When I was in London I had set up a stay with a man, over the basic messaging Couch Surfing provides. We decided to meet in public and see how we got on. By the time we met up I had been in London for a few days, and my aunt was set to fly home the next day, so I felt secure in my safety system. My first flag was that he wanted to meet in Piccadilly Circus, one of the most crowded places in London. Usually I would feel safer in that situation, and be all the more happy for it, but a bar in that part of town was impossible to talk in. He had brought his brother with him, because I brought my aunt, second flag. This was not a date, but he was treating it like that. I ended up inviting another friend, I had made at my hostel, to join us. The man I was going to stay with had only held conversation with us for about a half hour, but kept looking around the room, clearly uninterested in what we had to say. Once my friend had shown up, the man I was going to stay with seemed to feel threatened. I guess the fact that I brought a guy made him upset. The guy I was going to stay with looked at his brother and they muttered to each other for a second. They stood up and he said, "I saw a few of my friends. We will be back." As you can guess they didn't return. They were gone for a bit, long enough for my aunt, my friend and I to finish our beers. We decided to explore the city rather then wait for to two uninterested men. I never heard from him and was not worried about it. As I said I was never in danger, but he seemed to want to use the site as a hook up thing.
For the positive side of things I have made some really cool friends from it. For example, one of the friends I have made, was who I stayed with in Lake Powell. He had posted, on the website, that he was feeling down after he got home from his trip. He had been home from Australia about as long as I had from the UK, and I knew what he was feeling. It made me reach out to him. We met for coffee and told each other about our adventures. Having someone to commiserate with really helped the healing process. It may seem dramatic to say I needed to heal from the shock of being home, but if you haven't experienced the "after trip depression" you will. The Couch Surfing really helped me. Sometimes you need community with travel. You need encouragement and inspiration if you want to live your life with an unconventional goal. Even if you don't stay with people, or host people, go get coffee or food and just talk. It will improve your communication skills and help you get accustomed to meeting strangers. That is an important part of travel, especially when you are alone. It can also help you learn about some incredible events in other lives.
I would encourage you to use couch surfing, but don't depend on it. It is amazing how our world connects. Explore every available source of connection. You may find couch surfing is just what you were looking for. Be safe, be smart, and reach out to each other. You never know the connections that will form.
Find me on it and ask to be friends!
asthebirdsfly or Chyna Johnston