WHEN IT COMES TO WRITING AN EFFECTIVE PERSONAL AD, IT ALL COMES DOWN TO BEING HONEST … WITH YOUR PROSPECTS AND YOURSELF.
Years back, before the onset of the Internet and dating sites, many people would place personal ads in magazines, seeking out possible partners for relationships. Nowadays, most people use the Internet for a variety of reasons, most of which being the interactive, far-reaching and instant gratification offered by the Web. Some still may prefer the old-school methods, yet the bottom line that impacts everyone is … What do I say? How much is too much? Is there anything too personal?
Having met my wife online on one of the popular dating sites, I naturally have some pretty strong opinions about the best way to represent oneself. Having dated on this same site and others for eight months previous to our first encounter, I have even stronger ideas on what not to do. So, let me give you my take on this process from start to finish covering my do’s and don’ts.
Personal ads: Some rules of thumb
Be authentic. Let people know who you are from the start. This would fall as well under the category of truth telling. If you’re not working, if you are, what you do, what you like and so forth. Don’t try to be everything to everyone in the hope of maximizing your chances to meet someone. All you’re really doing is wasting time meeting with those who won’t work.
Start from the premise of honestly representing what you bring to the table and, consequently, what you probably need some work on. Just placing your order only tells the other person you’re a consumer. Remember — if it’s to be a relationship, it requires two people, so let others know what you’re about.
Never lie. If you’ve been married before, have kids, are unemployed — all of these things will eventually be found out. Stop thinking of it as not wanting to narrow down your chances, and instead see it as target marketing.
Don’t overestimate yourself or insult your audience. Nobody enjoys reading about someone who thinks too highly of himself with a lot of “me” language. You’re just letting people know that there’s no room for them. Make sure that the language you use isn’t inflammatory or insulting, unless of course you’re prepared to admit you’re an a-hole looking for someone who thinks that’s attractive. I did suggest being authentic.
Use a current picture. Nobody is really interested in what you looked like two years ago at your friend’s wedding, especially in that ridiculous bridesmaid’s dress. Also, you may be proud of your recent weight loss, but nobody really needs the “before” picture. In addition — and this may be just for LA or NY — lose the professional head shots. It may create an ooh and an aah, but what people really want to see is what you look like most times of the day, except for when you roll out of bed in the morning.
A personal ad is not a resume
This is a personal ad, not a resume. You may alter your resume, but make sure your information accurately reflects your personality. If you’re funny, be funny when it’s appropriate. If you know you’re not really that funny, don’t attempt to stretch beyond your frame of personality. A knock-knock joke is not going to go over well. Do what you can do to show multiple sides of yourself, provided they exist. This doesn’t include if you have a personality disorder — although it may seem interesting, most people are looking for one person per body. Humor, warmth, sensitivity, values and beliefs are examples of what to share and can convey different tones that shape a real picture of who you are.
The question people always ask me is when is it too much information ? I always find that usually when you write something and you stop to question whether it’s too much, it probably is. Keeping it simple doesn’t reflect that you are. It just allows for a process of getting to know someone and not vomiting on her in a personal ad, during a phone call or on a first date. There’s a difference between pouring someone a glass of water and asking her to stand with her mouth wide open in front of a dam that’s about to break. Nobody is that interesting or attractive.
Beyond the above, just know that with all the greatest of intentions, there is often an innate knowing or “thing” that happens when two people meet that can’t be expressed on paper. Do not be discouraged. Greatness comes just when you’re ready to give up.