This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.
Moving to a new area or working at a new job where you don’t know anybody can be seriously depressing, especially if you’re already introverted as it is. What are you supposed to do? Go sit at the bar by yourself? And talk to strangers? No thanks.
Then comes the lightbulb idea: You can make friends online. If online dating is so popular and successful, there’s no way that there aren’t a few legit sites where you can make adult friends in your area with similar interests. After a quick search, AdultFriendFinder sounds like a good place to start.
So you’re on your lunch break at work, type in the URL, and the next thing you know, you’re frantically closing the tab and hoping nobody walked behind you for that split second. AdultFriendFinder is not what it sounds like.
What is AdultFriendFinder?
AdultFriendFinder is one of the most well-known sites for finding quick sexual encounters, regular hookups, and literally anything else even remotely related to sex. The rowdy feed of matches, jumble of explicit photos, and stimulating calls-to-action offering all types of sex makes it heaven for anyone looking for a good time with no filter — and hell for someone who wouldn’t be caught dead clicking on a “There are hot singles in your area” ad.
Even if you’re not using it for real sex, it’s always nice to have spank bank material in your back pocket. During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, sexting, nudes, and Pornhub searches all saw a spike thanks to the vast number of people who started social distancing at home. Those who didn’t want to risk quarantine sex or weren’t finding people on their level of horniness on Tinder were pretty much guaranteed to get their rocks off somehow via AdultFriendFinder.
On AFF, you can find someone to sext via messaging or video (and plan to get it on IRL, if that’s what you’re looking for), watch live streams, or join niche group chats. Is it worth £15-something per month? Depends on how much fishy content you’re willing to overlook for a juicy sexting session.
We reached out to Kalyn Sanders, a business development executive at Friend Finder Networks, for updated AFF demographics. Right up there with Tinder’s monthly flock, AdultFriendFinder snags the attention of over 55 million visits around the world per month, on average. To whet your appetite upon signup, the main landing page flashes a few statistics, including “98,897,765 hot photos” and “3,375,049 connections,” but we’re not exactly sure what that means. Most traffic originates from the United States, followed by visitors from the United Kingdom and Canada.
Specifics on the demographic that most people care about — the gender ratio — can be hard to track down. Sanders told us that “there’s a two to one ratio of single men versus categories like single women, couples, and groups.” The split between men and women is an expected one for a lot of hookup-centric sites. At the end of the day, it’s a paradise for straight men, hit-or-miss for straight women and LGBTQ men, and likely an actual hellscape for LGBTQ women.
AFF lets you identify as and search for a man, woman, a couple, or trans. Despite trying to be a sex-positive site with blog posts, groups, a sex academy, and more, its language for the LGBTQ community has historically been anything but inclusive or positive. Previously, the AFF sign-up page listed “TG/TV/TS” as the “trans” gender selection — we’ll let you infer what those stand for. Though, we will admit, this language has improved recently with more gender options that are appropriately labeled.
Can you find a serious relationship on AdultFriendFinder?
If you’re 100% over being grilled with relationship questions on traditional dating sites like EliteSingles and eharmony, AdultFriendFinder is your golden ticket to instant communication. Registering takes literally 30 seconds — they require nothing from you aside from an email address, a username, a password, and an introduction. Though they don’t require a bio or a picture, it’s probably best to add a few to up your chances for messages and flirtation, especially if you’re looking for something super specific, as you’re more likely to be contacted by people looking for the same thing.
After you register, you’ll see that there are loads of options to completely personalise your account (way more than we expected from a hookup site, to be honest). The more you fill out, the more attractive your profile will be to new viewers. There are the basic physical appearance questions about eye and hair colour, plus more intimate details.
There’s also a personality test that seemed pretty close to something you’d see on Match or eharmony, and we guess it’s comforting to know that some people on here care about what’s on the inside as well.
One of the funniest forms was the “Purity Test,” featuring 100 hilariously-worded questions about how far you’re willing to go sexually. It felt like the sexy 20 questions game that you’d play with your middle school crush when neither of you knew how to flirt, but we guess this information is pertinent when you’re on a site that’s all about sex.
There’s no real matching strategy other than the basic info on physical appearances, so don’t get your hopes up when it comes to finding a lasting connection or kindred soul — but hey, if you’re on the site for the same reasons most other people are, that stuff won’t really matter anyway.
How do you find a match on AdultFriendFinder?
Like a traditional dating site, AdultFriendFinderAdultFriendFinder gives you a collage of potential matches at the top of your personal home page. These will be random right after you sign up, but you can opt to update your preferences to refine your results: Choose your preferred gender(s), age range, location and mile radius, race, sexual orientation, body type, and marital status. They’ll let you know who’s online when you are, which matches are closest to you, new people who liked or messaged you, and all of that good stuff.
AdultFriendFinder is basically like a PornHub that you can interact with. We probably don’t have to say this, but AdultFriendFinder is NSFW and not safe to be on while kids are in the room. Some videos will be blurred out and read “Naughty video” until you upgrade to a Gold Membership.
The message section is set up similarly to a Gmail account, and you can mark things as read or important just as you would on a real email. How professional. You’ll also receive messages instantly, which is definitely a confidence boost even though you know they’re probably just looking for one thing.
You can tell who took the time to look at your profile and who is sending the same thing to everyone, but it’s nice to see that there is a range. Unlike more traditional dating sites, these people don’t need to talk and get to know you for months before meeting. If you’re tired of things moving too slowly or need a change of pace, it’s pretty awesome to know you can immediately make plans for each night of the week.
What does AdultFriendFinder get right?
Once you get past the in-your-face sexplosion of naked profile pictures, horny AIM-era profile names, and explicit videos, there are actually an impressive number of resources to help make your experience as satisfying as possible. Some will cost money even outside of the paid subscription, which is kinda dumb.
Aside from the NSFW content, the website is relatively straightforward (albeit ugly). Every feature is advertised in big letters, notifications are displayed clearly with labels, and you don’t really have to click around to find anything. This makes it super accessible for users of all ages, even those who aren’t tech-savvy and can’t even figure out Facebook. Buttons are all over the place, but you figure it out after messing around for a few minutes.
Activities range from direct messaging, sending virtual gifts, watching live videos of people in your feed, joining adult chat rooms that can get very niche, or entering photo contests.
Think of AdultFriendFinder as the dating site version of New York City — it never sleeps. You’ll find people who work the regular 9-5, people who work the night shift, and people in other time zones, so it’s nearly impossible to log on and not have a lot of people to talk to. You know, like that booty call who’s always awake when you text them.
Or at least that used to be the case… 10 years ago. What was once a hot site that a few Reddit users were quick to hype up is now one of the dating sites that Reddit users can’t help but diss — in the few instances that AFF is even being discussed at all. The Reddit community is diverse and open-minded, and if a dating site exists, someone on Reddit has used it and has an opinion on it. It’s notable that, on a site where online dating is such a mammoth topic of discussion, that AdultFriendFinder has rarely been mentioned since the early 2010s. When an innocent soul does ask if it’s legit, AFF usually gets dragged for sketchy pricing and being ridden with bots.
Is AdultFriendFinder free?
As previously mentioned, you can do a lot on the site without paying a penny: You can message people, reply to emails, and visit most profiles and chat rooms. You know, all of the basic stuff. But with just a few clicks AdultFriendFinder can send you deep down the rabbit hole, and a lot of that juicier hidden content can only be unlocked with a paid membership (called the Gold membership) or by earning points.
Points are AdultFriendFinder’s non-monetary currency. If you’re a free member, you’ll have to earn points through on-site activity to unlock stuff that’s exclusive to paying members. It’s kind of like a game, with points acting like money at the strip club. You can “tip” updates, photos, or videos from a member that you like, buy “bling” (which is basically a badge that makes you look cooler), watch racy videos that are usually blurred out or access other exclusive site content, or “buy” a Gold membership for a month. The more points you have, the more you get out of the site.
But all of that stuff takes a really long time, and is honestly just a hassle. If you want access to all those features, just pay for a Gold membership and upgrade.
If you’re a guy looking for girls, we might suggest getting a Gold membership as the standard. While researching on Reddit, we found a few girls who said they won’t meet a guy unless he’s a Gold member. A Gold membership puts a little bit more credibility behind someone’s profile and makes the entire encounter a little less threatening. It’s easier to believe that someone’s a real person if they’re a paying, active member of the site, and it’s nice to know that they’re taking it slightly seriously. Plus, if you see a picture or profile that looks like it’s five years old, it really might be — there are a ton of non-active profiles from old members and escorts still lingering on the site.
If you find yourself spending more quality time on the site than you expected, becoming a paid member is definitely something to consider. Once you’re paying, you basically become royalty on the site: Your profile will appear way higher in searches, you can use the most advanced searches, and you can read emails and message to your heart’s content (messages and emails are limited with a free account).
A Gold membership can unlock everything that the site has to offer, including unlimited messaging, profiles with private photo albums, and video profiles that are only available for Gold members as well. A general rule is that increased involvement and payment on your end generally equals more success on the website, as your constant activity and heightened search-ability makes it way easier for others to find you. Plus, you’ll just get bored with the free features after a while.
Who should try AdultFriendFinder?
This is pretty obvious, but AdultFriendFinder is ace for people who want a quick hookup, people who are in a sexual rut, people who are tired of porn, and people who find sites like eharmony to be lame. Those long compatibility tests can be exhausting, and sometimes you just wanna skip the small talk and have sex. It’s gonna get kinky out there, and that’s great for those who are dying to blow off steam and are in need of someone who will respond well to a sexy message. It also might be a good place for people who are freshly out of a breakup and in need of attention.
Did we mention it’s also a huge confidence boost? People are so active on this site, it’s impossible not to feel adored. Just seeing the notifications of users wanting to talk to you will make your heart flutter, and you’ll start to loosen up. Even if you’re rejected a few times, you’ll learn which opening lines and flirty comments work and which don’t, making you a smoother operator.
AdultFriendFinder‘s pro-sex, judgment-free environment means it’s open to everyone and highly inclusive, no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation. The variety of people on this thing is so massive that it’s nearly impossible to not to meet someone.
As with all dating sites, catfishing is a big buzzkill. Your chances of being pursued are way higher if you have a lot of pictures of the same person (AKA you), videos, and a genuine profile that lets people know they’re not dealing with something sketchy. Even if you’ve had bad luck with online dating in the past, AdultFriendFinder is the place to 100% be yourself.
The site may look like an ad for a strip club, but don’t judge a dating site by its cover. If you’re willing to look past the questionable design choices, AdultFriendFinder can seriously expand your sexual horizons and introduce you to individuals you never would have met otherwise.
Who should avoid AdultFriendFinder?
You know those warnings that thrill rides at amusement parks are required to put up that tell people who get dizzy easily or have heart problems to not get on the ride? AdultFriendFinder could use something like that. This site is not for the faint of heart — if you’re a cynic, conservative by any means, or get sketched out easily, you’re probably going to hate it. If you appreciate a well-crafted, aesthetically pleasing website that feels safe — no matter how badly you want to have sex — then this dating site is probably not for you. Nothing is left to the imagination here, and it’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. You have got to be open minded.
AdultFriendFinder is not the place to be if you’re trying to make friends, unless “with benefits” is tacked onto the end. Every inch of the site screams “this website is used to have sex,” and you should really listen to that. You might get a date out of it, but don’t expect the person to introduce you to their parents.
But this isn’t to say that meaningful connections or finding a genuine adult friend (get it?) is impossible. There is always the chance of a pure friendship, particularly between two like-minded individuals.
What could AdultFriendFinder do better?
The entire website looks like an ad about hot MILFs that pops up when you’re illegally streaming a movie. Seriously, it’s bad. Even though the website is technically legit, the pictures, word choice, and exclamation points everywhere scream “scam.” No, AdultFriendFinder, “98,897,765 Hot Photos” is not the way to make potential new users trust you.
We’re not knocking a quick hookup or no-strings-attached relations. This isn’t about morals. Genitals are quite literally in your face from the moment you make an account, and that’s just not cute. There are chiller ways to go about insinuating that this is a hookup website without feeling like you’re trapped in a sex dungeon with strangers.
It’s difficult to get past the fact that the entire site looks like it’s about to invite five viruses to your computer. We’re talking terrible graphics that look like they were made on Microsoft Paint and pictures of women who look like they’re from Pornhub in 2007. Reddit user Snoo53279 summed it up in a comment from July 2020: “The people on AFF are definitely real, but there is a huge smattering of bots that also get in the way so it can be a bit of a PITA to use.” If they’re not bots, they could be men posing as a couple to seem less threatening.
The parade of women on the landing page is questionable for two reasons. This shouldn’t even need to be clarified, but not everyone is looking for a woman. At the least, the advertising just isn’t inclusive — but this crosses into fetishisation territory. The cherry on top is that the women in the photos (unsurprisingly) probably aren’t even members on the site, according to a disclaimer at the bottom of the landing page.
AdultFriendFinder’s overall outdated vibe goes past an aesthetic annoyance — it’s downright problematic at times. The “TS/TV/TGs” part of sign-up is nearly unforgivable, and we’d be scared to see some of the related rhetoric that AFF users feel comfortable spewing. Without even a dash of social awareness, it’s hard to see how anyone who’s not an out-of-touch straight cis man would feel comfortable on this site.
Attempting to navigate the shoddy design might just be enough to smother your horniness. Three main issues can make the site borderline unusable: It looks shady as hell, an alarming portion of the user base is made up of bots and spam accounts, and the user interface itself is outdated and rife with bugs.
Other Reddit users mention that the desktop web version won’t even load for them at random times — an especially frustrating roadblock for people who want to end their membership and stop monthly charges. A solution to the laggy web version might be to clear your cache or use the smartphone app instead, but your experience probably won’t get better there. AFF’s mobile page doesn’t even mention an Android app, and the link to the iPhone app brings up a “not available” pop-up in the App Store. For a site that claims to have over 50 million visitors each month, the lack of accessibility to a smartphone app is just plain odd — especially in 2021.
Adding to the sketchiness, a network hack in 2016 exposed around 412 million accounts, including “deleted” accounts that weren’t actually deleted from the database. If this is enough reason for you to fall back on Tinder for finding a friend with benefits, we don’t blame you. Signing up with a burner email and avoiding using your real name as a username are wise moves (just pick a naughty word and add 69 to the end, maybe), though keeping your personal information private is hard when credit cards are involved.
In 2007, AFF was involved in a lawsuit with the FTC over allegations that the site used malware to send explicit pop-up ads to computers owned by people who hadn’t signed up for the service. Though we haven’t seen reports like this recently, so we’re hoping those ridiculous ads you see are at least confined to people who actually use the site.
What is the best alternative to AdultFriendFinder?
Surprisingly, AdultFriendFinder is one of the more tame hookup sites out there. While other hookup sites have names like Swing Towns and Instabang.com, AdultFriendFinder is probably the safest in terms of your Google search history. Most have the same general idea, which is to find sexual partners, have cyber sex, etc, but with names like those, you do start to question the authenticity. AdultFriendFinder is one of the biggest players in the world of legitimate adult dating/hookup sites and boasts a way larger and more diverse audience than a lot of these newer sites.
Horny Matches is one newer dating site that could be starting to slide in, but it hasn’t stolen AdultFriendFinder’s thunder just yet, perhaps due to its dodgy name. It does have its advantages, though. Horny Matches’ first advantage is just that it’s more modern and looks cleaner. The title is more obvious, but the main page encourages “taking the first step” rather than mentioning the words “horny” and “sex” multiple times. The audience isn’t nearly as large as AdultFriendFinder, though, and most people will take more options and a less over an aesthetically pleasing app.
Is AdultFriendFinder right for you?
AdultFriendFinder is possibly the easiest, most low pressure way to find a friends-with-benefits situation without insulting anyone. Everyone is pretty much there for the same reason — and though it’ll feel pretty unorthodox if you’ve only ever used to Tinder to scope this type of thing out, AFF’s blunt advertising at least means you won’t have to explain that you’re not looking for a relationship. It’s niche-friendly, well-populated, and has a lot of interactive outlets to indulge your primal urges.
But that freedom comes with a price — the price being feeling like one of those people who falls for the ads that pop up before a free Pornhub video. It’s not that a site dedicated to sex and sexting is inherently scammy — it’s that AdultFriendFinder drowns you with explicit photos on profiles who might not even be real people while asking you to pay for a subscription with every click. Unfortunately, no matter how in the mood you are, some people aren’t cut out for the nothing-left-to-the-imagination approach with grammar mistakes all over the place. It wants to be sex-positive so badly, but the way sign-up talks about the trans community is the furthest thing from that.
The functionality and safety of the site and the mobile app aren’t where they need to be in 2021. If security measures were tightened, graphics and photos were cleaned up to feel more relevant, and decision-makers behind the scenes were given a lesson in inclusivity and pronouns/identities, AdultFriendFinder could be a handy tool to find attachment-free hookups and connect with a community that’s down for anything.
If you’re brave enough to jump into the action, you can register for AdultFriendFinder. Good luck out there — and don’t try this at work.