Hooking Up & Dating on CouchSurfing
Is dating and/or hooking up with people you meet on Couchsurfing ethical? You often hear the finger-wagging refrain that «Couchsurfing is NOT a dating site.» At the same time, you meet people who got together through Couchsurfing (I even met a couple who married after meeting on Couchsurfing) and many a Couchsurfer can regale you with tales of their sexual escapades with hosts and surfers alike. There are also the Couchsurfing meetups, where peeps get together for some drinks, a language exchange, or even a road trip; any member of couchsurfing. com can organize whatever kind of event they wish and whoever wants to participate can do so. Shockingly, sometimes people connect romantically through these things!
In my upcoming recently published book, there’s a section on something I call ‘the venue illusion’, which is this notion that we have ‘appropriate’ and ‘inappropriate’ places to connect with people. The bar and club industry would love for us to believe that their expensive, highly competitive environments are the ideal – preferably sole – place to meet somebody.
Yeah…because deafening music, dim lighting and getting trashed ALL serve that purpose wonderfully (ok…maybe that last one helps). But approaching a girl on the street, at a coffee shop, in a train, or gahd-fuhbid, a meetup of likeminded individuals, is somehow faux pas. The truth is, everywhere and anywhere is a wonderful place to meet somebody. We are fundamentally here on this earth to connect with one another and the specific arrangement of location, stated intent and other «conditions» are just illusions of the matrix.
For most people reading this, I’m stating the obvious. There’s only a small percentage of people who give a shit about who meets whom, how. I’ve actually found in my conversations with Couchsurfers that the overwhelming majority of them have no problem with people connecting through couchsurfing so long as the situation is comfortable.
If you’re hosting a Couch surfer at your pad, the overarching principle is comfort. The surfer MUST feel comfortable and NOT feel pressured or feel somehow ‘obliged’ to reciprocate a host’s hospitality. There are dudes our there who will host a cute girl, provide her with a hot shower and a dinner perhaps, and then make sexual overtures. That’s creepy, misleading and insulting. We all know the deal with Couchsurfing: it’s a free, karma-based system. By hosting others we get to enjoy their company, show them around our neck of the woods, and we also make a small deposit in the Karma bank. To host a girl (or guy for that matter) and expect some ass in return is NOT part of the deal.
People DO hook up. Guys who are successful with women outside of this community (or any specific community for that matter) are guys around whom women feel comfortable. In all likelihood, they’re not hosting people to GET something from them. There’s no agenda or ulterior motive. They’re doing it because they want to, because it makes them feel good, and because they may wish to surf in the future and would like a positive reputation to precede them wherever they may travel. If a cute girl happens to surf with a guy and they feel a strong chemistry, then God bless them both and may their loins connect with mutual delight! WHO CARES? But this is very different from expecting a girl to get freaky with a dude merely because he’s provided her shelter for the night, when the terms of him providing that shelter had nothing in them about intercourse. That’s called prostitution. Or marriage. Or, in poorer countries, prudence.
It’s the same thing as taking a girl out, buying her dinner and some drinks and expecting her to put out IN EXCHANGE for the meal. Women sense this motive and it makes them feel dirty. On the other hand, take a different kind of guy who takes a girl out and treats her because it’s what he likes to do and it doesn’t have anything to do with wanting something from her. He’s more interested in who she is than the fact that she has a vagina and lives under the same norms of reciprocity as the rest of us. In other words, most men who are successful with women (and who women actually like and respect) look for inherent value in people and evaluate them based on what kind of human beings they are.
It’s interesting…one of the things I’m writing a lot about in the book is what defines a man. If you watch American movies made in the 1950’s, the male protagonists are typically deeply moral men. It’s true that mens’ morals vary but the important thing is to have them, to decided one’s OWN morals and to live by them consistently. That’s why we can simultaneously revile and respect characters like Scarface, who, while a murderer, refused to involve women and children as part of his business’s collateral damage, and always kept his word. He had a flawed but consistent integrity.
There’s also a much more basic issue at hand that governs these dynamics, and it has to do with being the type of guy who women feel comfortable being around. No amount of explaining the explicit or implicit rules around hooking up with Couchsurfers will transform a guy who puts women on edge into someone girls can relax around. That requires becoming a different type of guy.
I know a lot of guys also reject couch requests from dudes and only host chicks. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with cherrypicking your surfers to be cute girls but again, they have to feel comfortable and there musn’t be any pressure on them coming from you. Many men, myself included, prefer the company of attractive women to just about anybody else. Girls smell better, they’re incredibly interesting, they’re savvy, they’re open, they’re just amazing creatures to be around! The key here is that women feel comfortable when they can tell a man really loves women and appreciates them without any agenda. The appreciation is fulfilling in and of itself.
Surfing with people is cool. It’s a lesson in humility and respect. You’re usually at the mercy of the prevailing winds that blow in those people’s lives and you’ll find yourself in all sorts of interesting situations. You’ll go to parties, out to dinner, all over cities and neighborhoods you’ve never been to and more. You may even find that you have a mutual attraction with a host. In that case, what’s the decorum? Again, I think this is a respect issue but even more fundamentally, it’s a calibration issue. You can put two male surfers in the same situation with an attractive female host who thinks he’s cute and one will blow it while the other will connect and perhaps share something special with his host. It’s not «I’m a surfer, you’re a host.» It’s «I’m a human, you’re a human.» and «I’m a man, you’re a woman.» And therein lies the rub, uhh.. so to speak.
A lot of guys are worried about their reputation on the site getting tarnished by a bad review from a girl and I understand that concern. However, so long as you do what you do from a core place of authenticity, openness and a lack of presumption AND make that your default way of moving through the world, you will NEVER have to be afraid of ‘making a mistake’ or ‘offending’ a woman.
Imagine you’re couchsurfing in Medellín, Colombia (aka, the land of super feminine girls). Your host speaks charmingly funky but perfectly intelligible English. She’s a gorgeous girl of 21, with long black hair and dark brown eyes who lives alone (not common in Colombia but suspend disbelief for a second). She’s wearing a red dress (with matching lipstick) that hugs a rockin’ body shaped by years of dancing. Oh, and she smells like flowers. You guys go out on the town, dance some Salsa and she shows you around her neighborhood. You get back to her place and sit on the couch together. She’s giving you this look…haciendo ojos…and your gut says «go for it!» but your so-called logical brain interrupts you with: «WAIT! You’re a couchsurfer, this is against policy dammit!» and then this cockblocking cortex of yours begins to extrapolate a million ways in which this could go wrong and screw you on the site or make things awkward during your stay. Ah logical brain, you are but a naive grasshopper compared to the all-knowing penis.
If people approached this thing maturely and intuitively, there would be no issue. But then I wouldn’t have anything to write about! The irony is that guys who aren’t all hellbent on boinking their hosts or surfers typically wind up doing so more often. In closing, I’ve met a lot of wonderful human beings through Couchsurfing. I hope you have/do, too. You might do the big wiggle with a Couchsurfer on occasion and that’s no crime. We all need a couch to surf from time to time just as our hearts and bodies need some love from time to time. Let’s keep things honest and authentic and this community will continue to thrive.