Many people use Craigslist to find roommates, cheap furniture, used cars or part-time jobs. But there's another function: I decided to dive into Craigslist's "Casual Encounters" — a section made for no-strings hookups — to see if any of what I assumed about that virtual place was true. Is it populated entirely by perverted sexual deviants, serial killers, prostitutes and scammers as rumors insist? Or can two regular people really make the connection that the section's name suggests?
I should admit that I had no intention to actually hook up with someone, should the opportunity arise, if for no other reason than it would be inappropriate and manipulative to an unwitting partner to do so and write about it. But it's not a stretch to say that even if you abstain from the goal, spending a week on Casual Encounters can teach you a lot about human beings and how the web has changed how we pursue one of our most essential and important desires.
It goes without saying that the content of this article is not intended for children or those made uncomfortable by such topics. But if you're interested, read on for the story of my seven days on Craigslist's Casual Encounters — my failures, near misses, discoveries, insights and successes.
Following that, I interviewed two women to learn how they used the site successfully for their own fulfillment. Each day I tried a different approach to see what would be most effective, though I never lied or posted fake photographs.
One day my message was intended to be sweet and normal; I suggested starting with drinks and fun conversation to see if we had chemistry, then going back to my place to cuddle on the couch with a movie and see where that led. Another day, I described it as a rebound. In yet another, I explicitly detailed sexual activities and used very aggressive language.
Ultimately, only the "sweet and normal" was successful, even though very few posts by women had that same tone more on that later. I received about a half-dozen responses each day. Most were scams, some were men, some were prostitutes, and just one was legit. All the responses I got from real people on my first day weren't from women — they were from men. I made it very clear in my post that I was only interested in women, but a large number of men chose to ignore that.
They all offered oral sex. I responded to them politely, saying, "Just interested in women, but thanks for the offer! Have a good one. I began to suspect that no women actually used the site. The stereotype is that women are interested in relationships, and that only men would be interested in totally casual sex, right? We know that's not true, though. In fact, I was inspired to write this article when a friend told me many of her female friends had owned up to using it.
Over the next couple of days, I actually received a lot of posts from women. Or at least, they said they were women. To be honest, I doubted the veracity of the claims.
It didn't take long to realize that almost all the replies I received were scams. The situation is so severe on Craigslist Casual Encounters that posts by real women who are actually seeking hook-ups are often flagged for removal at the slightest cause for suspicion.
The most common scams are "safe dating" websites. An alleged woman will write a man saying she's interested, but that because of the Craigslist-based serial killers and rapists in the news, she needs some extra assurance that it's safe. If you follow the link she provides, the website asks you for your credit card number — y'know, so it can do a background check to make sure you're not a criminal. One individual tried to get me to buy him or her virtual currency in online games like MapleStory before agreeing to hand over contact information.
Yeah, right — moving on! What little luck I'd had so far. The week was half over and I hadn't had a single bite. I decided I would have to take the initiative, so in addition to posting my own ads, I started responding to every ad from any woman who seemed at all interesting.
I cast a wide net in my searches, looking up posts by straight or bisexual women between the ages of 18 and 35 who lived anywhere in Chicagoland — a large metropolitan area that's home to close to five million females. Most of the women wanted something very specific they couldn't find in their normal lives: Someone to help play out a particular fantasy, someone vastly older than them or someone of another race.
Very few of the women who were advertising seemed to be looking for anything I would consider a "normal encounter. I typically wrote two or three paragraph replies and matched the tone of their own messages, then attached a couple of tasteful photos of myself. I didn't get a single reply from an actual prospect this way. It turned out that most of the ads were fakes from scammers, and quite a few fell into another category all together.
Prostitution is what made Craigslist controversial. There's technically another section for that — "Adult Services," formerly "Erotic Services" — but that's not the only place you'll find practitioners of the world's oldest profession.
The prostitutes of Craigslist speak in code, but it's not a difficult one to learn. They advertise "French lessons" — an odd thing to advertise under "Casual Encounters," don't you think? Well, it's obviously a euphemism for something else. Many of the ads that weren't from scammers were from prostitutes. The ads are so obvious that it's surprising the euphemisms are effective in fending off law enforcement. Then again, maybe they are law enforcement.
Amidst all those failures, I had one near-success. A woman wrote in response to my sweet "cuddling first" ad saying she was in town for only a couple of months, and that she was frustrated she couldn't find a relationship. When she sent her pictures, she looked plain but attractive. This is the bell curve many Casual Encounters advertisers travel: If you're wondering why that sexy chick suddenly quit answering your e-mails, this sort of rational thought process is probably the reason.
Gay men are always on the vanguard of any of society's sexual shifts, for good or ill, from HIV to Grindr, and Josh sees Craigslist as antiquated. He hooked up online as recently as last week, but not via Craigslist. He checks the site from time to time, but, "In reality, I haven't had sex through Craigslist for years and years and years. With his swimmer's body, unblemished, caramel-colored skin and engaging, lighthearted, party-party personality, this resident of an Elle Decor —worthy West Hollywood apartment is clearly a desirable specimen.
Josh is in a committed relationship, but his partner has a job that forces him to travel out of town frequently; even when his boyfriend is home, his sex drive simply doesn't match Josh's. So Josh looks online for casual hookups often, and has no trouble finding them. However, he's largely left Craigslist behind. Josh prefers a number of other sites to the creaky Craigslist, such as Adam4Adam, BarebackRT with its high proportion of users who, like himself, are HIV-positive or his favorite, Manhunt.
Manhunt works because its interface has something that Craigslist has stubbornly refused to add: Twenty pictures, 20 guys.
You decide on two to three options per page, and you click. Josh adds that no site has eliminated the flake factor, which is ubiquitous in the online world. The other big problem: Not saying that fat people can't have sex, but it's the lying that got me. So I said, 'I'm sorry, I gotta go, it's not going to work. I don't want to spend money in a bar. I don't want to make myself cute. I don't want small talk, trying to be charming and seductive. It's a lot more effort.
On a website, you go straight to the point. I'm looking for someone with no strings attached, one and done. I cannot get involved, because I'm in a relationship. The only thing I want is to have sex. One benefit of the rise in online sex: Josh concludes that it's made the West Hollywood bar scene a lot more enjoyable.
This idea of going to a bar for sex, very few people do that. Even if you're horny as hell. I love all races and genders butch fem, trans or intersex is all good , and I like you pretty, damn good-looking, or super sexy and comfortable in your own skin or hair, or shoes, or undies No men, and no male-and-female couples.
If you ignore this clause, I will do mean things with your e-mail address. I look forward to meeting! Grace, 5 feet 9 and pounds, is a gorgeous girl, so if anyone is going to be doing the turning down, it's her. Still, despite her warnings, a number of men replied to Grace's ad, maybe because they were enticed by the shots she included from her occasional modeling jobs, or maybe because they thought to themselves, "Sure, she's seeking a woman, but wait till she sees this JPEG of my fabulous schlong!
After wading through a small stack of e-mails and meeting up with one woman whom she didn't find attractive, Grace moved her ad from Casual Encounters to Women Seeking Women, Craigslist's more traditional dating section.
It was only then that she became the only one of our test subjects to lay some rubber on the road. After a few IMs and text messages, Grace invited one woman to her apartment to meet in person, and soon after found her long legs tangled in a new friend's hair.
She's gorgeous and sweet. Had a good connection and she spent the night. We didn't sleep much. Things only became unclear afterward, when the woman wanted to hit it again and Grace demurred. If it's a onetime thing, that's fine, but I don't connect emotionally if I have sex right away.
Even though she's hot, she's pretty, and she's cute, I was just a little bit disconnected. So I think I'd rather see her again as more than just a booty call and make sure I knew how I was feeling about it. Clearly the antithesis of the "U-Haul lesbian," Grace has another potential date from Casual Encounters still pending. You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter s - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The anonymity the online world offers is two-faced. Its beautiful face is the one that lets you shed your inhibitions and finally proclaim to the world that your ultimate fulfillment would consist of being tied up with rubber hoses while wearing pink satin panties. On the ugly side, anonymity emboldens cyberbullies, angry at you, perhaps because you have dared to voice their own repressed desires right out loud.
The flake factor is overwhelming. There are the dreaded "endless e-mails," the looky-loos, the photo collectors and the perverts — a label that typically describes anyone not into the same things that you are. Craigslist may seem to magically put scores of potential fuck buddies at your fingertips, but it doesn't magically get you over your self-esteem issues, your time crunch, your weight problem, your fear of STDs or those pesky ethics.
In reality, the chasm between the moment when, as you sit comfortably in front of your computer, your idle thoughts stray to "Boy, some head would sure be nice right about now" and actually procuring said head is always far vaster and more difficult to traverse than we like to imagine.
Do people get laid through Craigslist? But after wading through the dregs, it quickly becomes obvious that your odds are scarcely better there than they are anywhere else. Or sign in with a social account:. The Experiment I began with a listing announcing myself to the women of my city. We're using cookies to improve your experience. U need to have a place to host. Josh is in a committed relationship, but his partner has a job that forces him to travel out of town frequently; even when his boyfriend is home, his sex drive simply doesn't match Josh's. DO NOT ask if an offer you received is a scam. Its beautiful face is the one that lets you shed your inhibitions and finally proclaim to the world that your ultimate fulfillment would consist of being tied up with rubber hoses while wearing pink satin panties.
Also, he might want to edit the tidbit about it taking " days for vagina to return to original state. Don't be a chicken. I have rented a residence in North Vegas, off Craig street. If interested please email me for a appointment.
I am very willing to please you. Additionally, it's been indicated that our cross-dresser lives in North Vegas. And while everyone knows what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, few are familiar with the North Vegas slogan, which is: What happens in North Vegas will haunt your dreams forever. For someone who's not into female impersonators, there is so much wrong here.
But even if that is your cup of tea, you've got to be taken aback by the doll photo. That's some crazy serial-killer stuff right there. Combine that with the freaky flowers-and-curls wig and any sensible person answering this listing would have to be at least a little worried about ending up in a freezer. You provide the cute and cuddly.
Not looking for a one-night thing. I want all of the winter or when one of us finds someone better, whichever comes first. I won't have sex with you. Cuddles is probably in the wrong section, because he's looking for more than a one-time thing and he's ardent in his declaration that there will be no sex.
We can also assume that he doesn't have adequate heat in his home, as his winter-term relationship seems to involve you becoming his human space heater. You've got a picture of kittens, you've asserted that you're a year-old virgin and the best descriptions you can come up with for yourself is that you have a "high metabolism? Cuddles, but you should consider eHarmony. If there's no ass play or misguided fantasy involved, Craigslist Casual Encounters has no use for you. Women who want to be manhandled by a lover with a questionable sense of style.
Vanilla women is out of the question and I only do KINK women that have a drive and a need to be controlled and in a submissive relationship. I am DOM in a good way, I am not a beater, yell or threaten - any male can to that, we call them ass holes.
A true DOM knows how to control by asking once and can give you a look that will melt you in one second. This guy likes to be in control.
He knows what he wants and he's confident in his ability to melt flavors other than vanilla with a look that has been clocked at one second. Unfortunately, honing this incredible melting stare power has kept him from having time to get to the mall.
Our best estimates track this tie to the Structure's spring collection. In the first line where he reveals that it's a recent picture of him. He may not be what we call "ass holes," but his pose and choice of neck wear are clearly giving off a heavy vibe of dork. And, it's not the sweet helpless sort of dork either. We're guessing that the annoying repeated capping of "DOM" is an indication our friend is desperate to act out a control fantasy that has something to do with being passed over for a manager position at the grocery store where he's a "professional" cashier.
We don't see why a listing that gives off the same bitter vibe he does in person would make his chances any better. I'm offering ot take you on a cruise to Hawaii expenses paid for with me that is round trip to LA. It just doesn't happen. So despite all the name calling, feelings of alienation and social discrimination, sometimes it is really, really awesome to be gay, like when you get extended a two-week Hawaiian vacation and cruise for a few hook-ups.
Also, sometimes it's not that awesome to be straight, broke and desperately in need of a vacation. Honestly, the only thing wrong with this listing is that it evokes a great deal of envy amongst heterosexual males. The curious straight guy who happens upon this inquiry will inevitably ask themselves why they've been cursed with an attraction to the opposite sex when the best you can hope for in the women-for-men listings are year-old single mothers looking to host dudes who enjoy big-bodied females at their mobile home.
The only way this goes wrong is if he's full of shit and the cruise turns out to be a trip around the bay on his Uncle Remus' fishing boat. You could really get hurt if you resist. But pushing past that fear, by passing through it, lite rally the joy that lies on the other side of convention If you're an atheist, you will get to know God experientially, from being fucked in the ass.
Butt sex means a lot to this guy. Not many listings offer a spiritual experience, but the author of this one is doing just that. Photos of his torso display a muscular build, because no one wants to be reamed to a point where they "know God experientially" by someone who doesn't have a membership at Crunch.
When the Archbishop of Ass-Nailing completely disregarded the fact that this is called Casual Encounters. The feeling you get after reading the listing is that an encounter with this guy is going to be anything but casual. In fact, it doesn't seem like a stretch to think his idea of foreplay includes some chanting and the sacrifice of a goat. However, it's good our anal missionary here is looking to convert nonbelievers using Craigslist. Taking his divine message door to door like a Mormon would be pretty creepy and probably illegal in most states.
Really just a matter of whichever one gives out first. Some famous people are radically different from the images we hold dear in our hearts. We're here to catch you up on all the interesting stuff you should know. We like to think we're getting pretty good at spotting when a politician is lying to us Sometimes a video game's attempt to tackle the more delicate issues just plain falls short.
Don't make me do this again. Don't have an account? Please enter a Username. I agree to the Terms of Service. Add me to the weekly newsletter. Add me to the daily newsletter. Link Existing Cracked Account. Then again, maybe they are law enforcement. Amidst all those failures, I had one near-success. A woman wrote in response to my sweet "cuddling first" ad saying she was in town for only a couple of months, and that she was frustrated she couldn't find a relationship.
When she sent her pictures, she looked plain but attractive. We exchanged a couple of e-mails over the course of two hours, tossing back and forth lists of interests and the like. She made it clear that she wanted to meet up, and while she talked about starting slow, it was clear that it would indeed be a casual encounter. But when I suggested a time to meet — the last message from me before I would reveal myself and back out — there was no reply. At least, not yet. The next day, she e-mailed me saying she was deeply apologetic and that she'd fallen asleep.
She said she'd like to meet up sometime. So yes, there are women on Craigslist. Well, at least one! You've probably guessed by now that the experiences for heterosexual men and women on Craigslist's casual encounters are quite different. I observed that for every ad a woman posts, there are at least 20 from men. If nothing else, that imbalance ought to alter the experience.
To get the female perspective, I did two things: I posted a fake ad as a woman to see what kinds of responses I would get, and I interviewed two women who have had success hooking up on casual encounters in the past. As for potential suitors, I asked only that they supply a photo and "be attractive and not creepy. There was a five minute delay before my ad appeared, then I started receiving about one response per minute.
Most of them were careful to say "I don't do this often. Some sent pictures of themselves naked along with the word "Hi. There were a lot of expressions of sympathy over my fake breakup. I was hearing from men of all types, and it seemed I had my pick of the litter. After about thirty minutes, though, my post was flagged for removal. I thought I'd made it look legit, but as we learned earlier, folks have good reason to be hawkish about scammers. After the end of my test run with Craigslist casual encounters, I decided to get more insight into the female experience with the site by interviewing two women who said they had successes meeting up with men on Casual Encounters.
Their problem was the opposite of mine. They had too many options to pick from, but they both dealt with the numerous choices in the same way. Both women ultimately responded to men who they felt put effort into writing long, personal messages as opposed to quick notes. Multiple paragraphs of insightful and relatable prose won out — but only after the initial test of physical appearance. Both said they immediately eliminated men who opened with pictures of genitalia — a very common practice.
However, looks were important. One of the women I interviewed said she once had a crush on a client at her job, but couldn't make a move without compromising her professionalism. However, she was looking through Casual Encounters and saw an ad from a man, and she recognized his writing style — it was her old client! She sent him a message to see if it was him, asking a question only he would be able to answer.
He proved his identity and they ended up hooking up. One of the women said she would go to Casual Encounters when she was looking for a very specific sexual experience — something you can't always count on from a one night stand that starts at a club or bar.
The other said her reasons could be summed up as "curiosity, boredom, and convenience. The trick is to keep an open mind and not have any real expectations. At the very least, it's mildly entertaining. After all this exploration, I'll say that Craigslist casual encounters is a place where people go to find very specific things from each other that they might not be able to conveniently locate in the real world.
Some of those things are very alternative. It's a last, best hope for some people who are looking to make a personal connection, but it's full of spam, unwanted attention, crime, and, well You might not find what you're looking for, but you're sure to find something interesting regardless.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto , nights , geotrac. Samuel Axon is a digital content producer in New York City. He has worked as an editor at Engadget, Mashable and the Joystiq network, and currently leads content strategy as Editorial Director at Sprout Social.
We're using cookies to improve your experience. Click Here to find out more. Entertainment Like Follow Follow. The Experiment I began with a listing announcing myself to the women of my city.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree All the responses I got from real people on my first day weren't from women — they were from men. But where were they? I was only getting messages from gay or bisexual men! An Army of Scammers Over the next couple of days, I actually received a lot of posts from women. Taking Initiative What little luck I'd had so far. The Other Perspective, Part 1: