Is cruising the web for love a dead end road?

Photo by Paige Bush

As the butt of jokes and the punchline of any bad Lifetime movie, the Craigslist personals have the reputation of being a catch all for creeps. But is it also a place of hope?

Scrolling through the personals, it’s easy to find ads for rough sex and suspicious hook ups or people who are just looking for brief human contact; there are wordings that would make anyone pause and shudder.

Nearly everyone has heard some kind of horror story about a meet up gone wrong, whether it’s on Tinder, Grindr or even Craigslist. There’s a whole Reddit culture devoted to telling stories that may or may not be true, but are nevertheless concerning. Craigslist itself has a page devoted to safety, wherein they tell you that almost no one is murdered in meet ups anymore, but then go on to say never to go anywhere without your cell phone and telling a friend where you’re going first.

“Make sure the people that matter to you know where you are. And don’t trust pictures that people put online — those are too easy to fake,” Inspector Mike Haffner of the Waterloo Regional Police Services said.

But there are also genuine calls for companionship and even platonic love. Craigslist is an internet pool of people shouting into the void for a connection.

There are endless posts on the missed connection section, from dick pics to poems to pleas, asking for another call after a failed date.

There are ads for threesomes that get disturbingly detailed and quests for ‘unicorns’ that usually go unanswered.

But beyond the sex, there are posts that detail people, from their height and weight to what their hobbies are and what they’re looking for in another person. It’s a bit like reading a personal diary entry and it’s hard not to feel something for the people who put themselves in condensed, typed form in the hope someone will answer them.

Who knows how much hope these people really have, if they truly believe that they’ll find what they’re looking for.

One post from a woman who described herself as curvy, 45 and divorced was one of the more innocent posts. She asked to be contacted by a man who enjoys spending quiet time with her “fur babies.”

These posts are jarring in contrast to the headings like “Thinking About Having an Affair” and “You Know What They Say About Gingers” (with an attached picture that I did not click).

But they’re all looking to not be alone, especially as Valentine’s Day approaches. It’s a gamble, but Craigslist may just be the way to find (a very specific kind of) true love.

Some people may be searching for soulmates, but it’s still a good idea to remember that not every post is good intentioned. The Waterloo Regional Police recommend treating Craigslist or any online interaction like it were any blind date — use caution and remember that any photos posted will be on the internet forever. Any identifiable information should never be handed out via an online chat where you can’t see the other person.

So tell someone where you’re going first and always bring your phone. Some people really do find love this way, but only if they’re safe about it.

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