But I’ve never talked about couch surfers prowling for sex. I’ve never experienced it (at least, not quite like that), but we need to talk about it. Now.
In December, Business Insider published an article called Couchsurfing’s Sex Secret: It’s The Greatest Hook-Up App Ever Devised.
It discusses various Couchsurfing hosts (and couch surfers) who use couch surfing as a tool to hook up. And if you land on one of their couches and don’t want to hook up, you might be in for an awkward night.
I posted the article above to my social networks to see what other people thought. It evoked quite a reaction. Many people were horrified, and had very few kind words for the article’s main character “Riccardo”, who hooks up with well over half of his couch surfing guests.
Other readers balked at the idea that this could be happening, citing their own couch surfing experiences in dozens of countries, with hosts who were solely interested in the cultural exchange.
Couch Surfing Profiles: Choose Wisely
Riccardo’s profile reads like an ad in the personals – he even states that he only accepts female guests. I’m willing to bet a good majority of his guests know what they might be getting themselves into well before the lights go out.
I’ve never had a couch surfing experience that ended up in the sack (nor have I looked for one); but then again I would never have responded to Riccardo’s profile either.
It boils down to what you want, and finding the profile of a person who matches your interests. I only contact people who have fully completed profiles, testimonies from other guests, and something in their profile/interests/career that gives us common ground.
Some people only choose to stay with families. Others prefer a certain age range. It’s all out there; it’s up to you to choose your poison.
Here are some suggestions other travelers shared about how they make sure they have a safe and purely cultural exchange when couch surfing:
– If I was a single female I would never stay with anyone who says they will only host females.
– Be very intentional for who you are and what you are about, and leave no room for others to ‘wonder’ about your intentions. In your profile, you could state that very clearly – at least, that’s what we do.
– I stay well clear of the profiles that start speaking like a dating profile and generally keep clear of men, although I’ve just spent 2 nights at my first male host – he had 4 of us girls there and one was sharing his bed.
– But what if you were 21…might be a different ball park… I don’t think us ‘older kids’ use CS as much as the young ones do…and when I have inquired I only look for peeps in there late 30’s and older.
Hooking up is Natural
Reading this article was a little surprising to me too, but then again not so much.
For any traveler, connecting with locals is a draw; for the single traveler, the heightened emotion of travel in general and the intensity with which travelers connect on the road can easily convert into something physical if the moment and circumstances permit.
Travel accelerates all relationships, be they platonic or romantic. People come into and out of your life at a dizzying pace on the road; so if there’s a connection, it cultivates very quickly. And sometimes, that means you end up in the sack while staying with your couch surfing host. That’s totally fine by me – as long as both parties are clear on the terms.
What I found surprising about the article was the degree to which some people use couch surfing specifically to hook up. I’m all for going with the moment, but trolling for sex on couch surfing sites? That’s poor taste in my mind. Go use one of the dedicated hook-up sites for travelers (and yes, there are dedicated hook up sites for travelers – read the Business Insider article for links).
It’s not Just Guys
Ladies, before you go and get all up in arms about Riccardo and his sleazy approach, remember it’s not just guys who do this. I was chatting with a fellow when I was in Berlin recently, who had traveled extensively with couch surfing. He consistently stayed with women (often women much older than he) who propositioned him – some even quite aggressively. (I’m still not sure whether he was complaining or bragging).
Have you had any dodgy or bizarre couch surfing experiences? Please share in the comments!