Craigslist Dating | Is It Still Really a Thing or Not? (2024)

Craigslist, a name synonymous with classified ads, was once a popular platform for personal ads and casual encounters. It’s true, we aren’t lying! And although Craigslist Dating might have worked once, it doesn’t anymore—because it no longer exists.

If you weren’t aware, the Craigslist personals section was shut down in 2018 due to lots–and we mean a whole lot–of issues, including smaller concerns about shady people to more serious things like sex and human trafficking and scams—and this closure marked the end of the platform’s role as a venue for dating and casual encounters.

But don’t worry, Craigslist as a whole continues to operate, providing classified ads for various other categories such as jobs, housing, and items for sale.

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The Craigslist Dating Experience

According to New Idea, “Craigslist is a website where you can post and/or view classified ads, which can range from job postings, real estate, for sale items, services, gigs, local events, and more. It is reminiscent of newspaper classifieds, except people can search for specific ads that interest them quite easily.

“The site, established in the mid-90s, was one of the first sites dedicated to classified ads. At its peak, the site brought in millions of visitors every month and millions of dollars in revenue every year.

“Craigslist was so popular, it became a fixture in American and internet culture. Several TV shows, video games, and films feature the site, such as New Girl, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.”

Craigslist’s approach to dating was unique due to its simplicity and anonymity. Users just posted personal ads detailing what they were looking for, and responses would land in their inbox. While some found meaningful connections, others faced disappointment, mismatches, and safety concerns.

This one writer who posted on Craigslist told their dating story under a fake name–they’d write specific ads about their dream date and then have to sort through all of the gross come-ons or just plain bizarre responses.

Even with the letdowns and not getting the partner she hoped for, the experience was still good for her. She learned more about herself and what she really wants in a relationship. So that’s a plus! This is just one example of the ups and downs of Craigslist dating– some people connected, others didn’t match or faced serious safety issues, and, of course, the whole scary sex trafficking thing.

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The Pitfalls of Craigslist Dating

In general, Craigslist Dating was a place for people looking for casual stuff and hookups–it was easy to use anonymously, so it was popular for those who, for whatever reason, did not want to use a mainstream dating app.

But no photo verification and anonymity also led to uncomfortable situations and huge safety risks. Over time, it was associated with sex trafficking and scams, and they shut down the personals section in 2018.

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Craigslist Dating Alternative Platforms

After the shutdown of the personals section, users seeking dating or hookup opportunities had to turn to alternative dating apps—this change led to the rise of various other platforms specifically tailored for dating and casual encounters, as detailed below.

  • DoubleList: Used for casual dating, and is popular in the US, Australia, Canada, UK.
  • Adult Friend Finder: Used for hookups and members have simple profiles which get right to the point of what they are searching for.
  • BedPage: Mostly used for one-night stands and hookups.
  • Locanto Personals: Like Craigslist for casual encounters to post/respond to personal ads looking for dates.
  • Oodle Personals: Connects older and mature singles for both serious and casual relationships.

These platforms offer better features and security measures compared to what was available on Craigslist Dating personals, which had both success stories and cautionary tales when it comes to dating.

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Modern Dating Apps: A Better Alternative?

As digital dating has evolved, newer apps provide way more features and safety checks than the Craigslist personals section ever did.

Here is a quick rundown of some well-known ones:

  • Tinder: Famous for its iconic swipe feature and can be used for both casual and serious relationships.
  • Bumble: This female-first dating app lets women take charge of starting convos and is revered for this groundbreaking approach.
  • Hinge: It tries to focus more on substantial over superficial connections, but it is a mixed bag–you can find both on Hinge.
  • OkCupid: This platform has detailed profiles and match questions for better compatibility between its users.
  • eHarmony: Renowned for its in-depth personality test, sophisticated matching algorithms, and emphasis on forming serious relationships between members.

These mainstream and modern dating apps all have varying levels of security checks, detailed profiles, and much better matching methods, meaning they are all more trustworthy and effective choices compared to the now-defunct Craigslist Dating.


Although there were a few success stories from Craigslist’s short-lived dating section, the overall experience was extremely risky and lacked safety measures. The explosion of new platforms and dating apps showcases the advancements in online dating, providing safer and more efficient ways to connect with compatible romantic partners.

It is obvious that online dating has come a long way from the Craigslist era, with an abundance of alternatives readily accessible–literally at your fingertips.

Craigslist Dating | Is It Still Really a Thing or Not? (2024)
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