AFF & The Wall Street Journal  

vengeur 42M  
565 posts
3/14/2006 3:39 pm

Last Read:
1/27/2007 6:13 am

AFF & The Wall Street Journal

Earlier this month, an interesting article about AdultFriendFinder appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It confirmed some of the things that I have believed for a long time about this site. For those of you who missed it, I have copied and pasted it below in its entirety. So read on!

'Adult' Dating Sites Flourish As People Seek Sex Over Love

March 1, 2006

Amid sluggish growth for dating Web sites, a different kind of matchmaking service is thriving online: so-called adult dating sites that dispense with courtship and urge members to head straight for the bedroom.

With names like and adult dating sites purport to help users find one-night stands, swinger parties and other sexual escapades. AdultFriendFinder, the most popular of the sites, draws 10.1 million unique visitors a month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
Adult dating sites work in much the same way as more traditional sites. Users create profiles by filling out questionnaires. While many dating sites ask users about things like their views on religion and favorite books, adult sites focus more on appearance and measurements. Users are encouraged to post sexually explicit photos. The sites match members of similar locations and interests.

"We enable someone to express themselves sexually in a place that doesn't make them feel dirty," said Andrew Conru, the 38-year-old founder of AdultFriendFinder. He estimated that about half of his site's members are "actively seeking a sexual partner." Others take advantage of features such as chat rooms and blogs. Some visitors, he said, are merely interested in being a "voyeur into other people's lifestyles," and use the site to see the racy profiles and nude photos posted by members.

AdultFriendFinder's traffic rose 67% in January from a year earlier, according to Nielsen. the second-most visited adult dating site, tripled its traffic to 3.2 million unique visitors in January while running online advertisements that promise "real people, real sex." Nielsen said traffic to InterActiveCorp.'s the most popular of the traditional dating sites it tracks, grew 7% to 4.5 million unique visitors over the same period.

Pursuing Fantasies

Members of adult dating sites say that while many members do find sexual partners, there is often a wide divide between what the sites promise in marketing materials and what they actually deliver. Anastasia Sidorowich, a 45-year-old member of AdultFriendFinder, said young men, in particular, "come in and act like it's a sexual fast-food service … They think they can just walk in, and order up the women of their choice at two or three a.m., and say, 'Can you pick up a pizza and six-pack of beer on the way, too?'"

Ms. Sidorowich said she joined the site eight years ago to find "a steady lover," and isn't particularly interested in marriage. She has become involved in long-term relationships with several men on the site. However, she said, success tends to come in waves, much like in traditional dating.

She has also noticed that some of the pitfalls of traditional dating sites are also present on sites like AdultFriendFinder: Users sometimes embellish when it comes to their age, weight, height and other physical attributes. "I know one woman who has been 46 for the last five years," said Ms. Sidorowich.

The allure of the adult dating sites is "the fantasy," said Kirk Brooks, 51, a former member of AdultFriendFinder who said he had mixed success finding partners. "We all walk around believing that there actually are unfettered sexual liaisons to be had, just for the asking. It's a con, but it's an alluring con." Mr. Brooks, who lives in San Carlos, Calif., said it's more difficult for men on the site to find women than vice versa. Among U.S. members of the site, "men seeking women" outnumber "women seeking men" by more than 11 to 1.

The interest in adult dating sites comes as traditional matchmaking services grapple with slow growth. Jupiter Research analyst Nate Elliott said the percentage of online users who pay to join traditional dating sites has remained stagnant at about 5% from 2003 through this year, while the percentage who browse online personals has slipped to 16% from 21%. The trends reflect price increases, as well as dating sites' decision to offer fewer features to nonpaying members, he said.

Mr. Elliott said AdultFriendFinder is faster at converting visitors into paying members than traditional dating sites because "you've got a type of content people naturally want to come to." AdultFriendFinder charges users $20 or $30 a month for premium features. Users at the $30 level have their profiles displayed more prominently on the site. AdultFriendFinder's prices are similar to those of traditional dating sites.

The FriendFinder Network

AdultFriendFinder is the largest of about 20 dating sites belonging to closely held Various Inc.'s FriendFinder Network. Mr. Conru, who is majority owner of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Various, launched AdultFriendFinder in 1996 after discovering that some users of a more traditional dating site, were interested in posting sexually explicit photos.

The FriendFinder Network also includes such wide-ranging dating sites as JewishFriendFinder, KoreanFriendFinder and OutPersonals. The network is profitable, Mr. Conru said, but he declined to provide any details beyond saying that it generates "more than $100 million" in annual revenue.

AdultFriendFinder calls itself "the world's largest sex and swinger personals site" and claims it has 22.3 million users, though it declines to say how many are paying customers. Users can sign up for free, but can contact only a limited number of members unless they pay a monthly fee.

Mr. Conru is careful to point out that, while the site helps people find others with similar interests, it is not in the business of brokering sex. "Our members themselves are making decisions on mutually agreed-upon relationships," he said. "Every dating site is dating first. Of course, at all sites, at some point relationships go into being a little more sexual."

A Joke Turns Serious

Some users have been pleasantly surprised by their experiences on the site. Holly Fabian, 40, who lives in Warren, Mich., said she joined AdultFriendFinder "as a joke" to browse the amusing content. After she signed up, she received 150 emails in 24 hours from men, nearly all including nude photos. Many cut right to the chase, asking her if she wanted to have sex. "It would be from everywhere," she said. "I have had emails from Germany, Spain, Switzerland, China … It's like, 'Dude, I'm not flying 8,000 miles to see you.'"

But amid the mountain of come-ons, Ms. Fabian discovered a man who seemed to share a lot of her interests -- and seemed to have less of a one-track mind than other users. After some flirtation over email, the two agreed to meet for dinner, and have been dating for the past two years.

"I really am a hermit," said Ms. Fabian, who was widowed in her 20's and works at home as a medical transcriptionist. "At 40 years old, where are you supposed to go meet somebody? I don't want to go to a bar."

So there you have it. I enjoyed reading this article altogether, but I would seriously have to question the figure it cites regarding the "men seeking women" outnumbering the "women seeking men" part. While the article claims a ratio of more than 11 to 1, I would place it much higher than that.

My estimate would be 20 to 1, at the least!

vengeur 42M  
837 posts
3/15/2006 6:42 am


I wish it was merely 10 to 1!

Sadly, the numbers indicate to me that there is a much greater disparity than that.

rm_autumngirl61 56F
741 posts
3/17/2006 7:48 pm

Wow, what an interesting articile!! A 38 year old guy is a founder of this AdultFriendFinder? This AdultFriendFinder has been on for like 10 years right? If so, then he was 28 yrs old. Wow, impressed Thanks for sharing w/ us.

Greathands54 64M

3/18/2006 6:24 pm

I tried to read your profile, but it's turned off. Must be all the e-mail from that dick shot! Ha! Anyway, very interesting blog, and I tend to agree with your estimate of men to women. My ex-lover used to get a hundred e-mails a day on average, it was 52 years of age (with no pic) (smiles)) I get much less....
I'll spend more time going through your posts when I have some time.

vengeur 42M  
837 posts
3/19/2006 4:36 am

    Quoting Greathands54:
    I tried to read your profile, but it's turned off. Must be all the e-mail from that dick shot! Ha! Anyway, very interesting blog, and I tend to agree with your estimate of men to women. My ex-lover used to get a hundred e-mails a day on average, it was 52 years of age (with no pic) (smiles)) I get much less....
    I'll spend more time going through your posts when I have some time.
You get much less, you say? How much less do you mean then? By "much less", do you actually mean "zero" or "I never got any"?

sexplease714 37M

4/5/2006 9:07 pm

That's an intersting article. Thanks for posting it.

vengeur replies on 5/10/2006 9:42 am:
You're welcome, and thanks for reading.

GossipJunkie 42F

5/9/2006 4:46 pm

If you subtract all the fembots, I think the numbers are what you say--makes for a much smaller female community.

"Dance like nobody's watching"

vengeur replies on 5/10/2006 9:50 am:
I also happen to think that the female community on AdultFriendFinder is smaller than that of the male because many women would be averse towards joining this site for one reason or another.

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