I recently became single again, after a 6 year relationship with a very nice, but not-so-good-for-me guy. I’d been ready to breakup for awhile before I actually did, and the breakup itself was amicable and pretty freaking healthy. So, I was ready to start dating again sooner than most people would be after a long term relationship. I wasn’t looking for anything serious, but I did want to explore some facets of myself that I found out about during my relationship that I wasn’t so sure I liked. How I related to men, how I expected men to relate to me, sex, love… all that fun stuff. I had just recently turned thirty, and this had been my first serious relationship. I wanted to have some fun, and learn a bit about myself and others in the process.

 

So, I went out with the stated intention of finding a guy. And boy howdy, did I ever. There are lots of guys out there that can scent “available” pheromones a mile away, and gravitate towards them like sharks scenting blood (an overused metaphor, I know, but so appropriate). I went to bars at first, and shockingly enough, I attracted alcoholic assholes. So, then I went to bookstores and libraries. Where I attracted needy, emotionally unstable creepy dudes. Grocery stores produced horny married men, fetish events produced (again, shockingly) men who were obsessed with a single part of my anatomy, book readings produced pretentious pricks who hadn’t come out of the closet to themselves yet, and parks produced pot smoking hippies who lived in their vans.

 venezuela map painted like Venezuelan flag

So, I turned to the internet. Craigslist, to be precise. It wasn’t out of desperation so much as the knowledge that if this didn’t work I was either moving to Venezuela (where everybody knows the men are men) or switching teams.

 

I determined to go through others ads, not posting any of my own. Strangely enough, it worked very, very well for what I was looking for. I went out on a little over a dozen dates in the first month, and I had no bad experiences. There were one or two that required a little work on my part for me to have fun, and one that was annoying, but none that were at all traumatic. Which is saying ALOT in this world. All of my friends were amazed at my incredible luck in finding the few non-insane and creepy fish in the sea that is Craigslist. It wasn’t luck, my friends. It was work. I went through countless ads, looking for the signs of non-crazy. It took time, perception, and a little bit of brilliance. And now, I share my brilliance with you.

 

First of all, I looked for ads that had no picture. This was because I found that when guys post a picture of themselves, it’s generally going to be either truly unflattering, laughably narcissistic, or depressingly pathetic and therefore a total turnoff. I’m not sure why men seem to be incapable of figuring out which pictures don’t make them seem creepy or gay, but there it is.

 

When I found one, I clicked on it to see if it had more than a small paragraph of text. If it didn’t, I backed out, if it did, I read on.

 Bad Grammar on a sign

I would then quickly scan the ad, looking for egregious grammatical and spelling errors. If there was more than one, I backed out. No major mistakes and I’d start looking at the actual content.

 

Content was important. A lot of the ads that passed initial muster and started off really great quickly devolved into what the guy actually thought. Generally, they’d start getting bad right about the point where he mentioned an ex, and I’d click the back button before I got too far into the explanation of why women are evil creatures who have nothing better to do than suck a man’s soul and wallet dry but he’s sure he’ll find the single woman on the planet who’s not like that soon and could you be her?

 

More danger signs to look for were mention of religious practices in the first paragraph, mention of children in the first paragraph, excessive listing of likes and dislikes, poetry, monetary status, type of car(s) or other toys, stated preference for body type of woman, hair color preference, and preferred sexual position anywhere in the ad, use of the term SWM, and use of pop culture references more than once.

 

Now, I have nothing against religion, children, poetry, wealth, or the knowledge that certain men are just attracted to certain things in women. But the placement of these preferences in an ad shows the importance they hold to this person. I wasn’t interested in dating a religious person or someone who wanted kids. I also wasn’t interested in dating a shallow or judgmental human being who was in the least bit race conscious. And poetry mostly annoys me when quoted at inappropriate moments. So those were danger signs for me. And most geeky women I know. They make excellent filters.

 

Positive items I’d look for were things like a knowledge of self shown by detailed description, honesty, hopefulness, a general happy feel to the words, enthusiasm, talk of friendships outside of dating, a concise description of hobbies, and a general description of what they were looking to get out of interacting with you. Good vocabulary was a plus, but not absolutely necessary. Spelling and grammar is one thing, but constant use of big words is not always a good thing.

 

Using these few filters, I met a group of men who were uniformly handsome, nice, gentlemanly, and all around good catches. Seriously. Not one of the guys I went on a date with was a troll, despite the fact that none of them put up pictures. There were only a few that I was actually attracted to, and only one that I was attracted enough to take home, but the initial filtering process ensured that I would at least have a good conversation with a nice guy.

 

Next week, adventures in POSTING an ad. Oh yes. Insanity to ensue.