"Are Londoners allergic to me?" asks an Australian expat, who goes on to set out, "Why it's hard to make friends with locals."
There's an abundance of similar articles, so it seems there may be a grain of truth in the claim that London is one of the unfriendliest cities in the world. It might be why a plethora of friendship apps have sprung up, including Patook, City Socializer and Meetup.
Even classifieds site Craigslist has a 'Strictly Platonic' section, for those looking for something a bit more PG than their 'Casual Encounters' listings.
The Strictly Platonic ads run the gamut from guys looking for someone to watch the football with, to married men looking for female theatre companions, to a man who wants to buy a woman shoes.
Then there are the ads at the odder end of the spectrum, such as a guy who wants a partner in crime to join him in wetting himself on Hampstead Heath, a man who wants to put someone under house arrest, and a dude with daddy issues who wants a young woman to pretend to be his daughter. Yep, most of the ads are placed by men.
A guy who wants a partner in crime to join him in wetting himself on Hampstead Heath.
Adrian, whose ad is entitled "Warm friendly hello" is 29 and would like someone to socialise with. He explains, "I thought it would be a way to get to know new people. Sometimes we're so busy with life — when I'm available, my friends aren't. It's hard to find a suitable time for everyone." Adrian, who says he is single and straight, has specified in his ad that he would like to meet a woman. Is he looking for friendship, or something more? "Friends, and if anything did start, my mind is open."
Growing up in London, Adrian says his friends have started to move away and he wants to meet people to go for a drink, "or could be a museum, or a gallery, or movies." So far, he's received one response: "I can't tell if it’s spam or not. It said 'go to this website for verification' but I went there and it wasn't good content." How optimistic is he of getting a genuine response – does he think women might be wary? "I know some people will wonder, 'can I trust this person?' I wouldn't blame them — I think women are more vigilant. I just hope we can get to know each other." Would he genuinely be happy to be friends — no sex, no snogging? "Yeah, literally just friends!"
Daniel's requirements are more niche. "Wrestle me and win cash" says his ad. The 42 year old, who lives in south London, sets out his terms from the start: "We will wrestle semi competitive style with 5 minute rounds. Over 30-60 minute period or whoever gets to 10 submissions first." His ad is aimed at women, but he clarifies: "I am not looking to beat up a woman… there definitely will be no punching or kicking, biting or hair pulling. It's not a catfight, just straight up grappling/wrestling. Extreme cuddling if you like."
Daniel explains to us where his interest stems from: "It all started when I was younger. I see World in Action, a TV show back in the '80s. A woman was wrestling with a man and beat him. A light went on inside me — I was young, only seven or eight at the time. It fascinated me and scared me."
He never went to wrestling sessions, "to me, wrestling with a guy would be just too weird,” but he's wrestled about 20 women, including friends, girlfriends and one woman from Craigslist. Is it a turn-on? "Yes," he says, "that's why I couldn't wrestle a man." Does it ever lead to anything more? "No - unless it's with my girlfriend. She is loyal, so I have to be." He adds, "the lady I met through Craigslist, it may have ended up like that — I was getting that vibe but I just couldn't do that.
"Wrestling is one thing, the other is something else entirely."
Is that why he chose to place his ad in the Strictly Platonic section? "I’m not sure – at the time I posted it, it seemed like the right place."
A woman was wrestling with a man and beat him... it fascinated me and scared me.
Daniel's ad states, "A leotard or swimsuit would be ideal attire to wrestle in." What does Daniel wear? "A wrestling singlet – it's shorts and vest in one." If wrestling turns him on, does he worry about getting an erection? "I have thought about that. Wearing spandex, it's hard to hide, but in the heat of a wrestling match you’re not really thinking about it."
He engages in recognised wrestling holds: "Mainly head scissors, body scissors. A few pro moves like Boston crabs, lots of headlocks — it's got to be competitive but in a fun way." Where would he do this with someone from Craigslist? "We'd hire a mat room out — it's solely for wrestling and run by a woman who has a wrestling club."
The wrestling, says Daniel, is "a fetish, definitely." He says, "it's so much fun, feeling the power of the woman." Does the enjoyment come from being over-powered by a strong woman, or the physical proximity, for example, if she's crushing his head between her legs? "A mix of all that!" he says.
There are 'session wrestlers' (women who wrestle for money) but Daniel says that although Craigslist is hit and miss, he'd rather use that, because paying session wrestlers, "takes the dairy off of it."
Daniel's girlfriend knows he likes wrestling but, "we don't engage in it. We did when we got together but it sort of fizzled out." Now he posts ads, offering £150 prize money to any victor. "I think the focus is money, definitely," he admits, "most of the replies talk about the money. One woman told me she couldn't wrestle but offered sex instead." However, the woman he actually met up with, "wasn't interested in the money — she just wanted to wrestle.
"She wasn't experienced, but she'd studied some YouTube videos and her legs were immensely strong — it was a no-brainer if she caught me with them." She won eight matches to two, and turned down the prize money — they plan to wrestle again.
Tom's headline is, "A good man but married and bored." At 48, he says, "the situation I'm in is OK, but I'm not particularly happy. I'm looking for someone who's in the same position, to share those feelings with and maybe meet up."
He has been married for 20 years and his children are in their teens. "They've grown up, so the missus and I are left looking at each other like, 'what the fuck do we do now?' You get to that stage in life where you think, 'is this it?' I'm sure there's millions of married people out there, at a point in their life where they're reassessing."
Is Tom looking purely for friendship, or something more? "It's difficult, because I haven't been in a physical relationship for a long time. Everything disappears when you have kids — they're in the next room to us. It gets to the point where you start thinking, 'I need an intimate relationship again.' But not necessarily with the person I'm with. I’m still fairly young and I think I'm quite attractive still — I want to see if there's something out there."
If I wanted to have a shag, I'd go and have a shag. Friends would be fine for now.
How did Tom decide to post in the Strictly Platonic section of Craigslist? "I’m in a relationship, so it's safer. The other sections are full of nutters and weird stuff. I think people in the Platonic section are looking for something real — they're more earnest."
"If I wanted to have a shag, I'd go and have a shag. Friends would be fine for now." Has he considered using a dating or friendship app? "I guess I'm pretty nervous about putting myself out there, when I'm married and I've got children. If I was to do that, I think I'd want to separate first. That's going to take a lot of working out."
Simon's eye-catching headline is: "Trot your horses over me." His ad asks, "ever wondered if your horse would step on someone's hand? Or squash them a little with its flank? Contact me and find out. Big heavy draft horses preferred. But really any mount will do."
Simon is 27, single and straight. Have horses trotted over him before? "Unfortunately not. I've spoken with a few riders but they've all decided against it in the end — it's always been either fear of killing me, or damaging their mounts." Does he worry about his own safety? "I know what that kind of weight will do to me. I offer them the chance of trampling me while I'm lying underneath something soft, or beneath a board in a shallow ditch I've made. Or they could lean their mount into me, or sit it back on me at an angle."
What's the appeal? "I've been trampled many times by people and I wanted to ramp it up." Simon says being trampled is one of his many fetishes and explains, "I view my place in this world as beneath others, whether it's massaging their feet, cleaning their homes, being used for chores, being trampled or eating trampled food. I'm there to be walked over or used."
Does the idea of being trampled by a horse turn him on? "The thought of it does, the act I'm not sure about as I've never done it. But my other fetishes turn me on, and acting them out also turn me on, so I suspect it would." Does he hope it would lead to sex between him and the horse rider, or would he masturbate afterwards? "I would probably masturbate afterwards. I imagine at the time it would be a very intense thing — I'd need to focus to keep myself from ending up with my balls under a hoof." Does he hope it would turn the rider on? "It would be good if it did, but if it didn't and they were simply curious about the experience, I'd be OK with that too."
I'd need to focus to keep myself from ending up with my balls under a hoof.
Why has Simon placed his ad in the Strictly Platonic section? "I had hoped it would pique the interest of actual riders who frequent the site, not simply those who are looking to scam others." Simon has had no response to his listing in the Platonic section. He has received responses via duplicates of his ad in other sections of Craigslist — unfortunately, they haven't led to anything.
Does Simon have anywhere in mind for a horse to trot over him, should someone agree? "That would depend on where the rider was — I wouldn't expect them to travel. I'd go to where they were and scout the area. There may be a riding trail nearby, or a closed off field. If they wanted deniability of any issues, we could arrange a predefined spot and I would bury myself there in a shallow recess."
So they could pretend they knew nothing about it, and avoid legal action in the case of an accident? "Indeed."
All names have been changed.
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