By Nikki Yeager
I’m from Cleveland, OH. Land of burning rivers, Great Lakes Brewing company and a general distaste for online dating. After all, only weirdos and losers need to turn to the internet for love. Right?
After growing up in Cleveland, I moved to NYC as a teenager. I loved everything about it and found dozens of new methods for friend-making when removed from my suburban environment. I met people from CouchSurfing, from Meetups and Eventful. My propensity for online friend-making eventually morphed into something more. I decided it was time to “settle down” and find myself a husband when I turned 20 and to do that I took my search straight to the internet.
Now, I still had some holdover prejudice against online dating that was deeply seated in my psyche. So I couldn’t quite bring myself to pay for a website like eHarmony. Instead, I justified my dating endeavor by making it into an experiment. I was going to find a free website to test the dating waters, and if nothing else I would have some great fodder for my blog.
So I did what any sane, single girl would do – I went on Craigslist. My post was practically titled: “Not a Psycho Killer or a Crazy Stalker. Yay!!!” because, obviously, I didn’t want be murdered. In the post itself I wrote exactly what I wanted: A serious relationship that could eventually lead to marriage. A man who was passionate about something in life, no matter what it was (even if that something happened to be taking out the trash – he just needed to wake up excited about doing it). Someone who could deal with my overwhelming enthusiasm for, well, everything. And a warning: “I am trying to find a long term relationship so don’t expect amazing, animal like sex on the first date (and probably not the second either.)”
More importantly, I considered what I did not want to include in the post. There was no picture of me and no physical features listed. I did not request that my suitors be of a particular income level or appearance. I figured I’d remove the possibility of meeting the wrong type of guy by clearly stating what I did want and omitting any items that would attract the person I didn’t want.
Within the first hour I had over one hundred responses. So I came up with a system to speed up the elimination process. I would only respond to men who had written at least three complete sentences, had included a picture (I wanted to make sure they were real) and could be verified as human beings after a quick Google search.
When I responded, I was open and honest, including a link to my Facebook, blog and Twitter in my email signature so any potential man-of-mine could easily find information about me with just a few clicks. After one or two emails with any person, I suggested that we meet and then I let the guy do the planning.
From there, the dating began.
I sincerely suggest that every single female try serial dating for at least a week online. During that time I went to multiple broadway shows, ate at an amazing Indian restaurant, saw an off broadway one-man act, attended a dance lesson, drank at multiple bars and wandered around multiple parks. As I learned about each person, I also learned a little bit more about the city I lived in and got to experience new things every night – for free!
And surprisingly, not a single person I met was “weird”. My inner Clevelander was shocked, confused and a little disappointed that I didn’t have better stories to tell. However, I found something better than a great story. I found myself a husband.
The first guy I went out with was my age, a native Brooklyner and wrote his initial email with the type of wit and charm you rarely come across in online writing. For our first date he took me on a tour of Chinatown, where I was living at the time. He’d studied the neighborhood in college and told me all about the history, changing demographics and even the illegal activity going on in alleyways and underground buildings all around me. He’d done his research and read all about me on my website before the date so he knew just how much I was drawn to other cultures. Plus, I’d travelled and lived in multiple countries so I clearly liked to experience the unknown. He figured he’d bring that passion to life while we were still conveniently located in NYC.
After the informal tour, we wandered off to his favorite pizza place in Manhattan (another thing he studied in college, albeit less formally) and again he told me all about the history of pizza parlors in New York, weaving in his experiences growing up in the city. During the entire date we didn’t have a single lull in conversation. I loved that he could share things with me that I’d never known about. Plus, he was as equally intense of a listener as he was a talker.
At the end of the date, I turned him down.
Sure we had fun, but was he the person I’d settle down with? He wasn’t set in his career and, to my abject horror, he still lived at home.
So I went on more and more dates. But he kept popping up. He’d send me a quick email once in a while or we’d meet for coffee when he was in the city. I made it clear that it wouldn’t work, but he still called me to see how things were going and showed up at every one of my art shows without fail.
Eventually he wore me down. He won.
And now, as I look at my wonderful husband, I can say that he is the best – and only – person in the world for me. A person I found on Craigslist.