subway missed connections
What Happens When Missed Connections Work Out (Or Really Don’t)
01.03.20

Despite the fact that it employs modern technology, there’s something charmingly old-fashioned about Craigslist Missed Connections. If it weren’t online, it could just as easily be a lonely hearts bulletin board in the town square—an enduring social resource that proves there’s a little romance left in all of us. I recently typed it into my browser after a friend told me it was defunct and experienced a ridiculous wave of relief when I found it still alive and kicking. Just that day, 70 people had posted looking for someone they’d seen in New York, and it was only noon. (Almost half of them were smut, but still.)

Curious to know if anyone in my orbit had actually found an ad about themselves, or put one up in search of another, I asked my social network to send me stories. I received a flood of anecdotes so delightful, haunting, and funny I couldn’t help but share them. Some proved the tool could use an update (or a replacement—one recommended Lex for the queer community), and others reminded me how glad I am that there’s still recourse when someone memorable gets away.


The One With the Happy Ending

“Ten years ago I had just moved into my first apartment in the East Village, and my dad, who worked uptown, called to say he’d bought me a vacuum cleaner, and that I should come pick it. So I went up to get it and he handed me this huge box and gave me $20 for a taxi. Of course I thanked him for both but opted to pocket the $20 and take the subway. I struggled on the 6 train with my vacuum and got in a fight about it and was all flustered because it was heavier and more cumbersome than I imagined.

Missed Connections Stats

Then, on my walk home, I accidentally brushed the bags of this homeless man who lived in my neighborhood and he got super upset and started screaming at me. I meekly said I was sorry, which only upset him more so he started following me. I tried to speed up but the box I was struggling because the box was so awkward, and when I finally got to my door he’d caught up and was getting more agitated, swinging his arms around. I was sure he was going to hit me when this guy in a red scarf rode by on his bike and immediately pulled over and put himself between me and the guy. I was near tears then and didn’t know what to do, but the guy on the bike turned around and told me to get inside and we made this eye contact for just a minute that I can still remember.I went up all five flights fully crying.

I was just alone in my apartment distraught, and suddenly it crystallized how cute the guy was and how he, ya know, ‘saved my life.’ So I went on Craigslist and wrote a Missed Connection: ‘Guy on bike saves girl with luggage East Village.’ A few hours later I got some positively lewd replies and thought of taking the post down when suddenly in my inbox was the dorkiest and sweetest email. A week later we had our first date. A few months later we were moving in together and a few years later we were married. I guess while he was explaining the story to his coworkers, one of them said, ‘Hey you should check Missed Connections. I mean, if you were ever to get one it would be for this.'”

—Caitlin, 33

The Ones That Went Horribly Wrong

“I convinced my roommate to write one back in 2011, after she met a random guy at a bar—and of course he was the type to check Missed Connections. They went out and things escalated quickly. Turns out he had just arrived in the city, was homeless, and was trying to get a busking license—that was his only plan. He became really intense really quickly (like in the span of two days). She cut things off soon after but then he began sending wild conspiracy messages to her on Facebook equating her not talking to him to the fact that 9/11 was an inside job. Also, my other roommate and I were talking about it once, being paranoid that he had somehow planted microphones in our unit, and then an hour later he posted something on her Facebook page along those lines. 🤷🏼‍♀️”

—Maria, 30

If there was ever a time to use Craigslist Missed Connections, this had to be it.

“Heavy eye contact on the train. Got off at same stop on the way to work, he turned and waved. Thought we’d never connect again. If there was ever a time to use Craigslist Missed Connections, this had to be it. He found it. We went on a date. He told me he thought he was Bill Clinton’s illegitimate child. Tried to meet up again, then sent me a lengthy email about how he can’t have any interaction, let alone date a person, or keep plants at home. Needless to say we didn’t really hang out again….”

—Anonymous

Missed Connections Stats

“Shockingly, I have been the subject of and responded to not one, but two missed connections. The first: I started checking Missed Connections a lot when Occupy Wall Street started because I had a theory that there would be a ton of MCs from Zuccotti Park. Lo and behold, someone posted looking for me—he had been taking pics there all day and I was randomly at the center of one. I knew it was me because he described the dress I was wearing. I was midway through a self-prescribed “year of yes” after breaking up with a boyfriend of four years and moving back in with my parents, so I messaged him back and we went on a very nice date. We got along well, but there were no sparks and a few months later I moved away.

Later that same year (of yes), I took the LSAT and it was snowing, so I was lazy and wore pajamas and slippers. I took the test and came back home. My mom (lovely nosy Jewish mom) was unsatisfied by my reports on how it went so she Googled some combination of ‘LSAT’ and the date and location of the test. Then I heard her whispering about me to my dad and realized that, in her Googling, she had found a Missed Connection someone had written about me from the LSAT. I knew it was me because it mentioned the paint on my slippers (which had happened during a late-night naked paint bonfire party).

I had absolutely no idea who the person was, despite the fact that the post said that we ‘had a vibe.’ Since I was still in my ‘year of yes,’ I replied and met him for a date. It turned out he was decades older than me, really wanted to talk about the LSAT, and was the intern who (famously?) sued Black Swan for not paying its interns. I ran the fuck away very quickly and then later looked him up and discovered he had become a corporate lawyer.”

—Becca, 33

The Ironic and Taboo

Missed Connections Stats

“I wrote an ad on Missed Connections about a guy I rode the Amtrak train with. We made eyes at each other for a while and I was in a dating rut and decided to go for it. I never got a response. A few months later, I ended up talking to him on the train and gave him my name and place of employment (a large university we both worked at). He sent me a note via our interoffice mail. When we went out on a date, he asked if I sent a Missed Connection about him, and I said yes. He said the only reason he had the courage to ask me out is because he thought I had sent that Missed Connection! We’ve been together 6.5 years.”

—Brittani, 32

“I once dated a guy for a few months who posted about me on Missed Connections. I was in college and he was a TA, which is why I guess it was sort of taboo and he couldn’t come outright and ask me out. Or potentially he was just awkward…. The next morning, when I got to the newspaper office, everyone was abuzz about this cryptic Missed Connection that mentioned the newspaper. I went back to my dorm to giggle about it with my roommates (as one does) and my roommate kindly reminded me that it was me—in reference to my conversation with the hot poli-sci TA from the night before! We hooked up for a couple months, before I kindly told him it was time for me to date someone my own age 🤦‍♀️. (He was 25 at the time. I was 19.)”

—Adell, 29

The Ones With a Modern Twist

“So, Halloween 2018. I was at a Halloween party with this guy I was kinda seeing, and this other dude dressed as the doctor from Maniac walks in and we have a good conversation. The guy I’m seeing comes over and lays claim on me and the doctor kinda walks away, looks for me again, but doesn’t see me, and leaves shortly after. The next day on Bumble (I was new to it as I was recently divorced after 13 years), I see this very attractive dude but his name on the app is listed as ‘probably,’ which is weird. (I later learn he goes by ‘probably Jonas’ on Facebook.) So I swipe right and we start talking. Convo goes to Halloween costumes. He says he dressed as the doctor from Maniac; I say I just met someone in that costume. He says, ‘Was it this good?’ And sends me a photo of the guy I met in the living room where we met. I live in SF, a pretty big city for Bumble. So our theory is Bumble is low-key the new solution for Missed Connections and GPS brought us together. We’re still together.”

—Cheryl, 32

Ten minutes later she screams from her bedroom that the guy had posted on Missed Connections.

“Lol I got rejected over Craigslist Missed Connections—I posted one after there was a very cute guy at a coffee shop I frequented in Denver and the baristas saw it and told him about it. He responded to the listing, then we friended each other on Facebook, but he eventually just ghosted me.”

—Anonymous

A Disappointing End to an Otherwise Good Story

“My friend was biking next to a guy (when you bike roughly at the same pace as someone you end up stopping at the same cross streets again and again—weird NYC biking phenomenon), so they started chatting. Then she announced she was about to turn off thinking he’d say something about connecting, but he didn’t and she panicked, made the turn, and then considered turning around. We talked about it that night, went to book club together, and I told her she should post to Missed Connections. She said that was creepy, but I said if anyone checks Missed Connections to see if someone posted then they will automatically not think that it was creepy. We got home at 1 a.m. (book club, amiright) and went to bed. Ten minutes later she screams from her bedroom that the guy had posted on Missed Connections. They ended up going on a few dates, he got clingy way too fast, and she ended it…. A disappointing end to an otherwise good story.

—Meg

The Pranks

“I have two Missed Connections stories: One is that my friend made one up and it wound up on [a popular website] and everyone was trying to get the couple together, but it was fake! He only confessed to it years later. The second is from when I was in art school in NYC. Someone posted for a cute girl with bangs and a nose ring wearing a floral dress and docs who they saw at the art building, and it caused quite a stir because that was the description of probably half the girls in the BFA program at the time. 🙃”

—Kate, 30

“I have posted a Craigslist Missed Connection. I never met anyone through it, but the social group I had in college were high-key obsessed with them—oftentimes friends would post to it as a prank trying to bait a particular friend into responding earnestly.”

—Ellin, 27

The Ones That Got Away

“I nearly spit out my chicken sandwich at brunch two weekends ago. I hit my friend next to me and said, ‘Omg Julia, look at that woman, she’s so hot she looks like Clea DuVall and I think we just made eye contact.’ My friend looked at her and was like, ‘…Bailey, she literally looks just like you.’ Upon a double take, I realized she DID. This was masculine-energy ME and I’d never been more enamored.

After several trips to the bathroom to try to catch her eye (if she did notice me I realize now she probably thought I was sick or something), we concluded she was with a blonde girl. I was too fucking hungover to talk to her but I definitely wrote and posted a Missed Connection on Lex before I had even left the restaurant. I’ve gotten no hits and I’ve never regretted not talking to someone more. She literally looked exactly like me but butch and when I say that is my DREAM, I mean it. Truly she was my ideal person. A dream come true and I missed it.”

—Bailey, 25

To the cute girl with blonde hair working the cash today, I tried to make small talk but was too smitten to take it anything further. I’ll be back.

“I was 24 and waiting in the full-service parking garage with my mother downtown. We both worked only a few blocks from each other and I was helping her carry several large tote bags full of white towels (she’s a hairstylist, so pretty normal). I was in a weird place emotionally and in general—I was a few years out of college but still wasn’t feeling like a capable or focused adult, and it didn’t help that it coincided with a year-long dry-spell after being cheated on in the first month of a new relationship. Essentially I was a tightly wound ball of shame and nervous energy.

Missed Connections Stats

Regardless, it was the kind of parking garage where they have attendants park your car for you and it was rush hour so there was a crowd waiting by the pickup desk. A few strangers away from me was the most well-dressed man I had ever seen in person outside of the one celebrity I have met in real life. He had the most amazingly tailored medium-gray suit on and he was somehow able to do that no-socks-and-brogues thing that very few men can do without looking embarrassing—all while sporting some Shakespeare in Love-level dreamy dark curls and, IDK, I just lost it. It felt like if I could convince this man to see me as a woman, something would click. So, of course, instead of speaking to him I made some aggressive levels of eye contact and memorized every detail for my Missed Connections post.

I got a handful of responses. Some tried their best to BS their way through my test questions to prove they were who I wanted them to be. Most were more direct, opening with their ‘measurements’ or just a straight-up dick pic. One person I really thought might be him—he spoke like a real person in his emails and was just convincing enough until I asked what the bag I was holding looked like and he responded with picture of his balls.”

—Ellin, 27

“I once had one written about me—I worked at a thrift store in a smallish town, so people had even sent me the post. It said something along the lines of, ‘To the cute girl with blonde hair working the cash today, I tried to make small talk but was too smitten to take it anything further. I’ll be back.’ I always wondered if one of the people I spoke with for the rest of my time at the thrift store was this person again, and if I was having a bad day and brushed them off or if they ever actually came back? I never knew. It’s a weird feeling to know someone knows you but you don’t know them, and to wonder if something could have come out of it. I don’t know. Cheers to my mysterious Craigslist poster, hope you’re still out there!”

—Jessie, 22

The Offline One

“I was in New York for two weeks (I live in France) and had three missed connections with the same person (what’s wrong with me 🤷‍♀️). I first saw him while crossing the street, then a few minutes later I found myself standing right next to him in front of Saks where we were both admiring the light show and glancing at each other (how Hallmark movie of us). Then he left with someone who I believe was his dad. And an hour later, as I was walking down the crowded street, who do I see walking toward me? YES, him again! The whole time I was like, ‘Third time’s the charm, it’s a sign, do something!’ I mean, seeing the same man? In NYC? Three times in a row? The same day?

We passed each other, looked at each other… then nothing happened 🥺. I later told the story to the friend I was staying with and for someone who doesn’t give a damn about men and relationships she had just the best advice: ‘You should have asked him to take a picture of you in front of the light show.’ I’m quite shy but not that shy, so I don’t know what paralyzed me that day. A month later it’s still haunting me. Of course I had to jump on this opportunity to tell my story, so I thank you for that 🥂!

—Selma, 33

Graphics by Coco Lashar

Get more Brain Massage ?