Back in the day, finding a decent and genuine casual dating encounter was as easy as heading over to Craigslist Personals and choosing your perfect sounding match.
Sure, there were plenty of flaws with Craigslist Personals, but it had an almost cult following - and impressively, that was among both men and women.
So when Craigslist decided to shut down their Personals classifieds, it left a gaping hole in the casual online dating scene and left users screaming out for good quality Craigslist Personals alternatives.
In this article, we aim to bring you the best Craigslist Personals alternatives after testing out the competition, assessing their platforms and ultimately determining where you are most likely to see success.
Before we get in to the details of all the sites - here's our top 3 alternatives to craigslist personals:
Adult Friend Finder (AFF) - Best Overall Craigslist Personals Alternative For Hookups
Passion - Best For Real Meet Ups
No Strings Attached - Best For One Nighters
Best Sites Like Craigslist Personals
I've tested all of these and more - a tough job, but someone had to do it - and out of the 12 or 13 platforms I tested, those that I've listed here all had their merits. As a heterosexual male, I'd say these are all worth a punt - I'd imagine as a female, you would get even more success.
Adult Friend Finder - The Best Craigslist Personals Alternative?
Having been out of the dating game since my Craigslist Personals days and being relatively new to the idea of a dedicated site for finding casual encounters, I approached Adult Friend Finder (AFF) with a mix of curiosity and skepticism. Adult Friend Finder has it's haters, but my experience with AFF has genuinely been more rewarding than I expected.
Here's what I liked:
- Straightforward Sign-up Process: One of the first things I appreciated about AFF was its straightforward sign-up process. It didn’t take long for me to create my profile, and I appreciated that the site prompted for enough details to ensure I could match with like-minded individuals. The more you add to your profile, the better results you are going to have.
- Genuine Interactions: While I won't deny that there were a few spammers and fake profiles (I'm not sure if these are created by the company or other users), the majority of the interactions I had were genuine. I had online chats and met with real people - and had some really great offline experiences with these people. The key is to approach every conversation with an open mind and a willingness to be open and sharing yourself - but always with an element of caution for safety.
- Transparent Intentions: AFF is quite clear about its intentions. Everyone on the platform is looking for adult connections, whether it's a casual fling or something deeper. This transparency eliminates a lot of the guesswork and dancing around topics that you might find on other platforms. It feels refreshing to have candid conversations without the fear of misreading signals.
- Safety and Privacy: Despite its somewhat risqué reputation, AFF does prioritize user safety. They offer various privacy settings that allow users to control what others see. While no online platform is entirely free from risk, being cautious and using the tools provided by the site can significantly enhance your experience.
- AFF Works: Above all, it works. Yes, there is a greater number of men on the platform than women (great if your a woman) but if you are willing to show plenty of profile pics, fill out your profile as much as possible and message a little more than 'are you up for fun' then you will likely see similar results to what you would have on Craigslist Personals.
One thing I will say is that like most of these platforms, the ratio of men to women is pretty unbalanced - but it's all down to how you market yourself as to how well you do on AFF.
Adult Friend Finder might not be for everyone, but my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. It's a platform that embraces the vast spectrum of human desires, and while it's essential to navigate it with caution, it can be a rewarding space for those willing to keep an open mind. I've forged genuine connections, learned a lot about myself and others, and most importantly, had a lot of fun along the way.
Stepping into the controversial world of Ashley Madison (AM) is certainly not for everyone. As a man who has ventured into a number of dating site offerings, Ashley Maddison was a little different to what I'd experienced before and is perhaps a little more risqué than many of other Craigslist alternatives I'll be discussing. The site promises discretion for those seeking extramarital encounters, so if that's your reason for seeking a casual hookup, then Ashley Maddison could be for you.
Here's what I liked:
- Discretion and Anonymity: Ashley Madison’s primary selling point is its promise of discretion. The website offers numerous features designed to protect users' identities, such as automatic blurring of photos and tools to mask personal data. If you have a partner or just want to remain as anonymous as possible until you reach the chatting stage then Ashley Maddison is a great option for you.
- User Interface: I love the look and feel of the website itself. It's sleek and user-friendly and navigating through profiles, sending messages, and managing your account are all straightforward on both desktop and mobile versions.
- Active User Base: Given its niche market, AM boasts a surprisingly large and active user base. This means a higher chance of finding a compatible match and it has a good ratio of female to male users.
- Clear Intentions: The nature of the site means that members usually have clear intentions. There’s less beating around the bush as both parties understand the confidential and fleeting nature of the relationships they're entering.
I personally had a great time using Ashley Maddison and in my first month I managed to arrange two offline meetups. One of them didn't end up happening (but that was on me) and the other was a really good meet up, with a couple of follow up meet ups since then.
Like with any online dating app or site there is always going to be some concerns. My main one is around security. Whilst there seem to be no issues now, one of my biggest concerns with using Ashley Madison was the infamous 2015 data breach, where user data was exposed. While the company has bolstered its security measures since then, the incident has left many, including myself, concerned about data privacy.
My other main drawback of AM is the presence of fake profiles. While this is not unique to AM, I am pretty sure there are a high number of fake profiles. This sometimes leads to wasted credits and can be frustrating when seeking genuine connections.
Ashley Madison provides a platform for a specific niche of online daters. While it offers discretion and a relatively large user base, it's crucial to be aware of its associated risks, both in terms of data security and personal ethics. As with any online dating platform, it's essential to tread cautiously, be mindful of potential scams, and reflect on the implications of your actions. Overall though, I really enjoyed using it.
Passion is another site offering dating and casual encounters and is a genuine potential replacement for Craigslist personals. I tried it for one month and having originally tried the completely free membership, I hopped on to a one month paid plan.
Here's what I liked:
- Structured Profiles: Unlike the more minimalistic ads of Craigslist Personals, Passion.com offers a much more comprehensive profile structure. This gives you more of an insight in to the person you are messaging.
- Safety and Verification: One of the things I appreciated about Passion.com compared to Craigslist is its attempt at profile verification. While not foolproof, it does add a layer of confidence in knowing you're interacting with genuine people.
- Advanced Search and Matching: The platform comes with advanced search features and matchmaking algorithms, which provide a tailored experience that Craigslist's broad and scattered nature lacked. It also compares well against the likes of Ashley Maddison.
- Interactive Features: Passion.com offers various modes of interaction, including video chats. This is a far cry from the simple email relay that Craigslist Personals used to offer
- Real Encounters: I managed to arrange 3 meet ups in the one month that I used Passion. I managed to actually physically meet two of those three and we had a great time.
One thing to consider with Passion is the cost. It's not the cheapest of options and although they do have a free version, you can't do much with this. That being said, it does give you the chance to see exactly what it's like.
While Passion.com offers a modern, feature-rich platform that greatly contrasts the simplicity of Craigslist Personals, it comes with its own set of challenges. For those who appreciated the no-frills approach of Craigslist, the learning curve might be steep. However, if you're looking for a more structured online dating experience with added features, it's worth giving Passion.com a shot. Always exercise caution, be aware of potential costs, and prioritize your safety above all else.
Locanto Personals is the new Craiglist Personals - but does it really match up? After spending several months exploring and interacting on it, here's my experience of it.
Here's what I liked:
- Local Connections: True to its name, Locanto Personals does a decent job in connecting you with locals. It was refreshing to know that potential matches were within my vicinity, allowing for easier meet-ups.
- No-Frills User Experience: The platform is straightforward. It doesn't overcomplicate the online dating experience with unnecessary features.
- Free to Use: Being able to use the platform without any initial cost is a plus. It's a risk-free way to explore before committing financially.
- Varied Intentions: Not everyone is looking for long-term relationships. The platform allowed me to connect with individuals looking for friendship, casual encounters, or deeper relationships.
In terms of my experience using Locanto, it wasn't great. I met a couple of genuinely interesting people with whom I shared fantastic conversations online - but none of these materialized in to anything more.
There were instances where the profile did not match the person when we arrange a video call — either in terms of looks, intentions, or both. On a couple of occasions, I felt that the other person was not genuine, which made me exercise more caution in subsequent interactions. On top of this, Locanto does not seem to have the user pool of other platforms - and unless you are in a large city, it is unlikely going to work well for you.
Locanto Personals can be a hit or miss, much like many other dating platforms. It provides a local, straightforward dating experience, but it also requires users to be vigilant and take safety precautions. If you're willing to sift through and do some groundwork, you might just find what you're looking for - sadly, I didn't.
I'd heard a fair bit about Reddit as more of a Craigslist Personals equivalent. Reddit's r/r4r (and its various offshoots) is probably the most well known and thriving community that rivals those might Craigslist days. There's very little barrier to entry for testing Reddit Personals so I gave it a go.
Here's what I liked:
- Community Feel: Reddit as a platform thrives on its community-driven nature. This creates a more personal touch when browsing personals and subreddits specific to cities or interests make it easier to find like-minded individuals.
- Post Flexibility: The ability to include photos, links, or even format your post gives a bit more flair and personality compared to the text-only ads on Craigslist - but it is also the most similar to Craigslist personals of all the platforms I tested.
- Karma and Post History: Being able to see a user's post history and karma can offer insight into the person's interests and general online behavior, adding a layer of transparency not present in Craigslist. It also helps filter out the time wasters.
- Specific Niches: Beyond the general r/r4r, there are myriad niche subreddits catering to specific interests, kinks, or communities. This can be helpful for those seeking a particular type of connection.
It is worth pointing out that there's a fair bit of competition. Given Reddit's massive user base and the popularity of certain personals subreddits, posts can quickly get buried, especially if you're a man seeking women. Also, unlike Craigslist, where ads were separate from any identifiable account, your Reddit posts are tied to your account. This can be a concern for those wanting to keep their personal life separate from their Reddit identity. I decided to create a new Reddit account just for my dating profile but I think this hindered my chances.
The moderation quality can vary between subreddits and while some communities might be well-monitored and free of spam, others could be rife with irrelevant or even scammy posts and ads.
Compared to the paid options Reddit offers a completely different approach (most similar to the Craigslist Personals approach) with a nice community touch and an element of transparency. It can feel overwhelming and lacks the direct anonymity of Craigslist and other platforms and unless you have a good history on your Reddit profile it can be hard to get conversations going.
No Strings Attached
No Strings Attached is a site that promises exactly what its name suggests: casual, no-commitment relationships. My experience, like that on any dating website, was a bit mixed, although I did manage to have one of my best offline experiences using this platform.
Here's what I liked:
- Clear Intentions: One of the most apparent benefits of No Strings Attached is the platform's clarity. Everyone on the site understands the nature of the relationships they're pursuing, which eliminates the hesitancy and ambiguity that sometimes plague other platforms.
- Privacy Tools: Recognizing the discreet nature of the relationships it fosters, the website offers an array of privacy features. This includes masked profiles, and the ability to make your profile visible only to selected users.
- Video Features: Unlike some other dating platforms, No Strings Attached offers live member webcams and video broadcasting capabilities. This allows for a more interactive experience and helps in gauging compatibility before a real-life meet-up. I tried this with the one girl I met up with and I think this is why our offline meet was so successful.
- Active User Base: I found a relatively active user base, which means a higher probability of finding a compatible match within a shorter time frame. I managed a meet up in my first month.
No Strings Attached comes at a cost in order to use the premium features - which you will need to if you want to arrange a meet up. I had a mixed experience using it and I was pretty suspicious of fake profiles so you definitely have to be prepared for that when using NSA. That being said, I had one of my best ever one time casual encounters when using this NSA but you do need to be prepared to put the work in.
My top tips for success on this platform are to have a fully complete profile, be selective on who you contact and go the extra mile in your messages.
No Strings Attached offers a niche platform for those clear about wanting non-committal relationships. While it comes with its set of challenges, like potential costs and the risk of wasting time talking to those with fake profiles, it can be an exciting platform for those willing to dive in with an open mind and a cautious approach.
The Tinder app is probably the most famous of all dating apps and is synonymous with the term 'swipe right'. As famous as it is, it may not be the best place to find casual encounters in 2023. In fact, my experience with Tinder is that it's not all that great for quick hookups.
- Here's what I liked:User Interface: Tinder's swiping mechanism is both intuitive and addictive. The app's design is sleek, modern, and user-friendly, making for a fun and engaging experience.
- Profile Depth: With options to include multiple pictures, a bio, and even connect to apps like Spotify, it’s easier to get a glimpse into a person's life and interests.
- Popularity: Being one of the most widely used dating apps globally, Tinder boasts a vast and diverse user base. This increases the chances of finding a match - particularly in smaller towns.
- Quick Connections: Thanks to its swiping feature, you can quickly go through profiles and make connections without the need for lengthy introductions.
Although it has a wide ranging user base, Tinder can also feel pretty superficial. The swiping mechanism, while efficient, often promotes snap judgments based on appearance. This can lead to potentially overlooking great matches or forming connections based merely on physical attraction.
Tinder users also range from those seeking serious relationships to those looking for casual encounters. It can sometimes be challenging to gauge a person's intentions, leading to mismatched expectations and awkward dates.
On Tinder, my experiences have been varied. There were quick connections that fizzled out as fast as they started, while others led to meaningful dates and even friendships. The immediacy of the app means you're always on the edge of a new potential connection, but it also brings the challenge of sifting through mismatches to find genuine compatibility.
I don't really see it as a true alternative to Craigslist Personals.
Disclaimer: The above is a sponsored post, the views expressed are those of the sponsor/author and do not represent the stand and views of Outlook Editorial.