As difficult as people say it is to find love in the 21st century, it's pretty easy to get laid. You can take the traditional route and try your luck at a club or a bar. You can thirst-fave Twitter and Instagram posts. Or you can stick to the Tinders and OkCupids of the world, websites and applications specifically designed to aid and abet casual hookups.
But while dating apps and websites might help people find lasting connections in the digital world, there are those who are looking for less formal, less polite ways to hook up. That might be why we've seen the rise of the no-nonsense hookup forums on Reddit.
In addition to offering subreddits for topics from wrestling to comic books to decades-old computer real-time strategy games, Reddit hosts communities like /r/r4r, a fairly wholesome space for friend and relationship classified-style ads. There's also /r/dirtyr4r, with a much heavier emphasis on kink, hookups, and one-night stands, /r/randomactsofblowjob, which exists solely to match willing givers with willing receivers, and /r/RandomActsOfOralSex, which is more generalized and allows women to solicit favors from gentlemen.
With more than 53,000 subscribers, /r/randomactsofblowjob might be the most enthralling subreddit for hookups, simply because the rules of engagement are so specific: You post your age, sexual identity and what you're looking for, accompanied by a short description relaying any notable details. Maybe you're a 78-year-old woman woman looking for some fun, or maybe you want to give three blowjobs at once as a throwback to your college years. Then you camp out by your inbox and wait. It's archaic, but it's direct, and that's the point.
"After my girlfriend and I had a discussion about making our relationship open, RAOBJ was one of the first places I thought to look for casual hookups, because it was so simple, straightforward and honest," subscriber Ryan, 26, told Mic. "[It's like], 'Want a blowjob? Just ask!'"
These subreddits are also somewhat unique in that there are way more ads posted by women for men than you would assume. If you go to /r/randomactsofblowjob or /r/dirtyr4r you'll see a lot of posts by straight dudes, but you'll also see a healthy number from straight women, as well as queer and trans people. Considering that apps like Tinder are often considered unwelcoming if not downright hostile to women and LGBT people, it's not so surprising that these users would migrate elsewhere to get laid. But it is somewhat surprising that they'd flock to Reddit, a website that's been trying to shed its reputation as a bastion of sexism for years.
"I'm looking for a good time, not a long time": But one reason why Ryan and other Redditors are flocking to subreddits is to escape some of the pomp and circumstance you'll find in places like Tinder and OKCupid, which have a tendency to dress up the stark reality of hookup culture into something a little more modest and demure. (Hell, even Tinder's own CEO denies that it's a hookup app.)
But instead of Tinder users coding lascivious desires in Drake quotes on their profiles ("I'm looking for a good time, not a long time!"), Reddit gives people a way to bypass the bullshit and just get laid.
"For me, Reddit is more honest. People tend to lay their situation out a little more than on OKCupid and particularly Tinder," said a 22-year-old headhunter named Sarah who's used /r/dirtyr4r. "There's a lot more anonymity, so if you're looking to screw someone who will pretend to be your sister, or someone who isn't your wife, you can just ask. There isn't the same backlash as I would imagine you'd probably receive on more traditional dating sites."
She's not wrong. You'd get a lot of left swipes and a lot of trolling if you came clean on Tinder about your deep-seated incestuous fantasy or your marital status. But on a platform like Reddit, people are more open about their sexual desires, whether they're taboo or not.
Reddit can also be an inclusive space for LGBT people. If you go to /r/randomactsofblowjob, for instance, you'll find a ton of same-sex requests. Kelly, an older transgender woman, said she's also seen a number of posts from transgender users on various subreddits. "A lot of traditional hookup vehicles aren't useful for me," she told Mic. "Reddit allowed me to focus on people who weren't turned off by my trans status."
Kelly told Mic that the best sex she ever had was with someone she met off Reddit, and that one of her most successful posts was posted to /r/dirtyr4r when she was looking to lose her anal virginity. It's written in clear, plainspoken language, using the same language you or I might use to try to sell a couch on Craigslist. Unlike other dating sites, everyone on Reddit admits they're there for the same thing: sex. For all its faults, Reddit is a place where you can fuck without fear of judgment.
Are we empowered or just horny? Reddit prides itself on its independence. Sometimes, that manifests in ugly ways, as was the case earlier this year with the backlash to the ban of subreddit /r/fatpeoplehate. But the Reddit community has still managed to build some surprisingly sex-positive forums as well, like /r/ladybonersgw, a community devoted to the nude male form. These sites are all perfectly horny, but they also have specific rules in place to prevent harassment. There's a strong pro-community spirit that mirrors that of Reddit itself.
"Reddit's an existing community, so it's really easy to drift towards hookups," Adam*, a man who uses both Reddit and Craigslist for hookups, told Mic. "I was used to interacting with people on Reddit, so to me, it seems totally natural to use it a hookup platform, almost the same way people in any existing highly social environment (school, workplace, activities, etc) will invariably start hooking up with each other."
Ultimately, there's nothing explicitly different about hooking up on Reddit as opposed to using Craigslist, AdultFriendFinder or any other no-strings-attached hookup engine; after all, we've been using anonymous Internet forums to find hookups for decades now. But redditors say there is something unique about the community itself.
"Compared to when I was younger, I have gone through a major transition from being conservative, traditional and even prudish about sex to being very open and sex-positive," Ryan told Mic. "For me, resources like /r/randomactsofblowjob represent a shift toward improved attitudes concerning sex and promiscuity."
*Some names have been changed to allow subjects to speak freely on private matters.