign.

Preferably, your pants should be about to fall off. Also, you should be scowling.

Use “u” instead of “you” and “r” instead of “are.”

This makes you sound like a text-messaging 14-year-old girl. Wait…are you a 14-year-old girl? If you are, please stop dating on Craigslist and go make a sparkly unicorn book cover or something.

Post a picture of your penis.

This is especially lovely for those of us browsing at work (We’re not supposed to do that? Scratch that. I’ve never browsed at work, then). It’s also wonderful if your penis is a weird color or shape. Do you not know that it’s not supposed to look like a purple question mark?

So, there you have it: If you would like to post an ad on Craigslist and get approximately zero responses, follow the instructions above.

But, in all seriousness, if you do want to date on Craigslist (and I do, actually, recommend it as it is quick, easy, and puts you in front of a huge, new group of prospective boyfriends / girlfriends), just be yourself, use your spell checker, turn off the caps lock, keep it simple, and post a pretty picture of your smiling face. Do that, and you might be surprised at your success.

If you don’t listen to my advice, be wary. You might just end up in a book.

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