By Sean Mahoney
To cooperate with a new law, Craigslist recently pulled the plug on its personals section. To help fill the hole, I've put together a list of the best alternatives, both new and old, along with notes on how they compare to CL personals.
To start off, here's a table of the substitutes I've tried since the March 23rd removal, followed by a longer list of other popular alternatives:
My # of Encounters
Adult Friend Finder
Adult Friend Finder (M4M/ Gay Section)
Free Hookup Search
Instant Hookups (Gay Only)
Gays Go Dating
M4F, F4M, M4M, Couples, Groups, TS/TV/TG
You've probably heard of Adult Friend Finder, it's the only site in our list older than some of its members.
Thanks to its age, reputation, and features it's the largest nsa site (230 million users) and the second biggest dating site.
The people you find on AFF have one thing in common, they love sex, and most are complete sex addicts. Before craigslist personals was taken down, this was the only other site I used for finding sex on demand, lately it's my go-to site. You can filter for what you are looking for, whether it's women, guys, couples, swingers, or trans.
My Experience - I've met some interesting people on AFF, to say the least. One girl worked as a dildo sculptor and had at least 50 sex toys in her closet, one was a Chilean woman who wanted to cheat on her boyfriend, and another girl told me about her sound healing business and DMT experiences.
Yep, all kinda crazy. I'm not complaining though, they're also crazy in the sack.
Year Founded: 1996
Users: 116 million
Features: chat, messaging, video, profiles, forums, sex courses
Don't Look For Any Serious Relationships Here - Don't use AFF to find someone steady or stable. Every person I met was the poly type and was seeing multiple people. None of them were interested in traditional dating.
Who it's For - AFF is Essentially for anyone and everyone, you can set who you are looking for and what gender you identify as. M4F, F4M, MFM, C4M, M4T, T4M and so on.
Memberships - You can make an account for free that lets you message members who have the Gold Plan. This is a good way to see if you like the site without having to pay. Then there's also the gold membership, which is $20 - $40 a month and lets you message anyone you want and receive messages from free members.
If you want to hookup it always helps to think outside the box. Ashley Madison does this by providing a unique platform for women looking for discreet hookups.
Like a fancy night club, it's free for women, but men have to pay for credits to message people. If you are a woman looking for a Craigslist replacement this is a great free site to checkout.
My Experience (Male) - After Craigslist and AFF, this is the site I've used the most. I started off with 200 credits ($40) and that lasted me 3 months and launched me on 5 sex-capades.
My best experience was with a 39 year-old woman named Holly. After chatting for 2 days she invited me over to her place, an amazing house in a gated community. We used her hot tub, drank wine, and eventually fucked on her balcony overlooking gorgeous landscaping. It turns out her lawyer husband had been cheating on her and she was looking to get back at him.
Not every woman I messaged turned out to be as amazing as Holly though, I had to dig through AM for a while to find her.
For example, one woman I met turned out to be too shy. We talked for 2 weeks before deciding to meet up. We met in a coffee shop and I could tell she was nervous right away. I guess she had second thoughts about actually having an affair with her husband. After that I didn't hear from her again.
The other 3 women were somewhere in the middle, like Cathy, a single mom and social worker, who told me she just uses the site because it's free for women.
Year Founded: 2003
Users: 17 million
For: Mostly Straight Men & Women
Features: chat, voice chat, messaging, profiles, forums
Craigslist personals was where I had my first M4M experience. Without it, i'd probably never discovered the joys of dick, and the new heights of prostate play. So after CL shut down I have been testing out other sites and apps to find a M4M personals replacements.
Instant Hookups is a site my roommate uses a lot, so it was one of the first sites I tried after CL personals was taken down.
The first guy I met was a fashion design student. We watched 'Love Is All You Need' in his apartment before I sucked him off in his bedroom. Then he used his collection of toys on me, including the Njoy purewand, which is definitely my new favorite sex toy. As we cuddled afterward his pet cockatoo said "fuck me" every few minutes. It was definitely a very good first experience from the site.
Next I met up with Greg, who was 42 and repaired iphones for a living. We met for coffee and waffles and talked about his past-life in the US Forest Service. After 20 years working for them, he had a bit of a mid-life crisis and decided to move to the city and explore his sexuality more.
One of his specialties was massages and he invited me for one in his sauna. Once there, he offered to give me a free massage, on one condition--he would get to suck my cock afterwards. Talk about a win-win! This was about a week ago, and I will definitely be meeting up with him regularly.
Year Founded: 2011
Users: 4 million
Features: chat, voice chat, messaging, profiles, filters and searches
One thing I didn't like about this site is that they require you to pay to send more than 10 messages a week. They have a free trial that let's you do even more messages, but that is only for a few days. It's definitely not perfect, or like craigslist in this way, so i only gave it 4 out of 5 stars. But it's worth signing up for a free account just to see who is on. Be sure to get straight to the point when you message people and give them your number to text you. That way you can meet more people with your 10 messages a week.
Also, I recommend trying AFF for M4M as well. Even though the login page of their site usually shows women, it has a big male 4 male section that is always busy. Definitely the best place to find sex parties in your area or meet men with dungeons in their basements.
Other M4M alternatives include Grindr, but since most people already know about that I reviewed Instant Gay Hookups instead.
Even though all sites we've listed on this page have a free option some also have a membership. This list goes over completely free options for hooking up.
I've had to remove some from this list because they either decided to shut down or were forced to months after Fosta was passed (think backpage). Thank you for leaving comments and suggesting some of your own sites! I will keep adding new suggestions to this list.
Since casual encounters was removed a flurry of new r4r (Redditor 4 Redditor) subreddits have been springing up to meet the horny demands of the people. Each city or state has its own r4r, try googling something like "LA r4r" or "Minnesota r4r" to find yours. If you are already a redditor, this should be a subreddit you check regularly to see who's looking for a fling.
Here's a list of some of the big r4rs:
When you post an ad you include what you're looking for in the title, check out these examples of ads in the SoCal r4r.
The main downside of this alternative is that it only works well in very big cities. If you live in SoCal or a major metropolitan area this is worth trying. Another downside is that sometimes people use it to find people for non-sexual things. So mixed along side "Looking to suck some small dick this morning" you sometimes see things like "Any pug owners want to meet up for a walk?".
The FOSTA and SESTA bills now require hookup platforms to be 'gated' in some way. Usually this means creating an account and verifying your phone number or email address. Until the bills are overturned as unconstitutional, which there is a good chance of, the best alternatives are membership sites. Most options like Adult Friend Finder have a free membership and a premium membership option.
My Craigslist Experience: When I first discovered personals in 2012 I quickly realized I could summon sex on command. Checking my inbox was an addiction that consumed entire days, I even had to resort to turning on password filters so I could get a break. I toned it down a bit during recent years but I know how big a void this will leave in many communities.
If you feel like you are missing backpage more than craigslist personals try checking out our backpage alternatives post. Many of the alternatives are similar but with more of an emphasis on finding escorts in addition to personal sites.
A Minnesota native, Sean has a passion for the psychology of dating, charisma, and seduction. When he isn't writing for SpicedUpAffairs, he enjoys trail-running, speaking French, and doing 'fieldwork' in the nightlife of uptown Minneapolis.