m4ridiculously nervous, socially awkward f
August 28, 2010 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Should I respond to a Craigslist missed connections ad that is about me? If so, how?

Last night, I was reading the Missed Connections section of Craigslist and lo and behold, I discovered an ad to me! I rarely ever go on Craigslist. I'm probably averaging 3-4 times per year and that's mostly in the classified section.

I had a mini-heart attack and then began my plight of over analyzing the shit out of the situation.

The ad was very respectable. Proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Does not seem remotely sleazy.

I am 99.9% certain the ad was about me. The place he specified where he saw me is (unfortunately) almost always empty; it was the same day and time I dropped in; I fit all identifying physical characteristics. So, the ad is about me..

I start emails and then delete them because I feel so awkward, like I'm trying to prove to him that I'm me. I know I'm me and I also know the ad is about me, but like I'm hitting a major writer's block. What is the Craigslist missed connections etiquette? Do I just write, "Hey, you found me." Or do I need something more substantial, evidence I'm me that's not revealed in the ad ("I was also wearing my hair down and green flip flops").

I have no idea who he is. Generally, I wear guy blinders when I'm out. We never had a "moment" of eye contact or conversation that I was aware of. Do I ask for a photo? Ugh.

Also, is missed connections on Craigslist safe? Should I create a throwaway email account to respond? Should I agree to meet this guy if it gets to that point?

Ugh, I am stressing myself about such a silly thing so I thought I'd turn to the internet savvy and intuitive masses at AskMetafilter to see what you guys think. I'm actually kind of embarrassed by the event as well..

How common is this Craigslist experience? Should I even respond? How should I respond?

Thanks in advance!
posted by fiasco to Human Relations (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Where would you like to take this?

I'm guessing he wanted to meet up for coffee, with the eventuality of dating, or was it not a romantic, hey you are so beautiful, let me take you out," kind of post.

Are you currently in a relationship? If not, then respond. If you are, ignore the post and move on with your life. It sounds like, from your post, you are a little flustered. Don't be.
posted by TheBones at 11:35 AM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

What are the odds? I'm also on MeFi, and happened to see your post.

(I have no relevant experience, but my intuition suggest that you should reply if the possibility of meeting him interests you, volunteer only such personal information as you feel comfortable divulging (but there's no reason to suppose that he'll think you're a fake unless you do so), ask for a picture if that's material to you, and use a throwaway email address.)
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 11:44 AM on August 28, 2010

You don't owe him a response.

If you think a blind date with a guy you've never met sounds like fun, I don't see why you shouldn't proceed as you would if he had seen your profile on a dating site - that is, with due attention to your personal safety.

If you don't, then it would be a lot simpler not to reply, but just to take it as a compliment, smile and move on.
posted by emilyw at 11:44 AM on August 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

As far as safety on Craigslist, it's no better or worse than other dating sites. Creeps are everywhere, but regular, nice people are everywhere, too. Throwaway email is good practice w/r/t dating online, so just set one up and do contact through there until you're fairly sure this is a decent person. Make sure the throwaway doesn't have any identifying info. If the person turns out sketchy, he won't have an easy way of harassing you.

Regardless of guy-blinders, you've got a great excuse to ask for a photo ("Yeah I might've seen you, can you send me a reminder?") to determine if this is the sort of person you are physically attracted to enough to date. Assuming you'll be replying because you want to date. People don't post Missed Connections because they missed out on potential friends.

Respond. Get a bit of rapport going and go out. Have fun!
posted by griphus at 11:49 AM on August 28, 2010

Creeps are everywhere.

Missed connections I would imagine is fairly benign compared to the rest of CL adult, but you would still do everything that you would do with a date with someone you've never met; very public place, tell multiple people where you are going, if you're really worried, enlist a friend to sit at the back of the room and watch, for sure enlist someone to call you to be the bailout/safety call in the middle of the date.

I used to read the back page of the Village Voice obsessively hoping for a missed connection!
posted by micawber at 11:55 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

As far as whether you should message or meet him, that's entirely up to you and what you're comfortable with -- I would be curious enough to message him at least and see what happens, but that's a highly personal decision.

But as for: Do I just write, "Hey, you found me." I think that's a good way to start: "Hey, you found me. I wear the green flipflops and baseball cap. So who are you?" is probably about the message I would start with. I wouldn't leave my name, and I would use a throw-away address. Agreeing to meet him would depend on if you established some sort of communication with him over at least a few messages, didn't see any warning signs or get any kind of bad vibe from him, and, again, wanted to. Then you could just do normal blind-date etiquette stuff: meet in a public place for coffee or some other short-time-frame activity, etc.
posted by frobozz at 11:59 AM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you think a date with someone who is not a creep would be nice, then you may be in luck, since utilizing the powers of e-mail to discern creepiness is cheap, commitment-free and at least semi-reliable. Meet in a public place, be safe, and have fun.
posted by thejoshu at 12:01 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm with emilyw. If you're available for dating and you think you might enjoy meeting this guy? Then yes, definitely!--Go email him now. ...On the other hand, if you're just surprised at the coincidence and flattered to be the subject of a missed connection, it's probablyt better to take this compliment silently and don't waste his time or yours.
posted by applemeat at 12:05 PM on August 28, 2010

Can you put up the link for the Missed Connection? Maybe there are some clues in the ad in how you should respond (if at all).
posted by WhiteWhale at 12:23 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

When in doubt, be honest. "I'm not sure how to respond, but I think you're talking about me. Here's a picture, could you send one? Ever posted to Missed Connections before? Anyway, thanks for the nice surprise!"
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:55 PM on August 28, 2010

Although it might be legit and you won't know unless you respond, I should point out I had a friend who told me that she and her friends would often Missed Connections ads as a goof for their friends to discover. So in addition to the connector possibly being a sleaze or psycho, it could be a goof.
posted by birdherder at 12:56 PM on August 28, 2010

My wife and I met (re-met, as it turned out) on the basis of shakier stuff - she was looking for a mutual friend's e-mail address and couldn't find it but found mine and recognized the name. So I'd say go for it, taking the above advice into account - throwaway e-mail, watch the info. I'd consider taking a new picture to send him rather then sending Image 36 of 70 from your Facebook folder, since savvy creeps can use that as an entry point to more info.
posted by Golfhaus at 2:11 PM on August 28, 2010

Yeah I would ask for a pic as a "reminder." Other than that, that is a crazy coincidence. I'd kinda always wonder about what could have been if I liked the pic. Go for it, what the hell? No worse than online dating.
posted by CwgrlUp at 2:34 PM on August 28, 2010

I had a CL missed connection in May*; a friend saw it, recognized it as me and passed it along. We had been working on a social practice event in a public area (think, four-square tournament with passers-by and folks dressed up as robots). After some consideration, I wrote back:
"Wow, I'm flattered! Did you catch the robots?

He responded:
"I did see the robots! It was pretty hilarious. I liked their scientist guy!

I'm glad you saw the post. I have a girlfriend and I hope you didn't get any high hopes from this. I was just really struck at how pretty you are.** I hope you have a great day!

Take care!
So if you do decide to email him, you can make small talk or start a conversation and see where it goes from there. It might just be that he thought you were attractive and wanted to say hi, and that's the end of it. You can better gauge how you feel after a few casual emails back and forth, though.

*Said ad may or may not be still hanging on my fridge, in lieu of macaroni art.

**Now I feel a little vain, but I was surprised and flattered and totally caught unaware! It's nice to get an ego boost every once in a while. :)

posted by girlalex at 3:14 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and while I responded from my actual email address, he wrote back from a throwaway email and only used his first name. So, I guess I should have been a bit more careful. (and I will never know the identity of this admirer!)
posted by girlalex at 3:16 PM on August 28, 2010

girlalex, very neat exchange. I have to admit I'm surprised that someone would post on Craigslist with the original intention of simply communicating how pretty you were -- perhaps the dude got cold feet, or things solidified with the girlfriend, or the robots' glow faded.

Or perhaps there's a new ethic of random (non-spontaneous) compliments that has cruelly passed me by!
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:32 PM on August 28, 2010

Oh man, I would love it if I found a missed connection for me! I've found some for friends, usually because the ad has cited their distinctive tattoos or something like that. One of my guy friends responded to an ad a girl posted for him and she turned out to be nice, even though things didn't work out. I personally have met several people through Craigslist and don't feel like Craigslist automatically equals totally creepy. If you can suss out who is creepy offline, you can probably get a pretty good feel for if someone is creepy when they're online.

Anyway, use a throwaway email and get a picture of him before you meet. This is assuming he's not one of those "you had awesome jugs and i wanna bang u" posters. If it sounded normal, then he's probably pretty normal too.
posted by Fuego at 4:51 PM on August 28, 2010

Yeah, get a photo, and don't be shy as to why you want it -- everybody would/will understand that you'd want to see them first -- but then, if he's easy on the eyes, hey, why not meet him for a cup of coffee?

Every precaution that any sane person would take of course -- public place, and yeah, maybe a friend there on the lookout, too -- and anonymous email of course, and also an arrangement for one of your friends to call after exactly 27 minutes, so you can get out of there easily "Oh, I've to go meet Myrtle, and help her make a pie -- dang!"

I was crushing on a woman at this local caffeine emporium -- She's just so darling! -- and (foolishly) told a buddy about it, and he told a buddy of his, and one night when she was lamenting how men suck, and no one wants her, blah blah blah, this guy told her that some guys are just trembling around beauty, is all.

And now of course she's *got* to know who I am.

So I sent her an email, and I'm not pushing anything at all -- I'm about a hundred years older than she is, plus I'm unbelievably gunshy at present, and wary, and backed off of it all -- I wrote and sent this email, in which I told her that I did and do indeed find her to be just about the darlingest woman in Austin, and that I do in fact tremble to see her, and like that. I told her I was gunshy, too, and doddering maybe, and that I'd never have said a word, and lamented that anyone had, but hey, here we are. And she responded, nicely, and we met, and we got on, and we get on -- we're friendly and all -- and that's about all there is to this little Saturday evening tale, and I'm not even sure as to why I even told you.

But it seems that I did so, and maybe from it you can take that it'll maybe be an okay thing to meet this guy -- at least to email him -- and at the least you'll get a coffee with someone who thinks you are rocking, it could be a fun evening, a memory for you. Maybe he'll light you up -- who knows, right? -- and maybe he won't, but I'd think it'd be a fun piece of life, or could be, if you can shed the awkwardnesses around it all and just let it unfold.

I hope you email him.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:08 PM on August 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Oh dear, this happened to me (missed connections) and resulted in my current relationship. We've been together for four years.

Just answer from an email account that you feel safe with. Keep it all email for as long as you need to to feel comfortable. Sometimes (!) people are not creeps and sometimes crazy romantic things do happen. I hope this is the case for you. Just be carfeful.
posted by marimeko at 5:17 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Personally, I have more respect for the true missed connections (like, where you both actually met, talked, but left without any contact info) than the ones that essentially say 'I saw you, you were cute/hot/etc but I was too afraid to say anything'. This sounds like the latter, But anyways that's just my opinion.
posted by mannequito at 5:48 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

The majority of people on CL are normal. While you don't owe it to the guy to connect with him, it is a nice thing to acknowledge people for reaching out.
posted by gryftir at 7:35 PM on August 28, 2010


Run away. Please. Run... the... hell... away.


Here. Do this - call up someone who loves you, anyone you knows you and wants you to be alive. A friend, a parent, someone who you went to school with 20 years ago who kind of remembers you but isn't sure if you are karen with the red hair or karen from english class and ask them. Literally, anyone at all who thinks that you probably shouldn't be axe murdered and die.

They will say... (See Above)
posted by meta x zen at 11:10 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Proper grammar, spelling and punctuation is a big signal. I say get in touch via email!

Who knows? If you are looking for someone, it could be great.
posted by elvissa at 11:10 PM on August 28, 2010

girlalex is totally spot-on!

The odds of you having read it are so low that I would feel a little "wow cool" just to have found you, even if all you replied with was "thanks, flattered, but not interested (in anything). Given that there were no creepy vibes, and it was well-composed, a response like girlalex recommends is thus totally appropriate. Give someone some little good feeling for the day, ok?

Whether you take it from small talk into anything else, meh, whatever. Your problem later.
posted by whatzit at 12:10 AM on August 29, 2010

You definitely have the prerogative to ask for his photo-- I mean, he knows what you look like, so it's only fair.
posted by threeants at 12:43 AM on August 29, 2010

Clyde Mnestra, I definitely want/have tried to start doing more 'nice just because' stuff since that exchange!

fiasco, I hope you let us know whatever you do decide and how it goes! :)
posted by girlalex at 1:00 AM on August 29, 2010

Don't live in fear. Figure out what you want from this Missed Encounter - do you want to undo the 'missed' part? Do you just want to acknowledge that you got the message? Do you actually want to meet someone, with a possible friendship or romance in the future? Follow the advice of those above regarding the logistics, be aware and be prepared, but most importantly don't live in fear. Craigslist isn't fundamentally different from real life.
posted by foobario at 1:07 AM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Run away. Please. Run... the... hell... away.


Here. Do this - call up someone who loves you, anyone you knows you and wants you to be alive. A friend, a parent, someone who you went to school with 20 years ago who kind of remembers you but isn't sure if you are karen with the red hair or karen from english class and ask them. Literally, anyone at all who thinks that you probably shouldn't be axe murdered and die.

They will say... (See Above)

meta x zen, I hope this was cathartic for you, or gave you some other kind of pleasure, because it's otherwise entirely without value. Unless you like making the original poster -- advised to use a throwaway email, meet in public, go with a friend, etc. -- nervous, in which case it's sadistic. If you have some reason why she would remain doomed, you might spell it out.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:50 PM on August 29, 2010

You could always write a missed connection back on CL, linking back to the original

You: Stranger on the internet who posted about me. Respectable writing, with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Does not seem sleazy.

Me: Hottie you noticed doing xxx at the yyy. I saw your post, and it piqued my interest. Unfortunately, I was unable to respond because I was totally speechless.

I am interested in finding out more about you. Email me at throwawayemail@gmail.com

posted by I am the Walrus at 6:24 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

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