Is Facebook Marketplace the new place to find a date? 


Move over Tinder.

While I’ve been in a long-term relationship and out of the dating game for a few years now, a friend recently came to me adamant that Facebook Marketplace was the new place for a modern meet-cute. After a bit of friendly back and forth negotiating a time and place to pick up a pink coffee table that Mary* had sourced from a guy on Marketplace, she decided to put herself out there and ask the seller out for a drink.

“When I first went to look at the table and I saw what he was wearing and the interior of his house, I thought he was really cute and had really good style,” Mary says. “It matched the table and it matched my vibe, and I thought, ‘Fuck it, what have I got to lose?’”.

Interested to hear how others navigate the world? Head to our Life section.

A day or two after meeting him, she typed a casual message which read something along the lines of: “Thanks so much for the table, Jacob!* If you’re around one night and want to go for a drink, it’s my shout to make up for the messing around.” While the offer was politely rejected (it turns out her crush was already seeing someone), she made some compelling points about why the unconventional method could work to your advantage.

A traditional meet-cute pre-pandemic would’ve been a rom-com style chance encounter with an attractive stranger. You reach for the same coffee order in your local cafe or bump into each other in a sweaty crowded nightclub. But thanks to ongoing lockdowns where social distancing protocols have slashed your opportunities to find the love of your life IRL, maybe it’s not the worst way to meet someone new?

No need for awkward one-liners

Unlike traditional dating apps like Tinder or Hinge, there are no awkward starts to the conversation or weird one-liners. You’ll be reaching out to discuss the item in question, so all the hard work is done for you. No need to spend hours conjuring up a witty opening message and you don’t have to endure any pick-up lines that’ll give you ‘the ick‘. As Mary says, “the product saves you in every situation”.

You’ll also get a sense of their personality, style, and probably their interests too, based on whatever they are selling. Plus, if you’re buying something they’ve owned and loved – whether it’s furniture, clothes, books, electronics, or any of the other more suspect items people list online – it’s likely you have something in common already. Think of it as a compatibility test.

You have a viable reason to get their number

Perhaps one of the most convenient aspects is that you’ll get their number without having to go out on a limb as if it was a stranger in a bar – and without the fear of being rejected too. Once you’ve agreed to the purchase and locked in a time and place to do the exchange, it’s only natural to exchange numbers so you can communicate in the lead-up, or to give them a call on the day.

You can meet them IRL

Sure, some Marketplace gems might be better off being sent in the mail. But if you’re local to them and it’s a big-ticket item that calls for expensive shipping, you’ll be meeting up to collect it. Any catfish can be quickly weeded out because you’ll be meeting them in person considerably earlier than you would if you were chatting on a dating app. You can get a far better read on someone and your possible chemistry in person too.

A lot of us know the disappointment of being lead on by someone we’re ‘talking to’ online that never eventuates into a real-life date, despite how good your virtual banter may be. “It is hard to meet people [from dating apps], you talk to people for a while and things fade off,” Mary adds. “I feel like on Tinder, you’re talking to people to get to know them and get their number, to go to their house and meet up. But this way, you’re already halfway there.”

If it doesn’t work out, you still got what you came for

Despite the rejection, Mary says she would give Facebook Marketplace dating another go without hesitation, and she thinks other people should too. “I have been telling people about it and they all laugh, but then they kind of consider it after I explain why,” she says. “I think I was a bit bored after lockdown, hadn’t met anyone in a while and I just like doing things a little bit differently.”

Mary also confirms people are “sick of Tinder and Hinge”, and even though some have had plenty of success on the apps, there’s still a lingering shame and stigma around the optics of dating someone you met online. I have friends who found their lovely, long-term partners from a night of swiping, yet they continue to brush off questions about how they met each other.

But it’s 2021 and we’ve come a long way from asking people for their age, sex and location in anonymous chatrooms. People have always gone to outlandish (and sometimes embarrassing) lengths to find love with the help of technology. VCR tapes in the early ’90s were billed as “the future of dating” and some single people have taken to placing personal dating ads once again. Picking up via Facebook Marketplace might be no different.

Let’s embrace the internet’s ability to connect us, no matter how cringe it might feel. My boyfriend and I met in person, but nothing would’ve happened if he wasn’t bold enough to ask for my Instagram and slide into my DMs. I might have rolled my eyes at the time, but here we are years later.

“I was dating someone for five years and after we broke up, I was so afraid of dating,” Mary says. “But now dating is fun. I just like to think ‘Why not?’ and put myself out there. I’ve still got my cute table and a funny story to tell along with it.”

For tips on how to date successfully during a pandemic, try this.

*Names have been changed

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