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Finding friends on Craigslist: Lessons learned

Published: October 15, 2015 | Last Updated: October 15, 2015 By | 18 Replies Continue Reading
Craigslist (screenshot)

Craigslist (screenshot)

In this guest post, an anonymous reader talks about her experience seeking out platonic friendships on Craigslist.

Grump seeks archnemesis: Three lessons from three years of posting Craigslist friendship ads

by the Bitter Grump

If you live in the Portland, Oregon area and have perused the Craigslist w4w (woman looking for another woman) platonic friendship ads at the right time of year, you may have “met” me. And by met, I mean you may have seen my ads and either had a good laugh because I’m extraordinarily funny or gotten really annoyed because I’m extraordinarily whiny. What I am depends on who you are.

I’ve posted ads regularly since 2012. And by regularly, I mean I choose one month every year or two where I methodically run three different ads a week, either until I reach twelve ads or until enough people agree to meet me that I feel good about the odds of making a new friend.

I like to take the clichés from other ads and twist them around. My humor is that simple. Most people write in their friendship ad that they don’t want flakes or drama queens, so I post “Bitter Grump seeks flakey drama queen.” Many women post they’re looking for a bestie, so I post “Bitter Grump wants a worstie.” Bitter Grump is picky. Bitter Grump is a very inconvenient friend. You get the idea. I’ve met over a dozen women thanks to these ads, and exchanged emails with many more. The top three lessons I’ve learned:

Most attempts at friendship will fail

My odds have been about 1-in-8. That’s one friend for every eight people I’ve met face-to-face, seven rejections for every one friend I’ve made. Even people who write things like “OH MY GOD!! Be my friend Bitter Grump” cannot be guaranteed to actually, oh my God, be my friend. I’ve had to learn to accept rejection gracefully. Like playing jazz or training parrots, handling rejection is painful, but it becomes easier with practice. I’ve had to learn how to reject others in a kind and reasonable way too.

The more self-aware you are, the better you’ll be at recognizing compatibility

A woman answering one of my ads recently wrote “I don’t know what my commitment level to friendship is. I’m flakey, but I’ll always be honest about it!” While I appreciated her honesty, I interpreted those words as I don’t know what I want, and I’m not reliable. Luckily for us both, I know what I want: reliable women who aren’t going to make me guess what they want.

If you don’t know what you want, how can you recognize compatibility? It’s worth your time to figure yourself out. I’ve discovered, though, that the usual things many women think make people compatible—age, marital status, children, location, appearance, and (sadly) even weight—often don’t. If you’re specifically looking for playdates for your kids or a couple to double date with, then it makes sense to look for someone with kids or someone with a partner. My experience tells me those arbitrary details tend to be lousy filters when you’re just looking for “a friend.”

Meeting a woman your age won’t do any good if she expects the two of you to spend every weekend together when the only free time you have is weekday lunch hour. Insisting that you’ll only befriend married women may filter out a potentially great unmarried hiking buddy, which is unfortunate if all you really want is a hiking buddy.

Become aware of your (unconscious) expectations, because people with highly mismatched expectations are generally not compatible. How often do you need to see a new friend to build a connection? What activities do you want to do with her? What flaws can you tolerate? How important is reliability? Flexibility? Use those things to guide your search.

Too many people who want a friend don’t know how to be a friend

Want to have a friend? Be a friend. Show up. Realize that friendship doesn’t happen overnight, and show up anyway. Especially when you’re building a connection with someone new, you need to do things to, you know, connect. Put your cell phone away and really show up. Hike together. See a movie together. Eat lunch together. Engage in small talk. I’m amazed at the number of women who want to skip small talk. What exceptionally private information do you think I’m going to share with you if you get bored and squirmy every time I try to have a normal adult conversation with you? Skipping small talk does not make us friends any faster.

Don’t expect other women to do things for you that you aren’t willing to do for them. Don’t demand they do things for you because you pushed unwanted helpfulness on them. Don’t expect them to ignore their own needs to meet yours. Oh, and of course, don’t ignore your own needs to meet theirs. Good luck!


About the author: When the Bitter Grump isn’t busy posting on Craigslist, she keeps herself preoccupied with science writing and translating, attempting jazz improvisation, and training her Gold-capped conure.

 What are your thoughts about using Craigslist as a vehicle to meet new friends?


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Category: MAKING FRIENDS, Where to meet friends

Comments (18)

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  1. Pete says:

    First i will say i am bisexual male…
    I discovered the personals on craigslist after me and my wife divorced..
    One day my curiousity as well as my “horniness” got the best of me… i page through the posting of men near my town that were looking for a m4m casual hookup.. being bisexual with a strong attaction to both sexes, i decided… if this could be extremely discreet i would give it a shot…
    I answer an posting that had a pic of a guys body that looked pretty hot to me..
    We ended up meeting up, and immediately began touching each other.. oral sex followed as well as anal….
    We parted ways but swapped cell phone numbers and told each other we wanted to meet and do this again.. months went by and i got a “whats up text?” One day….
    I was not busy that afternoon and yesss… i was a bit horny too…
    We met up and repeated our first encounter,,,
    This happened a few times over the next month.. yes the sex was great!!! And thats all it was, just two men secretly pleasureing each other sexually….
    At some point we started to become good friends as we always talked about our families, our life struggles, or careers, all small talk basiclly….
    Eventually within another month we started hanging out together more often, which didntalways involve having sex… we went grabbed a burger together went for rides together to near by cities and did shopping at the malls, ect… a few times we did a couple nights out walking and talking in the parks as well as playing slots at a nearby casino..
    We were texting several times a day just to keep in touch, sending each other stupid little Jokes to each other…
    3 months ago his lease expired with notice that the house was being sold and his lease would not be renewed…
    He started looking for a new place…
    I own my home and lived alone,, he was at my home several times before, and stopped in many times as this was where we shared many sexual encounters together…
    Afew days until his lease was ended he needed a place to stay,,, i suggested stay here until you find a nice place.. i had already met most of his family and he had met many of mine… we were pretty good friends… yet nobody suspected what our relationship really was…
    It has been almost a year and he is still here,, he is the best friend i ever had.. no one knows about our private life at all.. we both have our own rooms but of course we really only use one..
    He is totally gay, only attracted to me, he has no sexual desire toward women at all. Again im by and find guys like him as well as some women to be very sexy!!
    Our relationship works,it doesnt always involve being sexual together, although sex happens alot, its sometimes feels like we been together forever and learned to just be there for each other watch movies,cuddle,and cook each other meals, as well as sharing the household work, as well as the household expenses..
    We never fell asleep without a hug and a little kiss. we talk and respect each other and each others families. An truely enjoy pulling jokes on each other.
    He is a great companion,, an excellent roomate!! LOL… but most of all we are BEST FRIENDS!!
    I truely never thought this would happen from answering a craigs list casual encounter posting,,, but im sure happy it did..

    • Jared says:

      I’m glad it worked out for you, Pete, but what you have does not qualify as friendship.

      If you’re with someone who wants to have sex with you, it is more than a platonic relationship. This article/forum is about finding friends, not secret lovers. From what I see, most people view craigslist as a way to get easy sex. Your story serves to confirm that.

    • Kath says:

      Lovely positive story.

  2. This post makes me worry about the world a bit. I had no idea you could advertise for friends on the internet. I suppose it is progress but I am really not sure.

  3. Lauren M says:

    I had a cursory look at Craigslist and mostly in my area they are 420 ers, and the ads seemed a bit ambiguous. I tend towards introversion, so CraigsList would not be for me. But from what you say, it really seems to work for you, so go with it.It was interesting to read your post.

    • GraceW says:

      There are a ton of “420 friendly” ads where I am too. I live in one of the three states where pot is legal, and getting high seems to qualify as a past-time that lots of people share. I’m not one of them. Like I need narcotics to make my memory worse and to induce snack attacks. I am already plenty good at forgetting names and eating more than I should when sober. In fact, I started writing my own ads because I gave up on answering other people’s ads.

      I’m an introvert too, and while I’m not opposed to meeting people “organically,” I work from home, so my day-to-day life is not teeming with opportunities to meet new people. I’m friendly, I smile, I belong to Meetup groups, and so on, but I could be waiting a long time for the stars to align to meet compatible people that way. Even if I *do* meet someone I like (and I tend to like most people), most people are “too busy” for a new friend. But when someone goes out of her way to answer my friendship ad, she better not tell me she’s too busy to meet. Just don’t answer my ad if you’re too busy, right? I also suspect the good friends I’ve met via Craigslist are women I wouldn’t have met otherwise, because even though we’re very compatible, our lives do not overlap.

      The whole process of writing ads has forced me to consider what really matters to me in terms of friendship, if nothing else. That alone has been invaluable.

      • Lauren M says:

        That’s good, Grace. It really works for you. Maybe one day I’ll try.
        I did enjoy reading your post. You are such an interesting writer. You do have a way with words. Thanks again for sharing.

      • Riley says:

        I know what you meant
        And I live in a city where even if pot smoking is illegal most of the ads still says 420
        As if they don’t care that they will be caught smoking it and I’ll go to jail because we got into an accident!!
        I don’t know what people are thinking
        I’m miserable in this town and all craigslist ads here are the same idiotic people in it
        Platonic and looking for sex
        To go to stripping with them
        I’m into science and arts and deep conversations
        When I look at it just once a while when I’m terribly lonely the more I want to say I’m done for
        I’m so alone and no one gets me
        I hate this city! So much!
        So much dumb people
        I’m sure there’s other cities with nicer ads
        Even the m4w section is all about sex
        And the men looking to date are like rapists

  4. Lauren M says:

    I like you funny, quirky pseudonym “Bitter Grump”. That’s humorous and amusing in a fun, off-beat kind of way, and I guess that it is true to character, so that helps in attracting friends who will be a good fit.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Maddie says:

    You made the big time Miss “Anonymous “lol.

  6. MM says:

    I really like this idea, but we don’t have this website in my country. And I’m concerned that people might misunderstand and take it as us wanting a romantic relationship. When we only want platonic friendships.

  7. Jared says:

    Good point, Laura, but I have to point out that you can meet crazy people organically through life as well. Often, you don’t know they’re crazy until you get to know them better.

  8. LauraSL says:

    I prefer to meet people organically through my daily life, both offline and online. With Craig’s List you really have to be careful about your personal safety and who you’re meeting and giving personal information to. I would only meet up in public in a busy place.

    • Jannifer says:

      I have done it a bunch of times and do it the most safe way – meeting in a public place for the first time. Through email we agree which coffee shop to meet at and what time. We give a general description of what to look for (Like I’ll say I have long brown hair and wear glasses). It’s been easy to spot the other person because they are looking around like they are looking for someone I don’t give any personal information until after we’ve met in person and then even then I only give out my Google Voice phone number, since Google Voice makes it extremely easy to block someone if there’s a problem.

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