People using Couchsurfing for dating/hookups/casual sex

If the sad decline in number of female hosts on CS wasn’t enough proof, you need only look at the distribution of signups we’d had so far to see that this is indeed very true. There are far less women signing up then men; far less women on the forums, and less women on the volunteers team. It’s not that we want it this way, it’s just that a lot of women have given up on or are already skeptical of the concept because of all the bad experiences they’ve had or heard of others having.

We need to signal that we have considered the issues women face carefully when building up It can’t be something that we just gloss over, because it may eventually become almost exclusionary, like CS has: “you have to be brave/tough enough to potentially refuse the advances of your host if you use this platform.” I have heard myself saying that to women who are interested in CS, and it sucks to have to say.


You’re absolutely right, thanks for your long post.

The CS couples I’m thinking of were exactly like you described, hosting first and meeting up later. I agree that dating shouldn’t be the priority nor the expectation, I just didn’t want a stigma on the people that got quite happily together – coincidentally via CS, not by using it as a means.

Where I disagree for now: I don’t think there’s a much better way to combat people who come off as creeps but are practically harmless than through a better, more critical reference culture.

What would you like as a reaction from the site if a guest or surfer were hitting on you?

Rather than having to read between the lines for obtuse gaps in what’s said I’d have this stated in that bloke’s reference outright. Amongst all the hosts I’ve head I could think of two or three that I definitely wouldn’t recommend to girl friends – all of them with nothing but glowing references at the time. But that’s something I think we need to establish as a culture right from the start, it’s hard to enforce through rules.

Absolutely on board with this.


How about opening a dedicated category to the topic, that can hold several threads? To me it’s already difficult to keep focus when one post is about message spamming, the next wants to talk about dangerous folks, one about how to respond to unwelcome advances irl and the next about prevention and culture in general.

I think it’s good to have strong opinions, especially on this topic, but if no one feels properly heard, the discussion will get heated without clear purpose.

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Hey Nolo! I think you might be right! This is a really multifaceted issue, and having its own category might be warranted. Will have a brainstorm and figure out a good way to organize all the ideas in this thread. Thanks for the suggestion!

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So you’re saying that of course it exists, but since it doesn’t happen to you, it shouldn’t be addressed. How cute. You are exactly the problem, because you are the kind of guy that enables assholes, and of course you think it doesn’t happen that often: no woman would seek help on someone with such self centered mentality.

I’m sorry but I’m not ok with this type of mentality. I won’t be patronized when I’m stating a problem that has certainly been measured by sociologists and law inforcement all over the world. And I don’t know this guy in particular, but I do know the type: guys that say it’s not a problem are usually the ones doing it, and they don’t think it’s a big deal and woman (or males or trans or whatever) should just shrug it off and move on. Wellp: I’m f*ing tired of shrugging it off and moving on. And I actually feel upset, and uncomfortable by this bs and don’t feel like engaging in the forum that much anymore. See? That’s how you get less and less woman in this platforms: only another woman called on this. The rest just played it cool. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m not a kid, I know how to defend myself, but I’ve also have been through a lot of shit. And I’m tired. And I don’t want this kind of attitude to be ok in spaces I am part of. I’m not wanting to be partbof a community that let’s someone get away with saying “this is not a real problem, guys don’t do that, you need to shrug it of amd taughen up”. Not cool.
Sorry for the long (and angry) reply :woman_shrugging::purple_heart:


After some consideration of all of the above issues and proposals, I have one of my own that may work (it’s pretty low maintenance) I am also skeptical that much can be done about sex pests in real life, but as far as limiting their involvement in the platform, you could establish an Uber style rating system.

Everyone starts with a certain amount of stars or points or whatever and all of their sent messages are open to anonymous rating. That way, any individual could only send a certain amount of “hey there beautiful” messages before they lose their points and get removed from the platform. Sex pests would be quickly eliminated and the anonymity would aid in reducing ‘revenge review’ shenanigans. Feasible? To me it would be far easier to institute than an AI filter.

You could make it less severe by giving the sender of such messages a warning everytime they lost points or stars or whatever.

I just want to say that I for one am extremely glad you’re here, and hope you’ll keep expressing your honest experiences and ideas. I’m sorry that no one from the core team has clearly made a stand against this mentality/behavior yet, but trust me, we are not ignoring it. I think we’re still in a stage where we are building our identity. In parallel, we want to provide a platform for everyone to voice their opinions so that we know what we agree and disagree with, and understand the people in our community better.

Personally, I’m happy to let these discussions play out because it gives insight about the problems we’re going to be tackling and how best we can tackle them.

I can’t speak for everyone on the volunteers team, but I take this issue extremely seriously and I am advocating for us!


Thanks for the reply. I know. The people in here seems pretty nice.

I personally thing it´s not a problem that can be fixed only by the mods/volunteers side, so I´m not putting that on you guys. I think this is a cultural problem that all of us, as a community, need to adress. In this or any platform. For this kind of issues (sexism, racism, homofophia) the only solution is a colective response against it. I mean: if someone was to say “well racism is a small problem that hasn´t been meassured by sociologists, and my black friends know how to deal with it so people just need to shugg it off” that would be a scandal. So people that think like that auto expell themselves from the community. The same rule should apply to sexism. And to homophobia, and trasnphobia, and so on. Or the community as a whole rejects this, or we will continue to have issues.



We have updated our forum rules to include:

  1. We do not tolerate opinions that deny the experiences of others, especially when related to issues of sexism, racism and homophobia that are prevalent on hospex platforms.

@antoniob your comments here are attempting to invalidate the experience of women, not only in a couch-surfing context, but also in general. The issue is in no way “certainly minor”. Any future comments you make in this vein will be deleted. You can see just here how they can have a damaging effect in the community.

@Aleja I’m sorry it took us this long to say something. Reducing these issues to make the couch-surfing experience more accessible and safe (especially for women) is an absolute priority for us. I really hope that you will continue to participate and help shape the direction in which we’re heading.


Thanks @itsi . I appeciate it.

Once again: I belive more in naming and shaming than in blocking and deleting. I found it more… educational. People need to learn that others do not agree with nor supports their vision so they can quention themselves. A block or delete feels to unilateral and from above. Pairs are the ones that set the bar in real life =) But I do appeciate the support and response a lot. Thank you.


This is… sensitive territory. I honestly don’t think that anyone here is truly suggesting this issue should go unaddressed. I do think that some people, myself included, have some reservations on some proposed solutions due to what they/we believe can be realistically achieved (and what can not be)
A solution that doesn’t achive anything but sounds politically correct for the sake of political correctness will only serve to be a turn-off to normal users. CS’s unsupported “policies” on sexual harassment only annoyed people, especially women that I have met that had been harassed on the platform. A mission statement is something you do when you want to say you have addressed an issue but don’t intend on actually doing anything.

A recent CS facebook post regarding the BLM movement rang of hollow virtue signally to me and many others. Me myself, I am not white, but I am hesitant to promote any anti-racism policies or mechanisms on any proposed hospex platform. Why? Firstly, I don’t think any platform could ever gaurd me from racism and secondly, I feel it undermines my ability to handle it out there in the world. I never looked to CS to nanny me through my travels - we are not children. As guests, we are adult travellers, as hosts, we are adult homemakers.

Of course, I feel that if I reported racist behaviour to the platform, there should be consequences for the racist. An investigation - expulsion if there was credible evidence to the legitamicy of my claim. Just as I would expect any report of sexual harassment should be throughly investigated and dealt with. But as far as automatic expulsion goes (or any other knee jerk reaction) I feel it creates other issues - What about those that may cry wolf for personal reasons?

See, this is the kind of knee-jerk reaction I feel you should avoid. To me, @antoniob’s comment was just his own honest appraisal of the situation. Why I do not feel sexual harassment is a ‘minor’ problem, I did not necessarily feel as though he was trying to deny anyones experience, I felt he just had a slightly less uptopian idea of what can be done to remedy it. I personally find it more realistic than some other ones that can be found here. Does that mean I am also denying their experiences?

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I think he was entirely suggesting that it should go unaddressed

I also think it’s tricky to have an own, honest appraisal of a situation you’ve never really experienced, which is why I think he may have ended up at the conclusion that it was a bit of a non-issue.

It is absolutely denying experience to call those issues ‘certainly minor’. It is not denying experience to question the effectiveness of the methods we’re trying to implement to address them. I hope that’s clear.

I think you know my thoughts largely agree with yours in terms of prioritising platform design over just having policy documents (which obviously didn’t work in CS’s case), but I honestly don’t believe in this case that it’s just a ‘politically correct’ reaction. We have a goal here which is to make the platform safer for women, and that can’t be achieved effectively without listening to women. These kinds of opinions turn people away as you can see, and so we need effective moderation in a forum setting.

btw you should check out our proposed community standing system and how it will impact safety. It’s very much similar to what you’re describing


Hi Frleon, thank you so much for your reply I really appreciate your words.

Oh ok yes I totally agree, I didn’t realise “this is not a dating app” could be interpreted as “you may not date or have any intimate relations from anyone you meet on this app ever” :joy: I meant the intention of using the app FOR dating. So perhaps this needs to be expressed differently.

Also sorry for targeting your post, you just had some good quotes that I could address but I was referring to some attitudes expressed by other posters as well.

I think these “harmless” people (although we can never know for sure who is harmless and who is not for sure, as we are meeting complete strangers here), I believe some perspective on the impact of using the app to meet foreign women for sex/dating, (i.e. that it is a widespread problem and how it makes the app very hard for most women to use) would make the harmless people think very differently about using the app for this purpose, and also how they interact with people on the app in general. As of now I can’t think of anything that would make most people think this is not ok, and this I think is due to the lack of awareness on the negative effects of this. I for one would feel much more comfortable giving a guy a poor review for making a move on me if I knew he had actually known beforehand that this wasn’t ok. Relying on negative reviews addresses the problem only one individual at a time (very inefficient) and is more likely to be met with defensiveness and anger (as they had been completely unaware that they were doing anything wrong, and doesn’t give people the chance to go “oh, this isn’t about me, I would never do that :eyes:”).

Again, I would prefer this would not happen to begin with, for many people it could be prevented by some simple education. But if when it does, if the site could send a message saying WHY this made me uncomfortable and WHY it is a big problem it may prevent them from trying it on with another person. And then if this behaviour was not ceased for them to be banned. But I don’t see why this information should not be available before these things happen.

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Fair points. I only considered @antoniob’s comment within the context of existing hospex platforms. On other platforms, there are implicit ramifications to making an unwanted pass at someone and getting kicked out / ejecting someone. You’d get a bad reference at a minimum, would struggle to ever make another connection on the platform or even ejected from the platform if it was more serious. Sexual harrasment, in this sense, is addressed, just not as blatently as some may prefer, but what can be achieved is built into the system. I found your reply skirting the edge of the current cancel culture that I personally find a turn off but hey, I might be the dinosaur here.

Just read the community standing page and you’re right, it is very similar to what I had in my head. I still don’t know how the proposed publicly accessible rating system avoids the revenge review dynamic.

“We destigmatize negative reviews by moving the goalposts from expecting everyone to be 100% as it is in Couchsurfing™ to putting people around 60-80% on average.”

I still don’t see how that destigmatization is going to be achieved. How are the scoring goalposts actually being moved? Basically, if you host me, are friendly and decent, don’t rape or beat me, I’m giving you 100%. If we don’t jive on some level, say we are politically opposed or have different levels of swearing in our speech patterns, I’ll give you… 100%. Why? Because the world is filled with different kinds of people and who am I to say “if they’ve done something wrong”? Who knows, maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m hypersensitive or simply more sensitive to something than they are. They still let me into their homes and I walked away unharmed with a new experience. Some experiences are better than others and if you think you can design a platform that filters out less than ideal experiences, forget hospex, run for president of the world.

But who’s to say which party needs the education? I agree with many of your points and suggestions but not this one. Does that mean I should I be named and shamed? People that hold views like that are the reason people like me have names like XpXnx. Additionally, we are not hiring an Uber. Even if it were possible, would you want to hang out a person on a hospex platform that had the super-fake, super nice disposition of an Uber driver?
Me, when I travel, I want to meet real people. When I host, I want people to be comfortable enough to be themselves, I want to get to know them. A platform that sacrifices that basic tenant in the name of

will not be long for this world in my opinion. The community standing page floats three questions -

  1. Would you recommend this person to other members?
  2. Does this individual contribute positively to the community?
  3. Did this person talk or act in any way that made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable?

If a person recieved many negative replies to those questions, do you really want them on the platform?

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That’s not necessarily the case. Maybe you’ve heard of r/niceguys, but if you haven’t… it shows men acting aggressive or rude about any kind of rejection from women in particular. So sadly, a lot of times, we just put up with it and walk away without saying anything, just to protect ourselves or save ourselves from the retaliation. Or worse, because we don’t want to look weak.

I wish it were that black and white, I really do. But sometimes, people just make you feel so uncomfortable, even though they didn’t do anything “wrong,” perse. I have lost count of how many times I wanted to leave a “not positive” reference because of some weird flirty comments or creepy suggestions. But it’s really hard to do that when many of us have been conditioned to just shrug it off.

If I could anonymously say “this guy made me uncomfortable” and it would affect his score anonymously, on the other hand, that really changes things - at least for me.

Edit: Wording

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Where are the forum rules btw? I thought it’s /tos but didn’t find this there or elsewhere.

They’re here! Forum discussion rules

You are completely missing the point for the sake of winning an argument. I was never talking about not having differences. I’m talking about basic human decency and respect. And whoever doesn’t have those two, should definitely be named and shamed. Believing sexism and harassment is “not a big issue” is disrespectful and other things that I won’t name.

If you want to play the devils advocate, go ahead, but let’s get real for a minute: you’re a decent guy, we met on FB and you were very nice. Does it mean everyone is? Nope. I’d give a 100% positive to someone who doesn’t share my political views… to an extent. If their political views are discriminatory or derogatory to certain groups, I wouldn’t. There is, actually, a limit to tolerance. I won’t tolerate intolerant beliefs.

I’ll say this one more time: I don’t believe the platform or its tools can prevent discrimination or harassment. That’s a lost cause. But I do believe in community, and in shared values, and on the colective stand to set the bar. I think a hospitality exchange group of people should share values of equity and inclusion and respect above all things.

I think some of you are forgetting that this is supposed to be a global community, and as such, cultural shock when in comes to the flirting/dating/hookup/hitting on someone/etc can be VERY big. Specially for woman. I’ve seen girls cry because they got overwhelmed for guys doing things that in my culture are somewhat accepted as normal. We need those girls to feel safe and know there’s a high standard on the community as a whole (not only on the tools, but in people’s values and how the people around you in the community react when someone crosses the line).

Are dates gonna happen? Suuuuure. We are human beings meeting other human beings. It’s statistics. But we should have standards as a community that make people think twice before acting on them without even having a signal of approval from the counterpart. We need to make people approaching this as a dating pool feel unwelcomed.


I completely agree with these points, and going forward, I believe we will do our best to make sure that message gets across - not only here on the forum, but in our communications about the platform and what it stands for.


@Eileen, thanks for the kind words! I don’t think we differ at all in what we want: Encouraging women no less than men to travel happily, to travel safely and to not be afraid to dive into the adventure out there. I’m having it easier as a guy (I couldn’t say: unfortunately; it’s only unfortunate that you and others have it harder) and so there are some problems I just can’t think of. I’m pretty hostile to the model of “you can’t understand an issue you’re not having first-hand”; but to understand something still requires me to learn about it, so thanks to you, @Aleja, @Emily and others for raising questions I simply wouldn’t have thought of.

On the constructive side I’d point to the reference thread. Similar things discussed there.