Monday, April 7, 2008

The personals: Online and off

If you’re going to write a personal ad, find a journal, newspaper, or magazine that reflects your interests and is available in your geographical area. For example, if you enjoy sailing, then (“Hi sailor, new in town?”) a sailing magazine may be a great place to place an ad. Or if you have a publication that you read regularly — whether it’s the Times, the Mirror, a daily or weekly paper, or a special interest magazine based on skills, industry, geography, sports, interests, or income — a personal ad allows you to connect with readers with whom you have something in common. As long as you’re going to the trouble and expense of placing a personal ad, be specific and pick a publication that reflects who you are, not who you’d like to be.
If you write well and can be very specific about who you are and what you want, personal ads can work out well. The main thing is to play it safe:
  • Don’t provide any identifying information (such as an address or phone number) in the ad.
  • Meet in a public place.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be home.
  • Don’t let anyone bring you home.
A personal ad is a good way to jazz up your social life, but remember that this person is a stranger. Use the same caution you would with anyone you don’t know and see Chapter 26 for information about dating someone you haven’t “officially” met.

The same general rules that apply to print personal ads apply to online dating. It’s in the same way that 20 years ago, the personals were considered fringe and then moved into mainstream. Although five years ago the Internet was considered marginal and overtly sexual, primarily for kinky liaisons or questionable activities or participants, these days Internet dating is pretty darn mainstream and popular, encompassing literally millions of people. Although some people may still be a bit shy about admitting to online dating (how come I can’t find a date the “usual” way?), millions of folks view the Internet as a great way of increasing the pool of eligible possibilities. ) In a nutshell, your profile should look very much like the one that you would put in a magazine or newspaper: Pretend that you’re paying by the word (even though you’re not) so that you are succinct and specific.

There have been studies that suggest that the longer the personal ad (when wordage is charged) the greater the response implying the author’s vast and unlimited bank account. Because there is no per-word charge for online ads, the green effect is less likely, and going on and on may make you look desperate, lonely, and disorganized. Be succinct, by giving an idea of who you are and what makes you unique, as well as specifically who you’re looking for.

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