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. 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.
And a pair of handcuffs. I'm a handsome guy, 40, 5 feet 11 inches, nice eyes, beard, a little burly, work out times per week, and I clean up real nice, as they say. Send a photo, I'll send you mine. Terence's spanking offer might have narrowed the field, but then again, the field is always narrow for men who are seeking women, and even ads that aren't seeking anything exotic tend not to get a lot of replies. In the personals, it's women who run the show. Terence received a whopping total of nine responses.
Of those, eight were spam. These were identifiable by their extremely generic nature, typically something like, "Hey I liked your ad. I'm on Yahoo Messenger right now! Send me a message at HotGirl! But one smelled like it might be human: Cautiously optimistic, Terence sent a response, including a picture.
The blonde replied, "Thanks for the pic Already realizing odds were against him, Terence threw in the towel, retorting, "Sorry, honey, that's as young as I get. When asked why he didn't work particularly hard to continue the established contact, by, say, inviting the blonde out for coffee, Terence gripes, "I'm fucking sick of 'coffee.
The only thing I'd meet up for is if she wants to take her clothes off today. The hard lesson most men learn on Craigslist: Because they outnumber women by about 20 to 1 on Casual Encounters, men aren't something to be desired.
Very youthful, very curvy year-old in Santa Monica seeks very youthful, preferably young, attractive baby-faced man for casual encounters hopefully plural! By the way, replies without pics will not be considered.
On Craigslist, women can be this flat-out demanding and not be dismissed as bitches but get plenty of play. 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..