Shared beds!

Does anyone have any experience, good or bad, with sharing beds with hosts when couchsurfing.
Shared bed was an option to tick when looking for a host.
A lonely, sex-starved host actively seeking a single surfer to go to the pub and drink with and then share a bed - what could possibly go wrong.
Or would having the shared bed option be a really good thing to also adopt in couchers.org?

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Another great question. Here are a few things that come to mind when I think of people being able to indicate that they are offering a “shared sleeping space”:

  1. Some people have very limited space but would still like to host, so they can only offer a shared sleeping space.
  2. Giving people the ability to advertise a “shared sleeping space” is inherently suggestive to some people.
  3. Shared sleeping spaces increase the likelihood of unwanted physical interaction.

My opinion is this: While I understand #1 above, I think the potential downsides outweigh the benefits, so I think we should not give people the ability to indicate that they are offering a shared sleeping surface.

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I agree that having a shared sleeping surface can lead to unwanted advances, or suggest them, but I really think surfers who are uncomfortable sharing a sleeping surface should be able to see which hosts have that, so they can avoid it. Rather than showing up to a host’s home and finding out then that there is just one sleeping surface they have to share. We should arm people to be able to be more descriptive, not less.

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Good point. Perhaps we should make it clear from the start that shared sleeping surfaces are not allowed at all. My personal opinion is that if you don’t have some kind of sleeping surface separate from your own (a couch, bed, mattress, floor space, etc) to offer guests, then you should not be hosting.

Having the “no shared sleeping surfaces” rule could still allow for some edge cases (“I was already hosting X number of people and couldn’t fit anymore people in my apartment, but John said he was okay sharing my bed with me so I offered him a spot anyway”).

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How about just having a “Bring your own” or “Your sleeping bag” option, instead of shared bed? That comes up frequently anyways.

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Mentioning shared bed shouldn’t be allowed, not because it’s wrong (it’s not), but because it creates incentives that will change the demographics of the community in a negative way as you can imagine if you have CS experience.

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I like this alternative! Let’s people know the host doesn’t have that extra sleeping surface while taking the focus off of sharing a sleeping surface.

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During a pandemic, it would be unsafe to share beds. The option to wear a face mask during sleep would be impractical.

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Yeah, that’s the most elegant workaround imo. We couldn’t effectively forbid shared surfaces anyway, but by making this the default we wouldn’t suggest the idea to anyone who didn’t think of it in the first place.

In all my years of surfing I haven’t had any host who actually suggested a shared bed, though I’ve often shared a bed with my travel mate/s (sometimes laying in opposite direction if we had two pillows, and head-to-head if not). Bringing your own sleeping bag, and in some cases even a tent for the garden, is the reasonable default if no room was available but still bathroom or dinner as far as my anecdotal evidence is concerned.

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Maybe I am too old and have seen the more liberal times than the new youth, but sharing a bed for sleeping purpose was pretty much a standard when having spontaneous overnight guests in my youth when there was not always that much space available, so I don’t think it is wrong as long as people do not abuse it. As a CS host I have at times offered my bed as an alternative to sleeping on the floor when there has been a considerable number of guests already, but I never offered it as a sole alternative, so the surfer always had an option to opt for something else, too.

Same, if the “shared bed” option is mentioned by the host BEFORE surfer arrives to his/her place and both trust each other enough or are otherwise comfortable with the solution, I don’t see any point in banning it, either. Live and let live, so to say.

On the other hand, offering a shared bed and using it for physical/sexual advances without prior elaboration and agreement is an absolute violation of both community TOS and the mutual trust between the host and the surfer and should lead to person being excluded from the community.

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As I understand it, even if it’s agreed to in advance, this would be a violation of the ToU since Couchers is explicitly not for dating or hookups. Of course things might happen naturally on their own in certain situations and that isn’t prohibited. But posting suggestive information in your profile related to hookups/dating (eg: “I like massages, especially ones with happy ends :wink:”) or using the platform for hookups or dating is strictly prohibited.

Having said that, I think in many cases it’s hard to determine “intent”. I worry that adding a “shared sleeping surface” option would muddy the waters even further (and leave things open to interpretation on a topic we want to be very clear about).

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I know some cases where sharing sleeping surface could be natural, so I would not exclude this option. It is important also to say if sharing sleeping surface is for anyone or just for someone.
In my house I have one single and 3 double beds for my guests so i say “7 guests”. It they are 5 what I should say ?

I believe “shared surface” means shared with host, not with another guest

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This is why I like the idea to have a photo of the sleeping space or area. A picture is worth a thousand words, so to speak. Even though my room is shared (as my sleeping area is around a nook and I provide a barrier between to separate the room for privacy) I make it crystal clear
in my profile and when I respond to the request.

“Shared space” is a bit broad, but on the other side I would never jump to the “shared bed” conclusion if I read it.

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During my years at C.S. as in B.W. T.R, etc … due to the size of my house I have always shared my bed, which is a large size and every time I have had a guest that has been more than 40 I have never had problems or had sex.
In my profile it is well indicated that the bed is shared and I have never had problems in that regard.
I think that reading the previous comments there is a quite puritanical current and with many prejudices.

We will definitely be adding the ability to upload a photo of your couch and home so that people know what the space looks like where they will be sleeping.

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Apologies for the long “essay”, because I have thought about and experienced it often

As a couch surfer with first hand experience on having seen both sides of shared sleeping surfaces (and it’s not just the bed, sometimes it can be the floor or something else as well), while hosting and while surfing, I would like to implore the decision makers to rethink it, with respect to many different aspects.

  • Limited space issue
    For a long time, even thoughI wanted to, I felt shy of hosting people because of the very limited space had back then. Had it not been through the encouragement of a long time Couchsurfer, I would have never hosted people and began my life’s transformation, lliterally, through Couchsurfing. Since then I have run into situations many a time, where people really don’t have spaces, except for a shared sleeping surface and they mean no ill intentions by it.

  • Culture
    In many cultures around the world, it’s perfectly fine for people to be sharing surfaces and it’s even a dishonor for the host if the guest has to sleep on the floor. Many a times when I could, I even let my guests take the bed to themselves and slept myself on the floor or some such. So, if indeed, the aim here is to build a global community, then the mindset needs to be widened and become inclusive.

  • Safety
    Although very rarely, but there have been instances in the community where the hosts have found some things stolen or disappeared from the house in a bad experience, which makes them wary of newish people with less references. So a way for them is to share the room with their guest and many a times, that would entail sharing the sleeping surface as well.

  • Roommates
    Sometimes when people have roommates, maybe hosts cannot offer a common space and hence they share a room, which would again, sometimes, translate to sharing a sleeping surface. Very common with students, who can be a big and enthusiastic part of the community.

  • The problems with shared surfaces
    Much has been discussed about why there’s a problem with it, and there’s definitely no denying that. And I have heard some horrid stories from other Couchsurfers, but it isn’t always just related to a shared sleeping surface. Of some advance is going to be made my someone, it will be made and that’s the sad reality of it. Sure, a sleeping surface as suggested by many, would give an “indication” in some way, but then, as a product manager, I would say that the problem needs to be solved in some other way.

  • Maybe a better and safe space for guests to secretly write about how safe they felt with the sleeping surface or if the host’s request seemed unfounded. And showing this data on the person’s profile only after receiving n number of reviews. Eg: “78% out of X people felt safe with the sleeping arrangement”. Allowing optional demographic element on it, Eg: “78% of female identifying surfers…”
  • Imposing temporary and eventually permanent ban on users for repeatedly being reported X amount of times
  • Allowing option for surfers to seek emergency help through the app very easily in case something goes terribly wrong. Local police number, SOS button where local community members are notified and can help out or suggest solutions.
  • Removing the fear of negative reviews to newer surfers by marking such negative instance references as Positive / Negative / “unconfirmed” status on the surfers profile until another surfer also puts a negative reference for the same host. After which it is turned Neutral or Positive. (Reference statuses are a total tooic in themselves, but I’ll not get into it in depth here :))

From what I have gathered, showing a shared sleeping surface actually helps more surfers to avoid sending requests by filtering it out, than the other side of things. It helps to avoid the shock of finding it out last minute which could be a big problem and people could get away with - “Oh! I didn’t have an option to mention he shared sleeping surface”. The system should be built in a way where people who are indeed not in the spirit of Couchsurfing eventually should end up with a bad profile and be exited out of the community based on certain parameters.
It could somehow even appear to be from a sense of high place, to make this decision of not showing a “Shared sleeping surface” option. Even though the intention might be positive, everyone here is (I am hoping) an adult, can handle themselves in most situations, and in the off-chance of the possibility of a bad experience, be able to feel that they can rely on the community and seek help. But in no way should this right of knowing that there’s going to be a shared sleeping surface, be snatched from the surfers, would be my strong opinion.

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This should be the beginning and the end of the discussion. For every one well-intentioned but cramped host you accommodate with a shared-surface option, you are actively soliciting, and will get, 100 predators.

It’s neither ethnocentric nor closed-minded to acknowledge the truth that a site like this cannot be everything to everybody, and that trying to do so will mean paving an express lane to failure.

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An idea for if we want to accommodate the population of “cramped hosts:” Could we add an additional option besides “Sleeping privacy” that is called “sleeping surface?” That could have the options of:

  • bed/futon
  • couch, and
  • floor/BYOS (bring your own surface).

So, by default, if someone does not have any other surface than the their bed (e.g. college dorm room) they should select “Shared Room” for sleeping privacy setting and “floor/BYOS” as the surface setting. At minimum these hosts should have enough floor space for the guest to bring a sleeping bag.

To people who have brought up the predator argument: does the above idea sound like an potential solution, or could it be easily* abused?

*more easily than the Shared Room and Private Room options

Incidentally thinking of shared surface, a real case: a room used as playground for small children, with a futon on all its surface, confortable to sleep on it. 35 m² for 5 people.
Actually it is a shared surface.but how would you considerate, given that anyone has much more space ans separation than in a dormitory ? (toyboxes were plied in a way to make 6 separate areas)