We've all heard horror stories about online dating,
especially Craigslist. I'm continuously asked my thoughts about the site and I remain pro-Craigslist. I think it's like living in an un-gated community. People paying to live inside the community feel they're safe, which I believe is how people on paid dating websites feel. People using free dating websites or online community forums, like Craigslist, may think at times they are less safe. As someone's who has dated on both, I think safety-wise they're the same; and often times I've found it's the SAME people. Once you take the step to online date, you tend to maximize your effort and date in multiple locations.
Craigslist caters to the "I want it now" crowd,
whether it's an apartment, a part-time (albeit low-paying gig)
or a non-committal drink with a stranger, say 5-minutes from
now. It's immediate. There's no waiting for him to wink or
reply to an email. There's much less danger of becoming a pen pal.
So, here are some offbeat tips for using Craigslist:
Watch where you post and/or reply to ads. If you go to the
personals section, stick with the right category for you. It's
best to post an ad because emails come to you - you aren't
reaching out to the vast unknown.
Don't give out any personal information - including your real
email address, phone number or details that may identify you
or your precise location.
About that email address... go to yahoo or Google and
create a free email account. For heaven's sake don't put
your full name in the name field, just your initials or those
of you pet iguana will do (hint).
Share your password to this special craigslist email account
with one or two trusted friends so that someone can log in and
see where you were supposed to meet, with whom, when and what
you were expecting to do (Drinks? Salsa lesson?).
Create your own date-a-base. Don't delete any emails - ever.
Sometimes, the high-powered doctor surprisingly took a pay cut
and got crafty turning himself into a construction site
manager or line cook. Shocking (rolling eyes) but you've got
it under control! Type the email address into the search box
and see if you pull up an email from another time. He's there
holding up his latest culinary masterpiece? OK, file this
Jekyll and Hyde in an email folder and call it "No."
Post a "control" post. When you post your ad, place one where
you're you - SWF, 33, funny, vivacious, attractive, writer
seeks to meet someone mature, well-traveled and excellent
conversationalist for a quick drink in West Village. Then post
another: 33-year-old, novelist-extraordinaire looking for dinner date in Tribeca with edgy Wall-Streeter. Give each post a different headline. See whatcha get. Don't fall off your chair when the same guys respond to both. Life - after all - is a numbers game. Just check that overall both posts identify the person generally the same way.
Upload Photos. Run photos of prospective in-person date through Google Image Search.
Clearly, always meet in a public place.
Watch the time. It's like a dyslexic tale of Cinderella but
come midnight the kooks hit the net. Post early -
keep the posting time before 10 pm or agree to meet
Don't profess your love to cyberspace. No one cares (no
offense) at this point that you're a great a cook. Keep it
simple. Drinks, 8 pm, SoHo? A few vital stats. Request
(really demand) a photo. Pick and go.
If a date offers money, that's NOT a date. Put that email
immediately into your "no way in hell" folder and move on.
Watch the lingo. Even in the romantic nooks of CL you'll get
adventurous invitations to all sorts of activities from a trip
overseas (Ha! No.) to a movie (free popcorn!) to skiing
(nooo). Skiing tends to mean cocaine. 420 is pot. The
abbreviations and clever acronyms continue. This said,
sometimes an invitation to ice skate means you put rather
prickly rented skates on your feet and slide around Wollman
Rink (let's be fair ladies).
And before you hit the road...remember, to be safe not sorry.
If it doesn't feel right, don't go. If you're already
there, excuse yourself. It won't be the first time
(or the last) some guy gets stuck with the check.