Craigslist Personal Section Is Dead. Here’s What to Use Instead

Doublelist Team

February 13, 2023 9 minutes read
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Care to journey with us back to the prehistoric days of the internet? Before the age of dating apps and social media. Before TikTok ruled our lives and touch screens were the norm. Back then, noble daters on the interwebs tried to find someone to love or hook up with. Where did they turn? Craigslist Personal ads.

Craigslist was the go-to place for newspaper-style classifieds. It was where you would advertise or search for anything your heart desired. From a gently used couch to an acting gig, CL has you covered. A big part of that was Craigslist personal posts. If you’re wondering what those ads were or what to replace them with today, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to satiate all of your virtual desires.

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Defining Craigslist Personal Ads

Craigslist personal ads were posts made on the Craigslist online personals subsections of the broader Craigslist site. CL personals were the place to go to find anything romantic or sexual. So if you were posting a Craigslist personal, you were putting together a post that usually said who you were (or who you wanted people to think of you as) along with information about what you were romantically or sexually seeking. These posts ran the gamut. Some were short and sweet:

“Man for Man. White, in shape 47 top seeking adventurous, in shape 40-30 y.o. Bottom.”

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Others created their own digital love story with flowing prose, missed connection encounters, and dreams of what the future could hold.

No matter what the adult personals browser sought, they could find it in this bare-bones, almost html style website. So what happened to this haven for all things love and lust? Eventually, the times caught up with it.

In 2018, the site shut down permanently due to legal concerns. The US congress passed a bill to crack down on trafficking (a good thing, obviously). However, because of the anonymous and often NSFW way that CL’s personal section worked, the site’s founders thought it was too risky to keep the subsection running. Since then, the internet’s had a Craigslist Personal section-shaped hole in its heart.

Explaining Local Craigslist Personal Ads

If you’re unfamiliar with CL classifieds, you probably don’t understand the ins and outs of local Craigslist personal ads. The adult classifieds section worked based on location, the same way all Craigslist did (and does). To use CL, you first have to select your location. Once you enter your city, you navigate to Craigslist’s version of that region’s forums. This includes further subsections for selling items, services, pets, etc.

So local Craigslist personal ads refer to those dating ads or casual encounter ads written for a specific location. When you would look at these ads, you’d have the option to see how far away the poster was. That way, you could decide if it was convenient to see them or to meet up at the halfway point.

This information wasn’t as detailed or precise as it is in the modern dating apps and sites you know today. Back then, computers didn’t have the same level of GPS confirmation or information sharing, so there was still the risk that you’d be talking to (or sharing intimacies with) someone millions of miles away. Therefore, while chatting with a person in the Craigslist community was entertaining and exciting, it was far from safe, secure, or ideal for many young people.

2 Types of Craigslist Personal Encounters

In general, there are two main types of Craigslist personal encounters, which we’ve touched on earlier. One is the casual dating side of Craigslist. The other is the serious side. In the following two sections, we’ll give you a behind-the-scenes peek at each of these different versions. We’ll talk about the pros, cons, etc., that come with every move and every date in these areas.

With that, let’s get to know the less serious side first. Casual encounters on Craigslist, here we come.


Casual Encounters

To be honest, this is the more famous side of CL encounters. This is the end of the site that most people think of when they think of Craigslist personals. They picture a playground for all things sexual, fancy-free daters, and adult activities galore. In many ways, that’s what this online dating site ways.

Since it was anonymous, it was a low-risk way to feel out any “alternative” or risque dating preferences you might have. Want to seek out other people in your area looking for a quick fling? Check out the Craigslist personal ad section. Thirsty for dirty pictures and kinky behavior? Forget your troubles and join the personals.

It was also a clear-cut way to look for casual hookups. Other internet dating sites of the time focused on love and commitment. Think of that old eHarmony or commercials. Those were sites for serious, mature daters. Craigslist, on the other hand, was naturally more inviting to young thrill-seekers and early adult creators.

As with any webpage that welcomes adult activities, there’s always a downside. The Casual dating side of Craigslist didn’t just attract well-meaning horny adults or curious kinksters. If you searched the personal section for sex, you also ran the risk of falling for scams or criminal traps. Bad actors knew this part of the site existed and took advantage of vulnerable folks looking for a good time, partly because the site shuttered.

Serious Relationships

Fear not, hopeless romantics. The Craigslist personal section wasn’t only for frisky folks. It was just as welcoming to anyone looking for serious relationships. Remember, this was back in that rarified air before dating apps and the widespread use of dating services. In those days, people still thought the only way you could meet someone “serious” was IRL. So the personals on Craigslist acted as a haven for people struggling to find love “the conventional way.”

In the same way, you would use the site for casual dating, and you would use it to seek out long-lasting partners. You would write an ad and fill it with all the information you wanted your suitor to know about you. Or, you would respond to one that called your name.

One of the appeals of using Craigslist over a conventional dating site was you could get as detailed as you wanted. You could get into all the physical and mental traits you desired without worrying about a character limit. And again, if anonymity topped your priority list, CL had you covered.

3 Other Personal Ads Sites Like Craigslist Personal

Did you fall in love with the idea of personal ads sites like the Craigslist personal section? We don’t blame you. Before you despair that that particular webpage for love and fun is extinct, we have good news for you. There are a few alternative sites to fill your fantasies.

We’ve done the hard work for you and selected the three best adult classified dating sites to check out. That way, you don’t waste your time on spammy services or ghost sites. Whether you’re looking for a life-long love affair or a temporary fling, one of these substitutes is sure to satiate you.

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Craigslist Personal Substitute: Adult Friend Finder

It doesn’t take more than a casual google search to know that Adult Friend Finder tops the list of craigslist personal ad site replacements. AFF has just about anything (legal) to titillate your senses. We’re talking cam workers, dirty chatters, naughty nudes, dating matches, lurid live streams, and more. Any user on the site is there for a good time, so no matter who you match with, you can count on them having a high-vibing libido. To use AFF, you just have to create an account. All you have to do is give an email, password, and username. You get to stay anonymous if you like, just like you would on Craigslist.

The downsides? It’s not an utterly scandal-free site or 100% safe. Like the infamous Ashley Madison website, it’s had security breaches and attracts fake profiles. Though to be fair, few dating sites are completely secure. Anytime you put your information online, you’re opening yourself up to malicious users who want to use your personal, sexual, or financial information to make money. So before you use AFF or any craigslist alternative, keep internet safety at the top of your mind and protect yourself.

Craigslist Personal Replacement: Reddit

The next best replacement for the Craigslist personal ad world is Reddit. Yes, Reddit isn’t just a place to closely follow your favorite subtopics or to get into fights with internet strangers. You can also find love on the forum. Specifically, we’re talking about the r/r4r (general dating) or r/dirtyr4r (sex-specific) subreddits.

The plus side of this option? It’s relatively similar to the original CL model. You put up a simple title like M4M, W4W, M4W, etc., and then in the body of the post, you elaborate on what you’re seeking. It’s free, easy to locate within the Reddit website or app, and pretty inclusive of different sexualities.

The downside? It’s tough to filter down. Unlike a dating app, you can’t just open up a “Sort by” menu to focus on the posts that fit your needs. Plus, any post you make on there with your Reddit account connects to all your other Reddit activities. For this reason, most people make “throwaway” or burner accounts to stay anonymous on r4r. But at the same time, if you don’t remember to log into your throwaway account, you could open yourself up to unwanted exposure.

Craigslist Personal Alternative: DoubleList

If you’re looking for the closest alternative to the Craigslist personal ad section, look no further than DoubleList. DoubleList is the closest modern-day substitute for Craigslist Personal ads. What are the similarities?

  • Anonymity. To make an account, you must confirm your email address, create a password, and then make your own personalized username for all your dating activities.
  • Adult classifieds style ads. No more dealing with dating apps and their thousands of icebreaker-type questions. Here you have a blank slate to advertise for the exact type of interaction you want.
  • Room for sex or love. Unlike choosing between different Reddit threads or picking either AFF or a serious dating site, it all lives in one place at DoubleList. Here you can find whatever you’re looking for: be it naughty, nice, or something in the middle.
  • 100% free membership. Seriously. You never have to worry about paywalled features. You get everything you could desire with your profile, no credit card necessary.

Sign up for your free account today!

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