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find a couch on craigslist, not a boyfriend
a horror story about internet dating
by maigen thomas (@Maigen)

I hadn't intended to return home so soon. When I unpacked my backpack a couple of weeks ago, I found all of the cold-weather clothes that I had packed as well as summer clothes. My plans for travel were much longer than my bank account would allow though, so I'm home to work for a while and re-attack my country-hopping itinerary.

Best-laid plans and all, right?

I knew I'd be here for a while, and since I don't know many people in the area, I thought I'd give internet dating a try.

I joined a dating website. I have no problem sharing this because, well, I met my ex-husband online and that worked out well for a while, so I thought I'd try it again. I checked out craigslist, to the horrified exclamation of a girlfriend who told me: "Look for a COUCH on Craigslist, not a boyfriend!" After the murders involving the website this past summer, I thought she had a good point. And I didn't need a couch.

So off I went to a proper internet dating website.

The following is an email conversation I had with someone on the site. He saw the really long, detailed and descriptive profile (including clear, recent pictures) I had put up and thought he'd get in touch, which I respect. It's unfortunate that he didn't appeal to me, but all I can do is form an opinion based on the gritty picture he added to his profile, the two lines of information he provided and the way he wrote it.

From: claudio

soooo ... i know my profile says intimate encounter but thats because i work 55-65 hours a week and most women don't want to date a guy thats always working ... i really would not mind finding a true relationship ... you care to chat ? on yahoo im ?

I didn't email him back. Between the intimate encounters and the being ten years older than my age range and the fact that he wasn't physically my type, I just let it go.

An hour and a half later, I get this email:

From: claudio

so.... i guess read deleted means you're not interested .... thanks for responing with a little note though ... wait ... you didn't

Whoa. What? It's my prerogative to not be interested, right? Also, I realize not replying is rather rude, and I hate doing it, but I asked the interwebs, and the interwebs said the best way to indicate disinterest is to not reply. But some random guy with no idea what an ellipse is for telling me off just because I didn't reply? Wrong.

From: me

Holy mcstalker, dude. This is the kind of thing that makes people uncomfortable, and frankly that's totally out of line. If I'm not interested, I'm not interested. You have a two-line profile and it just didn't strike my fancy. Do you think writing me a guilt trip is going to make me want to go out with you?

Best of luck in the future, but maybe relax a little bit and let things roll off your back.

I admit that calling him a stalker off the bat was rude. But, damn, so is writing that second email!

Unbeknownst to him, I've just returned from a country where you are told as a single woman NOT to reply to strange men saying hello, as they might see it as an invitation. Granted, that perspective is foreign, and women here DO complain that men don't have the guts to approach them. In a bar, I would smile politely, greet them, but return to my conversation or whatever. Online, though, if I don't have anything to say, should I fake it? I don't think so.

From: claudio

it's called common courtesy little miss i'm better than everyone else ... if someone who you are not even remotely attracted to takes the time to say hi ... a good person would say hi back .... WOW ... i'm out of line .... better check the mirror ... try finding happiness just on your looks then cause your personality will get you no where

Now, in his third email, I have apparently become stuck up, rude, vain and I have a bad personality. When did I become such a terrible person? Well, I'm not, and I'm pissed that he has ventured so far out of line based on nothing more than his own ego getting stepped on. So, I figure I can give him a little explanation of why I didn't respond, and still tell him to shove it.

From: me

Wow, you've got some serious balls making assumptions about someone who hasn't even had a conversation with you. Assuming I think I'm better than everyone else? Maybe I'm shy. A good person would say hi back? That's your opinion of what constitutes a 'good person'. Assuming I'm trying to find happiness on my looks? I love THAT! You're feeling rejected because I didn't respond, and I understand that, but assuming these vast generalizations about my character is well out of line.

Frankly, I JUST JOINED TODAY. The first THREE emails I got within MOMENTS of joining were 'HEY, nice tits' and 'I want to hook up'.

Please excuse me for taking your statement of 'ignore what I said on my profile about 'intimate encounters'...' and immediately rejecting it, but I'm not looking for a guy who says one thing and does another.

I don't think this website is what I'm looking for, because I'm NOT interested in 'intimate encounters'. Can you imagine how I feel when I get those replies in a matter of minutes?

Again, sucks that I didn't reply to you, but you should probably, in future, take a moment to not take things personally and realize that everyone has a different perspective.

I felt like I explained everything. Properly. And with feeling. But, alas, I still can't win the internet argument against an opponent that won't fight.

From: claudio

wow.. you know what ... good luck

Then I realized, I'm trying to argue on the internet. What am I, an idiot?

So I logged off.

And that's the story of why I'm canceling my account on that website. This is ridiculous.


Maigen is simple. is smart. is wholesome. is skeevy. is spicy. is delicate. is better. is purer. is 100% more awesome than yesterday. She';s traveling the world and writing about her experiences with life, love, yoga, food, travel and people. Mostly people. Because they';re funny. hear more of her random thoughts @maigen on twitter.

more about maigen thomas


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alex b
11.23.09 @ 1:01p

I tried not to snicker/get teary while reading this, but I've managed to do both anyway. You crack me up.

I can't do Internet dating sites because I've generally had bad luck too- from the guy with a cute picture who happens to have Austin Powers teeth, to "yo, you wanna hook up?" No. And, I'm staying off match.com. After my ex found me on it and needled me about the profile I wrote after we broke up, I never got over it.

Anytime you need to hunt down a couch, I'm there.


brian anderson
11.23.09 @ 1:36p

Oh, I snickered. It was at "holy mcstalker, dude."

One of the reasons I've never tried the Internet dating thing is because I assume most of the interesting women are scared off by the guys like this. You know, like in real life, too.

adam kraemer
11.23.09 @ 4:50p

Actually, I think they should have dating sites for couches, too. I mean, that's a serious investment, you know?

I've done Internet dating on occasion, with mixed results. But the same can be said for any way to meet people. I don't think one is necesarily better or worse than another; they just offer different things.

maigen thomas
11.23.09 @ 5:04p

Man, it's difficult to be a nerdy girl who likes the online things like gaming and reddit while being an outgoing, outdoorsy person. then I want to throw a boyfriend in there? I must be out of my mind.

tim lockwood
11.23.09 @ 5:46p

You know, my wife and I found each other online, but not at a dating site. It was on AOL, back in the late '90s. We both liked to post to the same political humor message board there (remember the old days, when politics could be funny?). I won't tell the whole tale in case I already have elsewhere here, but eventually we met in real life, then married a year after that.

The difference was, it wasn't a dating site. We were both there only because it happened to be the venue of something we both enjoyed, no different than if we were both avid backpackers and we met in a national park somewhere.

Dating and relationships aren't supposed to be like Amazon.com, where you've got the widget I want, I've got the money you want, here's my credit card number, now you send me my widget. Dating takes time, conversation, personal involvement, and most of all, the sense that you don't need a relationship but you'd like to have one if it came your way.

Once you've plunked down your $40 a month and posted a carefully crafted profile, you've pretty much told the world, yeah, I'm desperate.

maigen thomas
11.23.09 @ 6:09p

Easy, there, calling someone desperate for being on a dating website. I'm not desperate for anything. That's not the point at all, and I think you've got the wrong impression. I met my exhusband in exactly the same manner, on a messageboard in '99, and didn't meet in person until many years later. etc. etc.

But the dating sites - the one I tried was free, and that might be EXACTLY why I was getting the 'adult' style messages. There might be a good idea behind having a required payment - weed out the people that would otherwise be on craigslist.

My carefully crafted profile is intended to weed out people who don't have the intelligence to actually get to know someone. I would rather intimidate people than be just available to chat to anyone. I'm interested in meeting people, but having a grand time being awesome and single, so...no, I don't feel like I need a relationship. But when you're limited in who you meet, you're willing to take a chance to meet people you wouldn't otherwise cross paths with.

I'm picky, and apparently it didn't work on that site.

alex b
11.23.09 @ 7:58p

Good thing I never paid $40 to look desperate. I'm too cheap.

(Yes, I canceled my match.com account before they could charge me. I chickened out at the trial run.)

And Tim, I think you successfully articulated why I don't like Internet dating- it isn't supposed to be so customized right off the bat, and it just doesn't feel as authentic as, say, developing a crush on someone you like in class or on your local sports team.

maigen thomas
11.23.09 @ 8:08p

Yeah, I tried the week free trial, too at Match.com and I was only meh overall.

I do agree with the over-customization and said as much in my profile. It asks you what kind of industry you want your person to be in, and I was not impressed.

I like developing crushes, and I'm happy being single for now. Doesn't mean I will turn down blind dates, but that's because I usually end up with fun stories.

Actually, I miss the old love@aol.com (which has become match.com). Many years ago I met people on random dates. I'm still friends with most of them, but I think that's because it was in 2000, before 'everyone' was online.

tim lockwood
11.24.09 @ 12:59p

Sorry, Maigen, I wasn't trying to imply that I think you are desperate. But I do believe that is a stereotype of people who use dating sites. That, I think, is partly why you had a rather rude encounter with Claudio - because some men think they have a better chance with the desperate ones, and Claudio was put off by the fact that you didn't fit the stereotype. That, and the fact that manners on the Internet pretty much suck in general.

lucy lediaev
11.24.09 @ 1:05p

Enjoyed this piece, Maigen. I've tried Internet "dating" and tried to be courteous every time by dropping a "thank you but not interested" note. As often as not, the person in question came back with an insult or an argument. Though it might appear rude on the surface, I think your strategy of not replying is much better, though probably would not have gotten into a dialogue with said person. I'm guessing he likely enjoyed the exchange.

brian anderson
11.24.09 @ 1:07p

Well, the main thing is that it's another place to meet people, right? But on the Internet, you don't have to look someone in the face, and there are few consequences, so the normal social filter goes awry.

Especially on such a service, where meeting possible mates is the point. In other locations, you're presumably drawn there (and together) for other reasons -- writing, hobby discussion, activism, volunteering. But the dating sites exist for dating only, so they function as the equivalent of meat markets...which have their place, but you have to be there willingly.

maigen thomas
11.24.09 @ 5:08p

Tim, it IS stereotypical of these dating sites, and I need (NEED) to remember that. I went in this time thinking 'oh, it can't be that bad!' and I was wrong. Which sucks for those few people out there who I'd probably totally connect with, but we just won't cross paths.

I actually like the people I end up gaming with online, because they're already vetted - they like gaming like I do! But most of the time, that's all they do, whereas I like to get out and socialize a lot as well.

I will not be destined to be alone, I know this, but I do wonder what kind of person is going to want to put up with me being so naturally random.

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