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.
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.
Clarissa's ad, for example, got more than responses. The sexually adventurous, curly-haired brunette isn't averse to casual hookups. The responses started coming in immediately. Then I got more and more replies, and had fun responding, and considered meeting someone. But then I got bored, and the only one that was really interesting has been reticent. Her initial ardor cooled, and in the end, Clarissa didn't meet up with even one of her potential sack mates.
The rising fears that dampened her heat ran the gamut: Jeopardizing my health and my business. Getting emotionally hurt by some thoughtless, shallow swinger with herpes who makes some 'they're not exactly perky' comment about my breasts while expecting me to agree and fuck him anyway.
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.