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. 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. You will have your own limits when it comes to how connected you want to be. The following resources might help you define your ideal relationship while clearly conveying your wishes to others.
They focus on non-monogamies which may not suit you but still contain useful advice about negotiating boundaries and clear communication. Exhibitionism for the shy. You may want to visit chat forums, blogs, websites and groups with like-minded people. One of the ways no-strings relationships are presented to women be they bi, straight or lesbian is they are inherently dangerous. Stern warnings are given that a one night stand could easily end in an STI or being harmed by your partner.
When you meet someone be very clear what you would like to do, where your boundaries are and what is not ok. The resources listed above can help with this and reduce misunderstandings over what you want or who you will be intimate with. Not every encounter has to end in sex and all involved can change their mind at any time. If you are having sex with multiple partners it makes sense to think about safer sex and use condoms and dams even if you are using other forms of contraception.
If you drink or use drugs consider how this might impact on your decision-making. While you may completely be into having a short term relationship it can still be painful if things end.
Having friends or family around who can support you is important although is not possible for everyone. Follow her on Twitter drpetra. Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation..
When you meet someone be very clear what you would like to do, where your boundaries are and what is not ok. The resources listed above can help with this and reduce misunderstandings over what you want or who you will be intimate with. Not every encounter has to end in sex and all involved can change their mind at any time.
If you are having sex with multiple partners it makes sense to think about safer sex and use condoms and dams even if you are using other forms of contraception.
If you drink or use drugs consider how this might impact on your decision-making. While you may completely be into having a short term relationship it can still be painful if things end. Having friends or family around who can support you is important although is not possible for everyone.
Follow her on Twitter drpetra. Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Tuesday 26 June Is it easier said than done?
Some options are listed below but you may be able to imagine more. How do you create a relationship that you want? They focus on non-monogamies which may not suit you but still contain useful advice about negotiating boundaries and clear communication The Ethical Slut Opening Up Rewriting the Rules Exhibitionism for the shy You may want to visit chat forums, blogs, websites and groups with like-minded people. Email your sex and relationships queries to: Read more from Women.
Must be solvent," are also commonplace. It's not long before I receive a "virtual kiss". This is a way of paying someone a compliment without typing out the words.
It's the cyber equivalent of a wolf whistle. I'm surprised and unsettled by the forward tone of some of the material. One woman sends me a message heavily laden with sexual innuendo and I come to regard her as the mistress of the single entendre.
Determined to avoid the connotations, I reply: Another woman's first contact with me included a plan for a day out together, including visits to art galleries, a stroll round a park and then "a few hours under the duvet". I didn't even know her name. I'm later propositioned by someone who tells me she has an hourglass figure. Her photograph reveals that the hour has stretched to 90 minutes.
I'm already starting to feel like I've had enough of this experiment. But if I'm going to find out what really makes these women tick, I need to leave the safety of the virtual world and see them for myself. I arrange to meet a year-old mother of two who misses "romance and flirting", in a cafe in two days' time.
She has declined to tell me her name, so I have to think of her as her web sobriquet. This is how I find myself waiting for "Sophia Loren". She seems rather on edge and sends me a text message at the time we're due to meet asking why I'm using the website. I reply, telling her to come over and ask me face to face. She turns up, a blonde with lipstick on her teeth.
She looks furtively around and asks me if I'm nervous. I say that if she stops twitching, I'll calm down. There is tension in the air like North and South Korea coming together to hammer out a treaty. Suddenly the realisation of how odd it is to meet a stranger with the express intention of having an affair dawns on me.
Romeo and Juliet it is not. It's more like Alan Sugar interviewing an apprentice. But she is an old hand at this type of encounter and tells me she's met many men through the site, and that I was probably the only one who hadn't lied about my age. After discussing how mundane marriages become and avoiding questions about my personal life, it's clear we're past our sell-by date after ten minutes, never mind ten years.
There is zero chemistry. She doesn't want to discuss her husband, and I feel uneasy talking to her. Despite this, she still seems keen to flirt with me. In the end, we agree to part and she wishes me luck and assures me I'll find the perfect paramour. So much for raging passion. This was like having a meeting with a new accountant with a helping of self-disgust thrown in.
Later on I'm perplexed when she sends me two flirty text messages. Reading between the lines, I suspect she wants to meet again. Sadly, I feel I have got all I want out of our brief relationship - two cups of coffee and a short conversation - and it's time to move on and find someone new. I feel sorry for her husband, presumably unaware that the mother of his children is pursuing cheap thrills with strangers.
By now, I have been contacted by scores of women, so I arrange dates with the ones who are prepared to meet me in the next few days.
Jane is far more easy-going. Blonde, slim and relaxed, she has already told me by email that she's been married for ten years, has young children, time on her hands and wants to add a frisson of excitement to her life.
We meet at a restaurant in central London, and I am waiting at the table when she arrives. I stand up and we kiss on the cheek. She tells me without blinking that she has had one affair with a family friend and, although it didn't end badly, her appetite for adultery remains undimmed. We spend an afternoon over lunch with a bottle of wine, and it's clear she is a relatively sophisticated woman.
Though she declines to tell me what she does, she is evidently well informed and intelligent. At the end of our lunch, she tells me she'd like to see me again. I say I have to go, and she tells me she's sorry we have to leave it there. She then fixes me with a gaze and says she wishes we could go elsewhere. I find myself thinking that if we did go to a hotel, if we undressed and went to bed, she would still return to her husband and children and the life she seems to find so unsatisfactory.
How bleak and depressing. That night I'm back in front of the computer looking for my next date. So many women are eager to tell me they're "stuck in a rut" or "want someone to make them feel alive again".
I find it amazing how many of them are willing to meet me after exchanging only a few messages. I could be a serial killer and they would be none the wiser.
Five married women send their mobile phone numbers to me without me even asking, disregarding the dangers. All I would have to do is ring at the wrong time to cause marital pandemonium. A few offer little by way of enticement: It is striking that most of these woman have no interest in my domestic situation.
They ignore the existence of my fictitious wife. They don't care that they are helping me cheat on her. In fact, they're encouraging it. So much for the sisterhood. Only one profile I came across shows any concern. In it she cautions: It is a stab at morality, but it rings hollow, given that the whole point of what she's doing is deciding whether to meet a married man and cheat on her husband with him.
A few of my potential dalliances are cut short. Some days later, I've arranged to have another secret assignation, this time in a pub. Sue is keen to meet, and one early evening, this dark-haired, buxom year-old takes the opportunity to go behind her husband's back and meet a strange man. Sue, whose internet photograph was probably taken a decade ago, sits simpering across the table. She gulps her wine down within minutes of me buying it, and looks up expectantly.
She talks about her career as a scientist in a hospital and then tells me she loves her husband of nine years, doesn't want to leave him, but wants me to add some sparkle to her life. Like the other dates I've had, she is reluctant to discuss her personal circumstances. We do not dwell on the fact she is married.
At one point, we're approached by a couple who ask politely whether they can sit on the two vacant seats at our table. I consider this for a moment, and realise it will close down the already faltering meeting. They go off miffed and Sue looks at me as though I'm some sort of monster.
For all the glossy, sexy chat and out-of-date pictures posted online, this is the rather tawdry, mundane reality of these adulterous assignations. A pub on a wet afternoon and two people who have little to talk about except whether or not they are going to have a meaningless fling. She looks as if she might burst into tears but then surprisingly she bites back: Why are you doing that?
Stumped for a moment, I desperately search for a reason why I would cheat on my fictional sweet young wife before suggesting that we have grown apart and no longer communicate properly or sleep together. This seems to satisfy her, and we chat for another 20 minutes. It's general chit-chat and all fairly inconsequential, which I find rather surreal given the reason we have agreed to meet. Then I tell her I've arranged to see a friend and had better go.
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