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. Infidelity used to be one of the cut and dry scenarios that required an immediate break up. I am not going to get into whether what he did constituted cheating — or whether I think he has probably already cheated I do. Really think about that.
Ok so he is not looking at dirty magazines or porn…he is looking for someone to hook up with…. Talk to him and see what he says but I would suggest marriage counseling as well.
I would have a hard time trusting my husband after finding out about something like that. SixtyFour October 31, , I think there are a lot of people out there who look at these websites the same way they look at porn and have no intention of meeting anyone from it.
But the husband should talk to his wife about this. Maybe he wants a more exciting sex life. Trolling the internet for kicks is not the solution and he should be ashamed of keeping this a secret and not opening up to his wife when he has issues. This in itself could constitute cheating depending on what the LW and her husband both agree to in their relationship.
He may, but talk to him first. FireStar October 31, , What is wrong with the truth, LW? What is wrong saying that my husband was acting shady and hiding his phone and when I checked I found he had been considering casual sex with strangers?
Why hide from what it is and instead say he is entitled to just look? There is appropriate behaviour and inappropriate behaviour. But you already know that. Think of it like a sickness.
Sure you could ignore it and pretend everything is fine on the surface but eventually it will grow and do damage. It makes you responsible in your own relationship and life. You get to have a voice in any behaviour that has the potential to destroy your marriage or your family. Lianne October 31, , The fact that you even felt something was off — that your GUT told you to look at his history! I cannot stress this enough:. Could you possibly be more alarmist? Maybe she should simply talk to her husband about this.
There is absolutely no proof whatsoever that he is meeting up with anybody from craigslist. And many men DO view it almost as a form of porn. Look, obviously, this needs to be discussed, but the last thing this LW needs is everybody pouring fuel onto the fire when in the reality it very damn well be nothing but smoke. And once again, it is very clear that far too many of you know precious little of male sexuality. Many of you seem to view men in the most simplistic of terms sexually.
Amanda October 31, , That said, I agree with you bittergaymark. Lucy November 1, , 6: I agree with you to a point. They can be hilarious, or disturbing, or in the best of all worlds, both. She senses her husband is being deceitful. She needs to discuss it with him in a non-confrontational way and find out what is up. SweetPeaG October 31, , I am growing so weary of seeing these types of questions.
Why do people have to be such dicks to the people they choose with their own free will! What can we do to get back on track with that? Even when it is HARD to do the right thing, this is the person you agreed to respect and love for the rest of your days. Choose right over easy.
I am not saying this is doomed. People can work through some incredibly difficult things. It will just destroy you from the inside out. And you owe it to your kids if not yourself to not be a broken person. People do say and do those kind of things.
Why do so many new mothers turn completely off their sexuality? And then why do so many —when having done so — flip out that their husband then jacks off to porn? What the fuck do you want him to do? Hack off his balls? Tell me, please tell me because I wanna know. Meanwhile, there is ZERO evidence that he is even emailing any of these people on the side, much less banging them.
And everybody is ready to crucify this guy. Try to figure out the situation. I would have thought the LW would include that information if her husband had tried to have this discussion with her. It would have been pretty relevant. But, why do new moms turn off their sexuality? You may or may not have heard the same? So, yes, there might be a lull in the sex.
While her vagina is healing up from an episotimy and she has an infant waking her up five times a night? The husband might help matters by helping with the baby as much as he can. Do things to help his wife get in the mood. Maintaining relationships is sometimes about work! And, if it was just jacking off to porn, I think the advice would have been a lot different. I would have told the LW to let it go unless it seems to be some sort of addiction. I would also tell her to work on some of the closeness and sexuality that might be waining between them.
But, secretively hiding his phone? They are ads where people set up sexual meetings.! I guess I did fill in a lot of blanks here. My hunch is that there is something else going on. Or just thought that she would. God knows the world is filled with women RAILING about the evils of porn and how its emotional cheating and all sorts of other assorted b.
Seriously, the baby is ONLY three months old. Are you even supposed to be having sex again at that point? ALL the more reason he may be jerking off to Craigslist and not even bothering to tell her about it… Seriously. I think its unreasonable for you to expect a woman who is only three months post-partum to have turned back on her sexuality. Frankly, I agree with you that most commenters seem a little quick to write the guy off as a cheater.
Kim October 31, , On the new mother thing, I feel I can weigh in as a new mother. Second, if you are breastfeeding, your body releases hormones that reduce your sex drive to keep you from procreating before you are ready. These two things can combine to make it not that interesting to the woman to have sex or even other forms of playtime after having a baby. And as the woman in that situation, it can be just as frustrating for us because I like being a sexual person. And having that taken away for a few months was not great for me either.
Then this combines with the fact that you are super busy, sleep deprived, and taking care of another persons needs the entire day and makes it hard to want to take care of another persons i.
Having said that, I have no problem with my husband looking at porn and entertaining himself. Also, my husband and I worked out an arrangement where we would both try to help meet eachothers needs post baby — his sexual, mine not. I make an extra effort for him and he makes an extra effort for me, and we are both happy. The first few months are mostly just trying to survive with the new baby, and it was around the 3 month mark that we were able to start carving out extra time to make sure both our needs were being met.
And really, months in the course of a long-term relationship is not a huge deal to put your needs on the backburner until things settle down. And I would expect my husband to discuss with me if his needs were not being met before overstepping any boundaries we had placed on our relationship. For us — those boundaries include porn being okay, but contacting actual human beings as not okay. Oh — and on the actual letter, the only thing that really bothers me is that he was being secretive about it.
I do know some women are against their spouse looking at porn, and if that was the boundary they agreed upon, he should refrain from looking at it. SixtyFour October 31, , 1: Uh, because they just pushed a human being out of them, forgive them for not being up for putting a penis back inside them every damn day.
Becuase they gained weight during pregancy and are having trouble seeing themselves as attractive anymore. He should have communicated his frustrations to her. BecBoo84 November 1, , Wish I could like this x BGM, take a minute to think about the fact that for however long a mother breastfeeds, she has to get up with the baby every single time it wakes up during the night.
And during those first three months, babies wake up a lot at night to eat, typically every 3ish hours or less , and nursing can taken anywhere from 30 minutes and longer for a lot of moms. Not because he was looking to hook up or unhappy with me but because he was amazed at what was on there he said it was free porn. Of course the difference is he would tell me about the stuff he saw and would actually show some of it to me. I think the LW should definitely ask her husband about it.
It may just be easy access to some free porn. The fact that they have two very small children may also account for some of his actions. SarahKat October 31, , Your husband is looking at them to either troll for strange or get off on thinking about trolling for strange. Either way, red red red flaggy. Its a place where you find people to sleep with.
Its a train station to sexy time. Uh, you can totally use it as porn though. Sadly, they are FEW and far between and this actually would account for scrolling through pages and pages of them… Many ads — usually the MEH ones are reposted ad nauseum… so it can take one a while to find a good one…. CatsMeow October 31, , I pretty much have only browsed the m4m casual encounters.
And sure, I can see how browsing those is porn-like. But the straight ones are SOOO boring. In fact, I just looked at the w4m just now! Sure he can use craigslist to fantasize…. That is literally the only reason he would choose that over actual porn. There is real porn of all shapes and sizes he could be looking at instead. One porn two porn red porn blue porn. On Craigslist the last thing I wanna see is pictures… Why?
Hell, even most of those on there that do email people have no real intention of ever really hooking up. Write Dan Savage and see what he has to say. People do meet there and do have illicit affair… But truthfully? Those people are the exception — rather than the rule. SarahKat October 31, , 1: Which, whether he is a craigslist flake or not, is not good for a married man to want. I just love the idea of cheating on you and look for opportunities to think about cheating on the wife of my two children more.
As long as you are just wishing you could cheat on me as opposed to actually doing it of which I have no proof that you did not then our marriage is totally fine. Troll for sex away! No such emails have been discovered, just an internet history that shows him perusing these ads. Fantasizing about hookups, and using ads to inform those fantasies, are still nothing more than daydreams.
I just think that I would not be ok with my partner needing to have the rush of actually meeting someone is he so chooses to get off. But I think we want the same thing, we want the LW to talk to her husband about it and figure out what he uses casual encounters for and why he needs that instead of actual porn.
Not to mention gaps in reading comprehension. First, there is no proof, or even an allegation made by the LW that her husband is answering ads on Craigslist. Second, nowhere do I say it is the fact that we are SO close to doing the act that is the turn on.
Hell, I never even contact anybody… Honestly, where did you even get that from. Seriously, does anybody on here know of a single women who has actually posted in the casual encounters section on craigslist? Yet alone followed through and banged some random she mets there? You can tell most of the people posting the ads on Craigslist are FLAKES just by the sheer repeats one encounters making return visits. You will often again and again see the same ad over and over and over.
Such as blowing some random, nameless, hot guy in an alley. But… in real life? Possible murder by some psychopath! Yeah, lots of things hold me back.
Possible murder by a psychopath! Never seeing his kids other than weekends! Especially since there is ZERO evidence of any damning emails. You all make lousy detectives — the lot of you — even Wendy. Everybody has sexual fantasies about other people. ElevenSeven October 31, , 6: I know three women who do this. Trixy Minx October 31, , 7: Alicia September 26, , 1: It looks so tempting so moist so good.
Now, one of two things happens. You fill up on steak and go home dreaming about that piece of cake you never got. Is that dark chocolate in the middle? You hate dark chocolate! The fantasy of what could be is the excitement.
I totally understand it. Some of the hottest things on CL are the well thought out ads. Sure, someone could post a dirty photo and their cell number saying to meet them at the seediest dirtiest motel. But the ads where someone sat down, has a brain, thought out what they want and published the words of an arousing scenario. Those are the ones that get the heart racing. GatorGirl October 31, , 1: I have to agree with BGM on this one. There is a chance that he is just using the ads for his spank bank.
Some men prefer audio, some text, some video, heck even some cartoons for their alone time. Everyone is entitled to their own preferences, even if they make no sense to other people.
I do think that the fact he is being so secretive about his phone habits is a red flag though. Going out of your way to hide your phone from your partner makes me skeptical that he is only using the ads for self gratification and may or may not be meeting up with people.
The appeal of craigslist is not that its words, is that its real people asking for real sex. Nevermind the extra added bonys stimulation of Craigslist or — God forbid!
BGM the next time you accuse women of giving other women the benefit of the doubt and always blaming the guy…. As if most women would be just thrilled to learn that their husband is innocently jacking off to ads on Craigslist. Especially when they are insanely hormonal because they just gave a baby. Gee… why ever would he simply not want her to know about this… Gee, I wonder.
Is there truly no such thing as privacy in most straight relationships? Well, wowee, no wonder so many of them FAIL! His fantasy life is his fantasy life. God knows I have mine… End of story....