The Craigslist personals section shut down in 2018 after Congress passed strict laws to reduce sex trafficking. But people still miss the convenience, anonymity, and interesting stories that came from the service. Fortunately, hookup seekers who want to stay anonymous have tons of alternatives to Craigslist.

The best Craigslist personals alternatives combine the ease of use and anonymity that Craigslist offered with better security and safety so casual sex seekers can get what they’re looking for without worrying.

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★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • Discreetly arranges one-night stands and extramarital affairs
  • More than 80 million profiles worldwide
  • Travel-friendly features for seeking matches in other cities

Although Ashley Madison is most known for facilitating affairs, the dating platform is good for a lot more than married hookups. Whether you’re single or married, Ashley Madison provides the tools to help you keep your sex life discreet.

Photo blurring and anonymous profiles keep your identity a secret, and browser history clearing and the panic button mean that even if someone walks in while you’re browsing, you can keep a low profile. Users also save time because each Ashley Madison member sets their relationship preferences: sexting only, casual dating, or serious dating are all options.

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★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • A global network of naughty singles over 18
  • Ability to blur nude and explicit content, if desired
  • Advanced search filters and one-on-one messaging

If you prefer a dating website with a flair for adult content, BeNaughty is the place to be. The site puts videos and photos right at the forefront, so things stay hot while you browse for your next casual hookup. 

It takes less than a minute to set up your BeNaughty profile, and you can choose which details to provide or leave out, apart from your gender and the gender you’re seeking. For women, a profile photo opens up all the features, but men will need a premium membership to get access to everything BeNaughty has to offer.

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★★★★★ 4.7/5.0

Adult Friend Finder has been in the business of helping local singles, couples, and groups for more than 20 years, and the adult dating site continues to offer the biggest platform for casual encounters in the world. 

It’s easy to sign up and post a personal ad in the forums, or take part in spicy chat rooms full of sexy people, all for free. Although the popular site has had scandals in the past, users can be confident that AFF has learned from its mistakes, and the security and privacy features mean you can stay anonymous while you search.

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★★★★★ 4.5/5.0
  • A massive user base of over 70 million dating profiles
  • Send a free private message or Flirtcast to get something going
  • Exchange nude pics or adult videos with a Flirt member you trust

Flirt.com makes it easy to find people who are just your speed if you’re looking for a low-pressure environment where you can have fun while you search for a casual date or a hookup. Chat rooms are a low-pressure venue for making contact, letting you get to know people in your area without the stress of a first message.

Flirt.com offers several ways to make the first contact. If you want to cast your net wide, you can send out a Flirtcast, or make use of the private messaging system. Premium users get full access, while free membership comes with restrictions.

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★★★★★ 4.5/5.0
  • A casual personals site for singles, couples, and groups
  • Profiles have suggestive photos and strip tease videos
  • Chat live via a two-way webcam or private messaging

FriendFinder-X offers up a judgment-free atmosphere and lots of sexy content to keep things going. Whether you’re single or in a couple, this playground for hookup seekers allows you to find the right people in your area to unlock your fantasies, without judgment or harassment.

Free membership on FriendFinder-X is easy and quick, but premium membership unlocks a lot of benefits, including unlimited access to erotic photos, stories, and video, and unlimited private messages.

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★★★★ 4.4/5.0
  • A massive men-only sex and swinger community
  • Browse profiles and send private messages to your favorites
  • Profiles feature erotic videos and sexually explicit blogs

Gay men in search of casual sex have a lot of options, but MenNation stands out from the pack by combining sex with community. If you’re a man seeking men for a hookup or just want to talk, MenNation welcomes you to the dating service, regardless of your sexual orientation. 

In addition to hookup ads in the forums, MenNation offers live video content and photos to get your motor running. Premium members get access to Buzzmode, a tool that lets you control a wearable sex toy that a live streamer on the site is using.

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★★★★ 4.3/5.0
  • Create a free profile in less than a minute
  • Search filters can identify attractive singles and couples in the area
  • Strip tease videos, revealing photos, and other adult content

For woman-loving women, finding sex online is often a daunting experience, but LesbianPersonals creates a safe space to explore sapphic attraction. The hookup site cultivates an open, inviting space for queer women to get explicit in classified ads by excluding straight women and single men.

You can browse anonymously for free if you’re not comfortable being out about your lesbian attraction, but the community at LesbianPersonals works hard to welcome women who want to be with women, from the public areas of the site to private messages.

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★★★★★ 4.5/5.0

Singles who are tired of screening potential matches to rule out people who are looking for something more serious can turn to OneNightFriend, which provides a platform where everyone is on the same page. The hookup site keeps everything simple, down to creating your dating profile.

OneNightFriend isn’t like a classifieds section, but instead, a minimalistic platform where you can browse, match, and message without a lot of bells and whistles. With a premium membership, you can access even more perks, like auto browser history clearing and read receipts.

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★★★★ 3.8/5.0
  • Sexually active men can create free profiles
  • Matching system uses GPS information to find local dates
  • Millions of prospects available in 192 countries

Grindr is a well-known name when it comes to gay hookup apps — and for good reason. The swiping app brought the convenience of Tinder to the gay community, while still keeping the community at the heart of what it does. The Grindr app remains one of the most popular apps for gay, bisexual, and queer men to cruise, no matter their sexual orientation, and it offers all the basic services for free within your local area.

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★★★★ 3.7/5.0

Plenty of Fish is a free dating site that attracts a casual dating crowd. If you’ve only heard of Plenty of Fish from the namedrop in the Lady Gaga video for “Telephone,” it’s worth looking at for an alternative to Craigslist.

The 4 million active daily users on the platform boost the odds of finding sexy singles in your area, and it’s easy to sign up. You may have to spend a little more time dodging fake profiles, but for a free platform, it’s an easy trade.

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★★★★ 3.9/5.0
  • Free private messaging available to all members
  • Users can state that they’re seeking hookups on their profiles
  • Responsible for 50,000 dates per week

OkCupid launched in 2004 with the goal of keeping every essential feature free, and every CEO who has jumped on board has held to that promise. Combining the ease of a personal ad board with the enhanced security of a dating site, OkCupid lets users broadcast who they are and what they’re looking for without charging. Free messages work a little differently than they used to — you need a mutual match to send a second message — but free members can still browse, chat, and meet a real person without needing to pay a cent.

12. Pure

The Pure app launched before Craigslist personals shut down, but the personal ad app definitely gained popularity after 2018. Getting started is simple: download the app, verify via phone or email, and post an ad expressing exactly what you’re looking for. You can browse ads other local members have posted, and once you have a mutual match, you have 24 hours to make it happen before the ad and the messages attached to it automatically delete. Free, anonymous, and safe, Pure is a sex-positive playground that keeps it fun. 

FAQs: Why Did Craigslist Remove Dating?

Initially, in response to pressure from Congress, Craigslist shut down only one section of the online personals the site hosted. The original personals section on Craigslist included a space for sex workers, both advertising for clients and recruiting, but concerns about sex trafficking pushed the team behind Craigslist to shut that down first.

Man at his computer image
Due to concerns about sex trafficking, Craigslist shut down its personals section.

After the passage of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act in 2018, Craigslist made the decision to remove the personals section entirely, citing the danger to the overall classified ad board and the difficulty of monitoring the content. Pressure against Backpage, which ultimately resulted in the site being seized a month later, almost certainly played a role. 

Where Can I Safely Meet Someone on Craigslist?

Although Craigslist shut down the personals section in 2018, enterprising people continue to use the platform to advertise for casual encounters, usually through a fake ad for something else. We suggest you exercise caution if you’re interested in meeting a stranger for a hookup on this platform.

Before you agree to meet, try to arrange for a phone call or a quick video call so you know who you’re going to be meeting. Once you decide to meet up, make sure to meet in a public place first, preferably one where there will be some people around. Take reasonable blind-date precautions and make sure you have an exit strategy just in case.

Do Dating Sites Have an Incognito Mode?

Several dating sites do offer Incognito Mode as a premium feature so you can browse for hookup partners without making your presence known. But very few sites or dating apps offer that function as an automatic setting for all members. Ashley Madison is an affair dating platform, so it has more incognito and privacy features than most apps and sites in the dating world.

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★★★★ 4.2/5.0

Ashley Madison is one quasi-exception to the rule. Since everyone on the online dating platform is anonymous, it’s like an automatic incognito mode. Members don’t provide their names, and any photos are blurred, so while it’s not quite the same thing as not showing up at all, your identity remains protected.

Dating Sites Offer More Security Than a Craigslist Hookup

Many singles still mourn the loss of Craigslist personals for finding local hookups. But lots of alternatives offer anonymity and a judgment-free space, as well as a more secure method of finding hookup partners while staying safe.

Don’t put your body at risk while working on your body count! Try a hookup site or app and get your casual sex fix safely.

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