Dating Challenge: Writing a Personal Ad

Twenty years ago, personal ads were sleazy, sexual, and sometimes perverted — a backstairs way for people to manage what they were ashamed to admit to. These days, personals are one of the most common and accepted ways for people to meet one another. (They are also the parent of chat rooms and online dating.) By spending a couple of hours reading through the dating ads in whatever newspaper or magazine you normally read anyway, you can get a really good idea of who's looking for what.

Are personal ads completely accurate? Can they be useful? Good questions. If you believed everything that was written, you'd believe that all women are blonde, svelte, emerald-eyed owners of their own antiques importing businesses and all men are handsome, chisel-chinned CEOs looking to settle down with a wife and kids after taking long romantic walks on the beach on their private islands.

If you're already feeling outclassed, if you're not skinny, or if you don't own your own business, don't worry. Be assured that people are not necessarily very accurate in their self-descriptions. Many seemingly normal, happy, fun people are out there looking. When you're ready, you can hop right on out there and answer — or even write — an ad if you wish.

Know who you are

Stop sweating. You're not going to send the ad anywhere, but writing a personal ad does a bunch of cool things for you:

  • Makes you admit that you're really ready to start looking to date
  • Enables you to be specific about who you're looking for
  • Forces you to look at who you are, and that's really, really important

When you write your personal ad, think about the following:

  • Who you are
  • Your assets and your liabilities
  • What your mom or dad loves about you
  • What your friends criticize
  • Your favorite thing to do (no, don't put that in the ad just yet, thank you very much; list your favorite thing to do vertically, with your clothes on ... in public)

When you describe your perfect companion, try to get beyond the physical description and age to the person's soul and consider these qualities:

  • What is the person like?
  • What do the two of you enjoy together?
  • What do you talk about when you're alone?

Other things that you might think about are the following:

  • Sex (come on now, no giggling) — your sex and the preferred option for your date to be (in other words, are you straight or gay?)
  • Age range
  • Race, if it's an issue
  • Educational background
  • Work
  • Geographic proximity (don't start with long distance unless its preferred, and then you need to think about why you opted for distance rather than closeness)
  • Height and weight
  • Religion
  • Smoking preference

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