Refine Your Search

A Brief Return to Craigslist


1 Minute Read

I have a love/hate relationship with Craigslist, the American noticeboard with sections devoted to job, property, services and dating. I love, well, its randomness, the way it always manages to turn up someone somewhere who can quash a bug on my website or make my PowerPoint presentations shine. I hate how finding those people often means having to wade through the dozens of imposters, con artists and fantasists who use the site. Still I am loyal; at least from time to time.

Recently I did use it for something mutually beneficial. While searching for an interior designer who wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg, I discovered one who refused to charge me on the understanding she could showcase the work as a way of achieving her British Institute of Interior Design qualification.

And then there’s the sex stuff – mutually beneficial but for different reasons altogether.

Eight years ago, before Tinder arrived on the scene and stole some of Craigslist’s thunder, Craigslist was an easy way to find local travel guides with special ‘perks’. I was in my mid-forties at the time, visiting Rome. I encountered one very nice young man who travelled all the way from Naples to Rome to meet me and show me around the city. He arrived, took me for a walk around the Coliseum and then, in my 5-star hotel room, he performed his final generoso—making me squirt all over the 400-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Craigslist had its purpose back then, it made business trips more fun.

Given my happy history with Craigslist, on the first day of spring, when the sun was shining brightly, the daffodils were in bloom and even complete strangers smiled at me while shopping on Kilburn High Road, I decided to throw the dice and post a personal on Craigslist. I was horny and was hoping to find, if not a partner, at the very least a shag.

Having just attended a workshop at the UK Dating Fair the weekend previously, entitled “Who Am I Compatible With?” a class that encouraged us to seek partners with shared values (apparently, it’s a myth that opposites attract), I was inspired to make my desire clear from the start:

Dominant, tall, slim man (45+) sought by confident, attractive woman.

 I listed the attributes I was seeking: someone older, wiser, perhaps semi-retired, a lover of good food and wine and travel. I mentioned that I generally identified as submissive but leaned towards being a take-charge person in my day-to-day life. I specified no toy boys or married men, knowing from past experience, on Craigslist at least, that many men tended to skip the ad’s text and go straight to the image. I’d posted “no one under 40” and within five minutes received dozens of messages from Millennials telling me I was the perfect vehicle for their MILF fantasy.

In my ad, I requested that the man have all his own teeth and was able to write in full sentences, and I made a point of noting that I preferred men who looked after their bodies. “Most importantly,” I added, “you do not take yourself too seriously, are naturally curious about the world and interested in what others have to say.”

I pressed submit and, as has been my experience in the past on this site, within a few minutes the replies came flooding in.

There were the usual rejectees: men who couldn’t spell or who used text speak, recent college grads my own sons’ ages, and guys who provided a cock shot, a phone number, and nothing else. However, there were also half a dozen that stood out. They included a 45-year-old firefighter who claimed to be in ‘good shape.’ I was suspicious, given my CL experience with men and knowing that “good shape” was a subjective term. Another was a 39-year-old banker based in Canary Wharf with a penchant for poker and a ‘mature city professional,’ who apparently thought that information alone was enough to entice me. And there was a man named Bryan, a 47-year-old Canadian based in London, who sent me lots of pictures of his erect penis. It was of a pleasing size and shape, although I’ve always preferred a man who keeps it in his pants until after a face-to-face meeting, after which making a penile appearance is the logical next step.

After skimming through another ten or twenty messages, one arrived that contained the four magic words guaranteed to make me wet. Semi-Retired. Investment. Banker. That is – a man with money and time on his hands. I’m not a gold digger but I’ve funded most of my relationships and no longer have an interest in doing so.

The banker’s name was John and he had a double-barrelled surname which indicated Eastern European origins. A quick Google search revealed a slightly dodgy past. He’d had some kind of run-in with the FCA over an investment scheme that hadn’t gone well, and been suspended by his employer, one of the larger banks. But then, is that really unusual in that business? Over the years, I’d read numerous stories in the broadsheets about bankers cooking the books or setting up dubious trust funds or Ponzi schemes. At least John hadn’t gone to prison. He seemed interesting, at least, and probably had a story to tell. I got in touch.

John told me he spent most of his time managing a block of studio apartments he owned in West London and one he had just purchased in Leipzig, his hometown. He had a nice voice, sounded friendly and relatively interesting.

We met on a Sunday afternoon, at a Hilton Hotel bar, at John’s suggestion.

I got there early and took a seat at the back of the room, away from the handful of other customers scattered around the cavernous space. Dissonant jazz music was playing through the speakers. The décor looked like it had been lifted from a Bond movie —dark brown wallpaper, long mirrors, large high-backed 60s-style chairs. The bar was twenty feet long and its stools were deserted. I ordered a glass of Malbec, handed my card to the waitress, and hoped I wouldn’t be drinking alone. Having been stood up on dates with Craigslist prospects before, I’ve learned that one man’s “I’ll be there” is another’s “Sure, unless a better opportunity arises.”

John arrived 10 minutes later, in a mix of brown tweed jacket, purple flowery shirt, a pair of jeans and a grey flat cap—country gentlemen, by way of Bayswater. His skin was almost transparent and so white it made him appear otherworldly. Slim and about six feet tall, he took off his hat to reveal a shiny, bald pate. He had small blue eyes and slightly lopsided lips that I felt drawn to because their asymmetry was surprisingly fetching.

I was in no position to judge him, as I was wearing jeans, tan suede cowboy boots and a multicoloured trilby, which covered my long hair, recently tinted fuchsia, my nod to difference.

I stood up to kiss him on both cheeks. “You made it,” I said, the surprise barely hidden in my voice.

“Well, of course,” he replied, sincerely.

John called the waitress over and asked her whether she had any non-alcoholic cocktails. Red Flag number #1. It was late afternoon and I knew John had taken public transport. A drink or two usually takes the edge off first meetings. It looked like I’d be drinking alone. By the time, his non-alcoholic mojito appeared, I had almost finished with my wine and ordered another, not caring whether that might bother a non-drinker.

We discovered a shared interest in property, as I’d recently renovated my home. He told me about his property portfolio and a renovation project he had been working on in a remote Eastern European city, now almost complete. After an hour we were still talking about it. He took out his phone and we went through the slide show of images on it: the newly tiled bathroom, the dining table shipped from Italy, the balcony and roof terrace. Like so many other men I’d met online, the focus of the conversation was him. What he was doing, his own achievements, what he enjoyed. And I put up with it because I was ambivalent. And horny. And he was sufficiently intriguing.

“Maybe you can help me christen the bed,” he said, confidently. I laughed nervously, despite myself and despite my experience with Craigslist men. I hadn’t even had a sip of my second drink and he was already steering the conversation towards sex. “And you can give me some decorating advice too,” he added.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to fuck him or be his interior designer. Still, he ticked many of the qualities I was looking for in a potential partner. He was a semi-retired. As a former investment banker, he was solvent. We shared many interests. While he wasn’t traditionally good looking, he could hold a conversation, although laughter was in short supply. He confessed to voting for Nigel Farage and I wondered if I could overlook that. I wasn’t sure I could. That would be hard to explain to my friends, who were rooting for Jeremy Corbyn at the time. I was horny, so I tried to remain open-minded. We had met on Craigslist, after all, not Guardian Soulmates or one of the staid sites targeting those seeking long-term relationships.

We ended up taking the Jubilee Line together. As we entered London Bridge station, John turned around on the escalator, pulled me towards him and pressed his lips against mine. His tongue probed my mouth. I was a little merry with the drink so I let him for a few seconds. Then I pulled away.

“Come back with me,” he said. I told him I had to work the next day and get up early, which was half true. By this point, I just wanted him to go.

We got into the carriage, while I counted the stops until he got off at Baker Street. I didn’t want to go home with him. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see him again. I was desperate for him to say something funny, to break the awkward silences, the uncomfortable conversations about sex and the misplaced intimacy.

When I got home, I went to my computer and saw another 40 emails in my inbox, all of them responses to my original Craigslist post. I deleted them all. And then I pulled up the ad and pressed delete. Craigslist had once been a reliable site for connecting with men, back when I thought of men as items on a takeaway menu: to be selected, delivered, nibbled on, then tossed aside. Craigslist still worked that way: it brought me a wide selection of prospects and then face-to-face with John, a man who found me attractive and wanted a shag. Just hours earlier, I’d thought I’d wanted the same, and when given the opportunity, I’d opted out.

Special thanks to Mark Rathmell for creating the illustrations.

The happiest and most sexually-fulfilling years of your life


5 Minute Read

Thomas Moore lived as a monk in a Catholic religious order for 12 years before leaving to become a university lecturer, writer and psychotherapist. Now aged 77, he has a wife and two children and lectures on psychology and the role of spirituality in medicine. In his latest enlightening book, he offers a new approach to ageing, arguing it is something to be cherished, not feared.

What does it mean to age? Many of us find the idea of ageing both sad – the loss of youth, hair, loved ones – and frightening, as we confront the possibility of a future dealing with illness and mental or physical incapacity.

But as a former monk and a psychotherapist who has counselled thousands of people over the past 40 years, I want to tell you that there is another way to look at growing old.
Of course, we must be realistic about the downsides, but there is much to be positive about, too. What I want to teach people about is the joy of ageing.

When I use the word “ageing”, I mean becoming more of a person over time.

Source: The happiest and most sexually-fulfilling years of your life

How the Hell Did I Get Into a Committed Relationship at 60…


1 Minute Read

‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me, there lay an invincible summer.’ Albert Camus

I’d had some crazy times. At 43, I split with my long-term partner and headed straight into a number of relational car crashes.

In my mid to late 40s, there’d been the psychotherapist who drank dangerously; he’d make phone calls from telephone boxes declaring that he was yearning for me, and I’d do dreadful journeys up and down to Slough in order to participate in wild nights of bacchanalian sex. Yes, Slough! My ex looked after my nine year old son on these occasions. Poor boy would ask me if the lights were on when I got back. And they definitely were not.

Then even worse was the charismatic alcoholic entrepreneur who would ring to inform me that he’d been on a five day bender and was literally eating the carpet. Off I’d pop to help out. Nurse Rose to the rescue. Incredibly, I convinced myself that this was an adventure. Sorry Marlon. This gentleman also professed that he was a tantric master. That was not my lived experience.

Of course, there were heady moments in both those relationships. There were melting kisses in the moonlight, exciting ideas exchanged on summer evenings, our own absurd performances of Hamlet in Holland Park and the sometimes ecstatic, often painful dance of push and pull. And not a hint of a committed relationship on the horizon.

What was interesting – was not the blaming and judging of these men – but rather why I was insistently making these choices. Where did my compulsion to be with unavailable men come from? It took a few years more for me to look at my own unavailability.

During the one year Courage To Change group therapy course with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern, I learned how difficult it was to show my vulnerability to others. I also practised diversionary tactics by having a relationship with a younger male participant. The high drama of this relationship – at the time, he’d started something with another woman in the group – allowed me to sidestep any underlying grief/pain of my own. Instead, we had our very own soap opera. This man was a delight and we did manage to meet on Planet Playful, which was idyllic for all too-brief-a-time.

In my early 50s, my relationship life plunged to an all-time low. Somehow I allowed myself to ‘fall in love’ with a former neighbour who not capable – there was deep trauma in his past – of the kind of intimacy that I longed for. It became a dark, persistent secret that was shameful to me. I told no-one how far I’d descended. In fact, I have him to thank for eventually stopping all contact between us. That was the only way.

The workshop years followed. I’d already done the Hoffman Process, which made me aware of those behavioural patterns learned from my parents and became the ideal place to forgive them. I did the New Year’s workshop Passion, Power and Love with tantra teacher, Jan Day. It was restorative, fun and flirtatious. For the first time in months, I inhabited myself in that richly embroidered fashion which made me feel excited. At Easter, I did Jan’s seven day Living Tantra 1, which was all about sexual healing. It was a blast. Challenging and nurturing in equal measure. There was a lot of boundary work – learning when to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ basically when it came to loving touch. There were extraordinary moments of letting go in dance, in grief, in anger, and in pleasure shared with others. We were a community of emotional explorers and it felt like a healthy place to dwell for a while.

Funnily enough, I was expecting to meet a man, ‘the man’ on these workshops; but instead I met a woman. Not in a pansexual way, but in a loving, intimate way. I found a new woman friend, Jayne, that I could share my deeply hidden and shameful sides with. Without fear of recrimination and judgement. That was such an immense liberation, and continues to be. At last I could breathe freely without having to put myself into a socialised repressed straight jacket. The act of sharing my darker nooks and crannies with her was/is a gift that opens my heart every time. My fragility was/is my strength. I still have to remind myself. I’d much rather be seen as warrior woman.

And I faced into what drove me to make those sorts of choices in men. I acknowledged my own complex relationship with my father. I understood that I was unavailable on an intimate level because I was still trying to rescue him from his depression and therefore ignoring my own needs. I wept and screamed like a banshee. It didn’t help me find a partner but it did help me feel more relaxed in my own skin.

A women’s group – the Wild Women – came next. Lots of emotional sharing, too much drinking and not enough boundaries meant an intense experience every time but it was inevitably short-lived. Another more structured one – simply called the Women’s Group – has lasted six years. It is a safe place where I can collapse in tears, where I can ask to be hugged and stroked, where I can show sides of myself that I do not show anywhere else. It’s a safe container to allow the depths of winter emotionally without a need to feel that the invincible summer has to come. It’s a sigh of relief.

And then there was the simple contentment and the positive aliveness of being alone. Okay, my son was still around but there wasn’t a man around. I began to realise that I relished this state. I could spend time reading and writing poetry. I started the four year project where I had walking adventures around Harlesden which eventually turned into the book, A London Safari: walking adventures in NW10. I danced 5 Rhythms. I played tennis. Every year for eight years, I went to the ten day Field of Love camp, which provided a loose community of like-minded people to hang out with for the rest of the year. I spent precious time with my women and men friends. I no longer hankered for a committed relationship, I surrendered to the idea that it would either appear or it wouldn’t.

Of course, there were still sexy interludes. There was the not to be missed International Tantra Festival in the foothills of Catalonia. This consisted of a marvellous mixture of raunch, hilarity and tantric structures. I went with my friend, writer, Monique Roffey. She recounted one of our experiences during this week at the feast on the last night, in her memoir With The Kisses of His Mouth –‘A man was being carried in, on the shoulders of some of the cooks from the kitchen. He was brown and glistening. I stared, trying to train my eyes to see correctly. Yes. He was glistening – with chocolate. His body was prone, arms held outwards as if preparing for a crucifixion. His torso was laden with fruit. Mangoes and peaches, pears and strawberries. Blueberries. A majestic Himalaya of whipped cream rose up along the centre of his body, from neck to navel. His cock was decorated with baubles of passion fruit, cherries, meringue puffs, purple pansies. The second course was announced. Him. The young cook was dessert.’ The Spanish women got going first, but eventually, we, the English women got going too. We emerged with our faces smeared with shiny chocolate and laughing copiously.

Then the age of 60 appeared on the distant horizon and I decided it was time for a change. That it was time to put some of these workshop love tools into practice. That it was time for that elusive committed relationship. I’d tried Guardian Soul Mates and joined in with pretending to be ten years younger than I was. Which was oddly distressing. I met a shamanic lecturer with a wolf skin on his bedroom door and a litany of men where I went into journalist mode to cope with my own or their lack of interest. The internet didn’t work for me.

So I made the decision to invoke a man into my life. I did all the things that I swore I would never do. The same ever-willing woman friend, Jayne, spent time with me while I concocted a list of attributes for this future partner and our future relationship, and then, horror of self-help horrors, stuck it on my bedroom wall. That illustrates the level of my determination. Jayne also bought me a little sculpture of a man and a woman embracing lovingly, I put it the centre of my bedroom shrine of jewels, photos and shells.

Ah ha and then there was Carlos. Most of the tantric practitioners in London, I found out, frequented the extraordinary massage land that is Carlos’ home in Highgate. If you want to be prepared for a juicy sex life, Carlos is the masseur of choice. He is incredible. Unafraid of his animal self and yet entirely trustworthy not to cross any unwanted boundaries, every massage is a journey into the wild. I surrendered myself completely to the experience. I once half-opened one eye to witness my entire foot in his mouth. He is fearless. And it’s wonderful.

Finally, I’d heard about the seven day Path of Love from a psychotherapist friend. It’s a group process where you can choose the issue that you’d like to address during that week. I made my mind up that this would be an ideal place to face into all the shame that I felt around not having a committed relationship as well as the messed up attempts along the way. In a grand stately home in Wales, I threw myself into this task like long distance runner with my steely eye on the prize.

And yet the week was more about sinking into my heart than anything else. We moved our bodies a lot. We shook ourselves into presence. We shared courageously. We ate in silence. We danced our pain into oblivion. And we surrendered to prayer – the kind where we ask for help outside support. I became a soft ball of melted mush. My brain disappeared. Oh the divine pleasure of just being there in all my emotional nakedness.

Magically, all that invoking had an effect. The invincible summer of hope showed itself. The man appeared. He heard my call. He was actually on the staff (volunteers who have already done the process) at the Path of Love and we’re still together three years later. Although the actual getting into that relationship is another story in itself!

Rose’s little red book of workshops, massages, etc.

Malcolm Stern still runs his One Year Group, The Courage To Change – malcolmstern.com

The Hoffman Process – hoffmaninstitute.co.uk

Jan Day’s Passion, Power and Love and Living Tantra 1 – janday.com

Carlos’ massage – shaktiman.me.uk

The Path of Love – pathoflove.net

The Field of Love Summer Camp – 5th – 14th : Field of Love. Dorset

 

Surprise Me

Hear more from us

Subscribe to our newsletter