What Craigslist’s missed connections are still good for (2024)

Part love letter, part scream into the void. Each one feels like the beginning of a rom-com that will be inevitably abandoned midway through production.

What Craigslist’s missed connections are still good for (1)

Published in

The Bold Italic


6 min read


Sep 28, 2023


By Cayenn Landau

My mom has this Craigslist printout from 2002 that she’s kept framed in the bathroom since I was a kid. The title reads: “SF I love you. Unrequitedly.”

In it, the author details their love for the city, loneliness within it, and feelings of hopelessness yet inevitability around leaving it for the fourth time. “You have opened my eyes and mind, and completely drained my soul, much like an early-20s relationship.”

Sometimes, I think my mom is the mysterious author, but she denies this. She lives across the bay. She loves that from her room, she can see the city skyline, very distantly.

The printout isn’t a Missed Connection, but I find it emblematic of many of the posts present on the forum: part love letter, part scream into the void, and deeply personal to the Bay Area. Tiny and nostalgic and electric with longing, each one feels like the beginning of a rom-com that will be inevitably abandoned midway through production.

“Our motivation is simply that this is something that happened to all of us,” said Craigslist founder Craig Newmark of the idea behind Missed Connections to the New York Times in 2005. He cited the name as a transportation metaphor: when a passenger misses part of the leg of a journey due to delays or errors or other issues.

What Craigslist’s missed connections are still good for (3)

In the 23-year history of Missed Connections, there have been some success stories: articles detailing Missed Connection romances have cropped up online from time to time. But Craigslist is full of unreliable narrators. For example: my roommate and I recently bought a ’77 moped off the site from a man who dropped it off wearing a very nice shirt with lots of mopeds on it. He had said that he had a hobby of fixing old mopeds and that this one was “perfect.” The bike didn’t have an off switch. It was essentially hotwired so that you had to press a live wire to the metal in between the handlebars to get it to turn off, at which point it would spark angrily. My roommate asked the man if he could fix this. “I did fix it,” he insisted. “It works!”

It did, technically. But our definitions of “it works” were very different.

What Craigslist’s missed connections are still good for (4)

In 2015, the New York Times published a Modern Love essay in which writer Rosemary Counter detailed recognizing herself in a post on a Missed Connection forum. The description read: “You were at the Drake Hotel, slim with red hair in a black satin top. I didn’t say hi because you were dancing with your friends. I’ve never done this before, but I thought hey, it’s worth a shot.” Counter met up with the man, and after a whirlwind romance, she discovered he was married. She was left uncertain as to if the original posting was even about her.

“He hadn’t chosen me,” she wrote. “Chance hadn’t favored me; it had targeted me, tapping something in me that was dormant but susceptible to romantic delusion.”

“It has a reputation of being kind of scammy,” said Jennah, a fellow San Francisco Bay-raised undergrad. She found herself browsing the Missed Connections forum for similar reasons as I did: she loved the range of emotion, especially the sweeter posts. But she also noted that many modern Missed Connections felt one-ended, or written by people whose recollections of a passing interaction might not be as meaningful or flirtatious as they perceived them. She said she’d seen posts in which people referenced connecting with workers servicing them at restaurants or venues, in which being friendly may have simply been part of the job.

“I think that the delusional ones are men that are misinterpreting kindness,” she said. “I don’t know how much of it is real.”

What Craigslist’s missed connections are still good for (5)

Visually, the site hasn’t changed in decades. It feels devoid of an algorithm; there are no sidebar ads or recommended products. As a result of this, there’s perhaps room for magic. It feels like the words “chance” and “fate” get thrown around a lot when people talk about Missed Connections, as Counter mentioned in her article.

But while Craigslist feels trapped in a time capsule, technology has advanced to the point where we experience spaces like Missed Connections in alternate forms that use algorithms in the place of fate. For example, dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr use real-time location services to help individuals find each other. “When we miss a connection, people will often just open Grindr and say ‘did I just see you at the Safeway?’ to a grid profile that looks vaguely familiar,” Bold Italic editor Saul Sugarman noted as he was shooting ideas at me for this piece.

What Craigslist’s missed connections are still good for (6)

We’re able to see on social media where strangers are and when through hashtags and live feeds. Virality helps too: TikToks where individuals publicly ask the Internet to track down a missed connection have led to success.

There are also college and university Missed Connections forums, often platformed via Instagram accounts. A friend recognized herself in a Stanford Missed Connections post during her freshman year of college. “When I got a missed connection I was sort of flattered — it was like ‘oh, girl in a red sweater who had a great smile in this class and section, you’re so pretty,’ but then it was also a little weird because I had to go back to class with that person and I wasn’t that into it. It was a strange vibe,” she said.

What Craigslist’s missed connections are still good for (7)

In the face of advancements in online dating and social media, Missed Connections might have morphed from a chance-meet-cute forum into a place to find closure for interactions we don’t know how to sit with. We’re a lot lonelier than we used to be, and some scientists say that distancing during the pandemic may have sparked a rise in social anxiety across the board. It’s not hard to imagine that reflecting on interpersonal experiences might be more difficult for us, and we’re all finding different ways to cope with it.

What Craigslist’s missed connections are still good for (8)

I think the reason I love the framed bathroom print-out so much isn’t because I am secretly convinced my mom wrote it and I love my mom (though that is true). It’s because so much of its content feels timely, even twenty years out: we don’t always know how we fit into this community, especially in times of change or tumult or coming-of-age. For lurkers on Missed Connections like me, the posts are a reminder that interpersonal complexity is normal, and isn’t always negative — many times it is beautiful. Sharing these complexities is beautiful, too.

“And still I love you,” read the final lines of the print-out — addressed to San Francisco but also the people, too. “You’re an affliction.”

What Craigslist’s missed connections are still good for (2024)


Is there an app for Missed Connections? ›

Goneby is here to revive your missed connections, so that you can follow that genuine "gut feeling." After all, scrolling through profiles has nothing on the real thing.

Why do people post on Missed Connections? ›

Craigslist's Missed Connections is a section where people can try to reconnect with someone they saw or met briefly in public but didn't get a chance to exchange contact information with. It's a place for people to try to find that person they regret not talking to or to see if the other person feels the same way.

How do Missed Connections work? ›

A missed connection is a type of personal advertisem*nt which arises after two people meet but are too shy or otherwise unable to exchange contact details. The "Missed Connections" section of Craigslist gets thousands of ads of this type every month in New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

What is a missed connection in love? ›

A missed connection encounter refers to a situation where two people have the potential to form a significant bond but fail to do so, often due to timing, circ*mstances, or misunderstandings. It's a moment of connection that remains unexplored.

What is the never missed app? ›

NeverMissed lets you instantly search for that person's profile—and turn what could have been a missed connection into a hopefully lasting one. With NeverMissed, you're never more than a few clicks away from making a long-term connection–for dating and beyond.

How does never missed work? ›

Enter Fleeting Moments. This feature allows you and others to input someone's details into the app that you missed the chance to say hello to. When we find a match, we'll show you a profile picture to confirm if it's the same person. A mutual “yes” opens up a conversation - it's that easy.

Can I get compensation for a missed connection? ›

Compensation for missed connecting flights

If passengers arrive at their destination over three hours late due to a missed connecting flight, you have the right to compensation as well as some additional benefits at the airport.

How do I write a missed connection? ›

Don't assume the person you think you missed a connection with saw you, let alone remembers you. Be specific! Name which train, which direction, the time, the street, the stop, the bar, their initials, hair color, eye color, embarrassing tattoo placement, the song that was playing on the Jukebox at the time...

Why do people constantly post online? ›

People also share as a means to make and maintain connections. Specifically, the New York Times' research revealed that 73% of people share online to meet others with shared interests and 78% share because it enables them to communicate with people they otherwise wouldn't stay in touch with.

Who is responsible for missed connection? ›

If you missed your connection due to the fault of the airline, the airline should rebook you on the next available flight to your destination. If the missed connection means that the flight is no longer serving the purpose of your original travel plan, you may also want to make use of your rights of reimbursem*nt.

What does missed connection guarantee mean? ›

Missed Connection can reimburse the additional costs for a traveler to catch up to their trip if they miss their departure for a covered reason. To be covered by the Missed Connection benefit, a traveler must experience a common carrier delay that lasts a specified amount of time, typically 3, 6, or 12 hours.

What is the missed connection trope? ›

A missed connection is defined by a type of personal advertisem*nt which arises after two people meet but are too shy or otherwise unable to exchange contact details.

Can you love someone but feel disconnected? ›

There are seasons of your relationship when you'll feel less connected to your partner. Unless it is an ongoing, painful issue that's never resolved despite your best efforts, a momentary disconnect is normal—not a death signal.

How do you know if you're losing love for someone? ›

You feel like you're withdrawing from your partner, or you're not physically responsive to them. You ignore your partner. If you used to ask about their schedule or check in during workdays but feel like you have lost interest, it could be a sign that things have changed. You don't argue anymore.

How do you know if you lost love for someone? ›

An track record of unhealthy communication, like unwillingness to discuss your concerns, is one of the signs you can look for that might indicate that you no longer love your partner. If you dread conversations with your partner and feel irritated by everything they say, it could also signify a change in feelings.

How to find a lost connection? ›

Enlist the help of your friends and family

The key to finding your missed connection is spreading the word. Start with your immediate friends and family. Inform them of your search, and even if they think you are crazy.

How do I get into my missed calls? ›

See your call history
  1. Open your device's Phone app .
  2. Tap Recents .
  3. You'll see one or more of these icons next to each call in your list: Missed calls (incoming) Calls you answered (incoming) Calls you made (outgoing)


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