I began with a listing announcing myself to the women of my city.

Each day I tried a different approach to see what would be most effective, though I never lied or posted fake photographs.

If you follow the link she provides, the website asks you for your credit card number — y'know, so it can do a background check to make sure you're not a criminal. My favorite scam: One individual tried to get me to buy him or her virtual currency in online games like Maple Story before agreeing to hand over contact information. I decided I would have to take the initiative, so in addition to posting my own ads, I started responding to every ad from any woman who seemed at all interesting.

I cast a wide net in my searches, looking up posts by straight or bisexual women between the ages of 18 and 35 who lived anywhere in Chicagoland — a large metropolitan area that's home to close to five million females.

But when I suggested a time to meet — the last message from me before I would reveal myself and back out — there was no reply. The next day, she e-mailed me saying she was deeply apologetic and that she'd fallen asleep. If nothing else, that imbalance ought to alter the experience.

To get the female perspective, I did two things: I posted a fake ad as a woman to see what kinds of responses I would get, and I interviewed two women who have had success hooking up on casual encounters in the past. "I just broke up with my boyfriend and while it was the right thing to do, it's been rough because I still have all this physical passion and sexual energy and I don't know where to direct it," I wrote.

Have a good one." Most didn't write back after that.

One responded: "Really man, can be cool and relaxing." I began to suspect that no women actually used the site.The prostitutes of Craigslist speak in code, but it's not a difficult one to learn.They advertise "French lessons" — an odd thing to advertise under "Casual Encounters," don't you think?Or can two regular people really make the connection that the section's name suggests?I should admit that I had no intention to actually hook up with someone, should the opportunity arise, if for no other reason than it would be inappropriate and manipulative to an unwitting partner to do so and write about it.The stereotype is that women are interested in relationships, and that only men would be interested in totally casual sex, right? In fact, I was inspired to write this article when a friend told me many of her female friends had owned up to using it. I was only getting messages from gay or bisexual men!