Craigslist Etiquette
May 6, 2009 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Is it rude to not respond to someone on Craigslist?

So, I posted on the missed connections on the CL of my city a week or so ago, and I got a response from someone who turned out to be the guy I saw. (I'm female.) He told me to send him a picture of myself, and that maybe we could get a drink sometime. I sent him a picture. This was Friday, and I have yet to see a reply.

I'm still kind of holding out hope (tell me if you think that's a bad idea), and I know that it sounds like I really want this, and I do (for a variety of reasons, but I'm seeing a therapist). But that's not really the issue here. This is: whenever I tell people about it, they tell me it's rude and that the least he could have done was responded back. I mean, I agree, and everything, but honestly: do they have a point? Are they right? I've been on the receiving end before, but it was on casual encounters, where such pickiness is kind of expected. I don't know why, but it seems more assholish to do it on MC.

What do you, the hive mind, think about this situation? And the answer is supposed to be obvious to me: I have Asperger's, so I'm extremely bad at navigating social situations and reading people. Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
From other online-dating questions I've read here on AskMe, I've deduced that the nice way of expressing non-interest, particularly after photo sharing, is simply halting communication.

That's not to say that this is the situation here -- everyone is different -- but it seems to be somewhat of a standard in the online dating world.
posted by nitsuj at 7:06 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

What do you, the hive mind, think about this situation?

You're thinking too much about it and should move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 PM on May 6, 2009 [4 favorites]

People are busy. People are also intrigued by something aimed at them. People are sometimes put off by a picture, or just plain worry about what a complete stranger could be like and be put off regardless of the picture. Anywhere in between is your answer, but just as much, any one of a myriad conclusions reached by either you or the other party could be hideously misguided, mistaken or otherwise affected by other events.

In short? Brandon totally has it. If the email turns up, then think about whether you want to go through with it then. If it doesn't, marvel in the chances of actually seeing someone and them also seeing the resulting ad on craigslist. Awesome odds.

Just stop thinking so much about it.
posted by Brockles at 7:12 PM on May 6, 2009

Nah, the answer is never obvious, but honestly, it's human nature to overanalyze situations like this one. I don't know that I'd call his non-response "rude" but I would call him a bit of a chicken. He clearly isn't brave enough to just let you know that he's not interested (I might even peg him as "chickenshit"); perhaps a bit inconsiderate, but generally more a character flaw on his end.

If he were really into the idea, he'd have already sent you an email. It's been almost a week. But DO NOT think that this is necessarily about you. He might be _________ (insert scenario here: chicken, lame, just broken up with someone, hit by a car, without a job and stressed out, actually an alien with five legs). Or maybe it is; maybe he holds a torch for redheads and you're brunette. Whatever it is, I say
a) he's a wimp for not writing back, but not necessarily super rude (or perhaps he is, but it's kinda irrelevant at this point)
b) forget about it and look elsewhere.

Best of luck!
posted by cachondeo45 at 7:12 PM on May 6, 2009

He's not going to reply.

He recognized himself from your post, and asked for a picture to see if he recognized you. Lots of people who commute or go to the same Starbucks every morning have people they chat with in those situations, are kindof-sortof acquaintances, but have never exchanged names. When you sent the picture, he saw that he didn't know you. Then, it became -- OMG I'm being picked up via Craigslist missed connections! -- and maybe he found that a little creepy. So he didn't respond, and that's that.

I don't think that's rude. I don't think it's rude on Casual Encounters either. Sometimes you want to stay a stranger, and strangers aren't obligated to communicate with each other.
posted by Methylviolet at 7:15 PM on May 6, 2009

For all you know, he could be married. He could be living with his baby-momma. He could be... Whatever. There are a jillion reasons why he might not respond, so yes, you're overthinking it.
posted by MsMolly at 7:28 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow, small Internet, unless I encountered another stranger talking about this same situation on another site today.

Yeah, he's not going to write back. Is that rude? Not as rude, in his mind, as saying "Gee, you're nice, but I only dig {amputees/women forty years older than me/mimes/redheads/Malaysian women/something else you're not}" would be. You probably think that's incorrect, so you dodged a bullet there by not hooking up with someone whose ideas of etiquette are radically different than yours.

You were already not dating him, so you've lost nothing except the time it took to write you and the time it's taken you to brood about it. Cut your losses.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:32 PM on May 6, 2009

How are you sure that the guy who responded is actually the guy you wrote the post about? I've written an MC before and got responses from people who weren't the person I wrote about...but that fact didn't come out until a few emails back and forth.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:32 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

As others have noted up-thread, the general concensus when it comes to online dating is that breaking communication = non-interest. But that dosen't mean it's not rude. I think it's rude, for sure. I had it happen to me once when I was trying online dating and it sucked, especially when it seemed before hand she seemed pretty interested.

I say, live by the rule of treating others how you'd like to be treated. And while most think it would be ego-saving to not have to read the line "Sorry, I've decided not to persue this relationship" the fact is it's better than wondering day after day, night after night if this person you think could be a special someone feels the same way. It's not till you experience it yourself until you realise how true that is.

It's been almost a week since he last contacted you, so I'm sorry to say that it appears as though this rude prick has decided you're not the one for him. Sorry anon. But keep two things in mind. 1) Better you know now, than having wasted some time with him and 2) If he does contact you, you can tell him "Sorry, I've decided that because of your delay in responding to me, not to persue this relationship. Have a nice life."
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:04 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Did he know you're female from the info you shared? Could be he wouldn't respond to any female after a pic. Basically, its him, not you. Move forward.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:37 PM on May 6, 2009

People can say it's "rude" or not depending on their opinion. There's no single correct answer. But this is the way it goes -- people just drop off contact -- so there's not much point in worrying about it.

It's not popular to admit this, but ... there'd be more hurt feelings overall if people always explicitly communicated their lack of interest at this super-early (pre-meeting) stage. You're actually lucky if you can let things like this quietly fade away. With an explicit statement, you're guaranteed to feel rejected; when there's a passive drop-off of contact, the whole thing's likely to be forgotten, without that sting of rejection. This is a feature, not a bug, of online dating.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:55 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

From what I hear, the not telling the girl you're dumping her thing is dirt common on Craigslist. Pretty much everyone does it. Even if you ask them to just tell you to dump them (so my friend says), you will get the silent dump.

Yes, it's rude, but they really don't give a shit at that point, I think.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:56 PM on May 6, 2009

In your situation, I'd asume he has a girlfriend, wanted to see your pic out of curiosity (a girl liked me? did i see her?) and then halted communication due to girlfriend-having. It's the most parsimoniously "it's not you it's him" answer, which to me is the best type od default assumption to make in most casual romance/dating situations.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:01 PM on May 6, 2009

I thought not having to respond was at least half the point of trying to hook up on the Internet. Yes, it would be very nice to have someone who wasn't into you let you down nicely, but definitively so you could know fore sure. But it ain't going to happen. No one likes saying "thanks honey, but no thanks." and given a chance most people will just delete your contact and move on.

Onward and upward!
posted by Ookseer at 9:13 PM on May 6, 2009

I've done this, and I've had it happen to me. When it happens to me, I figure "eh, guess they didn't think I was cute enough. Oh well."

When I've done it, I feel mildly bad, but not for any longer than I feel icky when it happens to me.

It happens all the time in real life too; you make eyes at someone, and they just don't respond. Or they smile a little but then the next time don't respond. Or you chat a guy up and they blow you off. It's not exactly rude; they're just not interested, for reasons that (most likely) have very little to do with you.

The only reason it's ruder on CL or other online dating venues is that the person has no clue until it's been a (week/several days/whatever) before you respond. But if you're doing it right, you're not particularly attached before you've actually spent a good deal of time with the person, so the correct response is to move on, and not get upset with them or yourself.
posted by nat at 9:17 PM on May 6, 2009

There a loads of reasons why he might not have responded, most of them noted up-thread but emails do go missing from time to time, particularly in this age of aggressive spam filters, while unlikely, it is possible he never got your email.
If you're really interested in this guy, I would send one follow up email, very casual, low pressure - ie. I haven't heard back from you since I sent the pic, just wanted to check you got it, drop me a line if you want to get a drink some time. Then drop it, if he doesn't reply then for whatever reason he's probably not interested (or he died/had a serious accident/insert other highly unlikely but perfectly feasible reason for not replying to an email)
posted by missmagenta at 2:24 AM on May 7, 2009

Oh and yes it is rude to not respond but is there really a polite way to reject someone based purely on physical appearance (and photogenicity)
posted by missmagenta at 2:31 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I dated a girl from CL for three months. She was supposed to be heading to Texas at around month four, but with about a month to go, simply stopped speaking to me. Understand that things were going rather swimmingly, to me. We hadn't had any fights, we spent time together and really enjoyed it.

After about a week of me wondering what the hell happened, I dropped into about a week of disbelief--I didn't think someone could be that rude, esp. since I'm a pretty damn nice guy and had treated her really well.

Ten months later, without having heard a single WORD from her, she IMs me: "Hey, you probably hate me, but I just wanted to say I'm sorry for bailing on you. You were the worst possible guy to do that to and I just got scared and freaked out and picked a bad way of dealing with it."

Me being a guy, we hooked up for another month, this time with her *actually* preparing to leave at the end of the month (her previous departure had been pushed off til then). She then promptly stopped speaking to me again with about three days to go before she moved.

Ironically, she was one of the most attractive girls I've been with, and actually very smart, funny, and otherwise a great time to be around. Minus the fact that she apparently failed at basic conversation and common courtesy.

This is all by way of saying that it could've been worse, and he could've been far ruder. This is how.
posted by disillusioned at 2:49 AM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

I know that a lot of times when I've tried to do online dating, people won't respond to me or will halt communication after a few times. I just chalk it up to incompatibility and move on. He's likely too scared to come out and say what's actually going on in his head.
posted by reenum at 7:57 AM on May 7, 2009

As a successful veteran of online dating (craigslist and, the non-response is(or was when I was participating) everywhere. I understand why....nobody likes to give bad news or willingly give offense. Particularly where photos are involved. However, I also contend that it is extremely rude.

It always annoyed me and struck me as rude, so I decided never to give the non-response. Hopefully, you will choose the same. Good luck with your online dating! It can work, I promise. :)
posted by specialnobodie at 11:51 AM on May 7, 2009

It's not rude; it's the least-harm answer to a socially awkward situation. Consider the alternatives.
posted by LordSludge at 12:39 PM on May 7, 2009

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