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Personal Ads: Create Your Own Modern Love – or Lust – Story

A friend of mine – for the purposes of this article (and because he’s 6′7″) we’ll call him “Lanky” – ended a four year relationship a few months ago. After the requisite bereavement and all-night poker games with the boys, he is itching to get back in the dating game. In the past, he met his girlfriends in school, on the job, and – in the case of his recent relationship – while backpacking through Europe. Now, however, Lanky is 10 years out of graduate school, self-employed, and the closest thing to a vacation he has planned is a weekend in Vegas at a poker tournament. I’ve advised him that Vegas is probably not the best place to meet a girlfriend but it’s definitely the place if he’s still in the mood for a few more rebound screws. He’s not. He doesn’t want to get married next month, but he definitely wants to date women who he could conceive of marrying in the next few years. And so, Lanky got a 3 month membership with a popular dating website. He uploaded a photo, filled out the profile, and did a little searching of his own. After corresponding with a few women for about two weeks, he decided to make a face-to-face date with one of them. He called her on a Thursday night and suggested they meet up the following Sunday night for sushi. As soon as he hung up, he called me in a panic. “I lied on my profile! I lied! Now what?”

“Hold on, hold on. What did you lie about? Everyone lies a little bit.”

“I said I lived in __________ when really I live in _______.” The two towns he was referring to are in the same zip code. I could understand why he would relocate his address, though. The town he said he lived in is known for its fine dining, boutique shops, and beautiful marina. The town he actually lives in is known for its gas refinery.

“I think she’ll understand. You work, volunteer, and play on a soccer league in ___________. All you do in your ‘real’ hometown is mow the lawn and sleep.”

“I have a landscaper.”

“See, you don’t even mow the lawn! The lie doesn’t count!”

Lanky called me that next Sunday night after his date. “Guess where she lives?” Yep, she had lied too. Her apartment is only 3/4 a mile away from her house. Fortunately for Lanky, she hadn’t lied about being 6 feet tall, about her red hair, or about her job teaching 3rd grade. She didn’t lie about her sense of humor and her love of card games. So far, it seems her only lie was geographical as well. But, as I asserted to begin with, everyone lies on personal ads.

Before you take this statement and decide that placing a personal ad is pointless, remember that just about everyone lies on their first date, too. You say that you run every day but really are lucky to make it out 4 times a week. You rave about a foreign film festival you just went to, trying to sound austere and intellectual, when you really only went for the full frontal nudity – or for the amazing kettle-made popcorn at the concession stand. You say you have a great relationship with your family even though you haven’t seen them in 3 years. We want our first impressions to be good ones because we want to have the chance to make second impressions. The difference between meeting someone in a bar and meeting someone through an online personal ad is that your in one case you’re saying the lies and thus, unless you’re dating a stenographer, won’t be confronted with a transcript of your fibs. With personal ads, you’re words are in bold faced print – and sometimes even in bold faced photographs. It’s a lot harder to deny them. In other words? Choose your lies carefully… and learn how to be your own personal ad lie detector to protect yourself.

But first… before we get to the lying… you have to decide why and where you are going to place an online personal ad to begin with. Personal ads don’t have the negative social stigma it once did. In fact, online dating memberships now constitute the 2nd highest grossing market online (betcha can’t guess what the highest grossing is… wink wink). The plethora of online opportunities and the ever surmounting number of success stories have increased public awareness and, consequently, acceptance of personal ads as a legitimate way to meet people for various types of relationships. The diverse options you have in online personal ads is both a bonus and a drawback. Deciding which site to place your ad on, especially when many charge membership fees, can be a difficult task. The first step to making this decision is to clearly define what you want out of the personal ad experience. Are you looking for your one true love or are you looking for someone to have a little fun with? Furthermore, once you answer that question, you need to follow up with a definition of what your “one true love” or “a little fun” might be and who you might want to have love or fun with.

The type of online personal site you choose really depends on what you want. Of course, there are the large sites that everyone knows about including Match.com, FriendFinder.com, and Yahoo Personals. These larger sites have appeal simply because of their size; the odds of finding a life partner, a fun fling, or even a fuck buddy are greatly increased when you there are more people to choose from. But of course, there are also more people to “compete” with. The more people listed on a site also means more profiles to sort through and perhaps a lot of first dates to meet someone who fits your personality, needs, and desires. If there is something really important to you – be it a hobby, a political or religious affiliation, your cultural heritage, your geography, or your sexual predilections, you might find more success on a smaller specialized website. There are websites that are geared towards specific sexual orientations, body types, freshly divorced, and even medical conditions. All you have to do to find a site that caters to your desires is to do a quick Google search with the search terms “online dating” plus your request be it “online dating sports” or “online dating jewish” or “online dating kentucky” you will find both websites that specifically recruit members with similar interests as well as special dedicated sections of larger websites.

Are you looking for a strictly sexual relationship – or a one night stand? Are you looking for a long term BDSM or other power exchange relationship? Are you looking for a women with beautiful feet to worship? Are you looking for a man who loves giving oral sex as much as receiving it? You are not going to be able to put any of these things in a profile on a mainstream website. There are plenty of options, though, for you to find the perfect partner — both in life and in the bedroom/dungeon. There are plenty of gay, lesbian, Kink, BDSM, Swinger, and “discreet encounters” websites that are only a quick Google search away (or mosey on over to our own personal ads review section here). If you try to get away with naughty or lewd profiles on the mainstream sites, you will be policed and removed; if you’re on a paid membership site, you can often be charged an abuse of terms fee as well.

Whether you are looking for a long term relationship or a quickie, once you’ve found the place you want to put your profile, you should follow the same steps for joining, creating your profile, and communicating with other members. Keeping these tips in mind will make the process a lot less painless, a lot more productive, and will hopefully lead to a lot more possibilities!

Joining a Website

There are a lot of free personals websites out there. Most of these websites make their money from ads and many are becoming very popular. This is a great way to get out and test the waters. However, a drawback is that it is so easy to sign up that many people do on a whim but never return to update their information, correspond with other members, or pull their profile down when they’re no longer on the market. (Funny how a recurring credit card bill will keep a person’s attention, eh?) Membership sites that require a credit card also helps to cut back on underage users or people looking to waste your time. If you choose to go with a site that charges a fee, read the fine print very carefully. If the billing is recurring, check to see if they send you a bill or invoice as a reminder of the payment being processed. Most importantly make sure that you can cancel your membership without penalty — and if you do cancel, make sure to get a confirmation code or emailed receipt in case you need to dispute further charges. (Check out our Consumer Tips articles on Paysites and Frequently Asked Adult Website Questions for further information on billing disputes.) For both free and paid memberships, it is important that you will be able to completely remove your profile from the site at any time if you so desire. If the website you are using doesn’t offer a way to mask your email address (ie. through internal private messaging) get a separate, free email account (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc). Do not put your full name in the email’s outgoing name either. It should go without saying that you should never post your phone number, address, employer, or full name in your ad.

Creating Your Profile

You’ve signed up and you’re raring to go! You’re ready to get in the action right away, right? Wrong. It’s time to… well, take your time. The first thing you will do when creating a profile is come up with your user name. This is the first thing people searching the site will see. You want it to make an impact, you want this 8-22 character name to make someone say “Oooh, I want more!” If you’re on a mainstream site, a good way to stand out is to think of your favorite hobby or interest and work from there. “SoloOnATandemBike” attracts attention. “HubbaHubba” attracts the wrong kind of attention. “TripleWordScore” is intriguing. “Romeo4U” risks being a cliche. On an adult-oriented site, it’s highly likely that the hobby you’re most interested in highlighting is sexual in nature. Go for it! But, so you don’t get lumped in with BigDick1928, BigDick1843, and BigDick0021, still take the time to make your user name unique.

Once you’ve come up with your user name, get to work on your profile. This should take time, perhaps even a few days to get it right. This is where online dating has a major benefit over meeting someone in public. You have the time to perfect your “first impression.” Resist the urge to upload your profile the minute you finish writing it. Take a break, walk away, and come back to review it before posting. Have a (brutally) honest friend proofread it, not only for spelling & grammatical errors but also for cliches and bullshit.

In writing your profile, be specific and make sure to fill in every single section. Leaving sections blank immediately leaves a bad impression, indicating that you are lazy, uninterested, or perhaps just too uninteresting to have anything to say. The following examples illustrate how to take a typical personal ads statement and make it your own:

“I love movies, meeting friends for drinks, and playing sports.”
becomes…
“I learned Spanish by watching Pedro Almodovar’s films over and over (but I won’t mock you if you need the subtitles!). Of course, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, nothing beats a silly movie like “Wedding Crashers” or a marathon of Arrested Development episodes. Someday I hope to be able to afford my taste in expensive wine but until then, I enjoy attending wine tastings and I never turn down an opportunity to share a great Shiraz or Cabernet with friends. I play a mean game of driveway basketball and play on a summer baseball league and am looking for someone who can match me in trash talk.”

“I want to fuck you so hard you explode.”
becomes…
“Sex is important to me, both in frequency and intensity. I am looking for a woman who knows how to express her desires, who will get turned on by my lusts & fantasies, and who doesn’t tire out easily!”

“Tie me up, I’m your bondage slut!”
becomes…
“I’ve tried to explore bondage with past lovers but they were hesitant. I’m now looking for someone who is into bondage, who will teach me the basics, and who will help me test – and hopefully break! – my boundaries when it comes to bondage and other areas of kinkiness.”

A Picture Is Worth a First Date

Post a picture. Post a picture. Post a picture.

The statistics vary but most studies show that you are 70-90% more likely to get responses if you include a photo. But this doesn’t mean you should just throw up an out-of-date photo or one that is badly taken. There is no reason for you not to have a real picture to upload. Go buy a disposable digital camera at Walgreens and snap away. On “mainstream” sites, your photos should include at least one headshot and (if more than one photo is allowed) a full body shot that shows you in a relaxed setting where you are laughing and seem unaware of the camera (in other words, not self conscious). Do not include photos with other people. Do not include photos that are more than 12 months old. Do not include photos of someone else and try to pass it off as yourself. If you’re afraid of being rejected because of your photo, imagine how much more painful it would be to be rejected in person.

If you’re posting an ad on an adult/Kink/BDSM -oriented website, it is understandable if you don’t want to post a photo of your face. Still, a full body shot – showing as much or as little skin as you feel comfortable – is important if you want to get both quality and quantity responses. Be creative with what kind of photo you post. If you’re looking for a bondage playmate, post a photo of yourself cuffed and ready to go. If you’re looking for a Master who wants you to service his cock orally upon his demand, make sure to wear a beautiful, rich shade of lipstick that emphasizes your wanting mouth. If you’re looking for someone to worship your feet, you better include a photo of your pedis or you aren’t going to get any responses. Be prepared to exchange a headshot, though, in private email correspondence before meeting someone in person.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want – But You Should At Least Ask for It

Be clear and honest about your relationship status and desires. You will get busted if you are married. But you’d be surprised how many responses you get if you just plainly state the facts.

If you are in the middle of a messy break up or divorce, you don’t have to say “my ex-husband is a slime ball” but you can put “I’ve had my fill of bad relationships, I’m looking to reaffirm my belief that relationships can be silly, sweet, and naughty all at the same time.” Or, be witty and write something like “I thought I had the fairy tale, I just didn’t realize that it would all turn into a pumpkin at midnight. Now I’m ready for a real life relationship with romance, fights, makeup sex, good times, socks on the floor, David Letterman, and all.”

If you aren’t looking for a long term commitment, there are plenty of websites out there that cater to flings and frolicking. You can also express this in your profile with words like “exploring” and “curious” and by being direct. “I don’t know what I want out of life or out of a partner, but how will I know unless I get out there?”

And if you really just want to fuck? Post your profile on the appropriate website, be direct and explicit, and have fun! Don’t waste your time and everyone else’s by posting a profile claiming you want romance if really you just want to do it doggy-style. Adult-oriented websites allow you to be extremely clear about what you want, take advantage of it and share your fantasies!

Truth Be Told…

Be judicious on where you exaggerate. Taking yourself up one or two rungs on the corporate ladder is one thing; formulating an entirely different career is another. Rounding down a few pounds in the weight column is the norm; saying you’re an avid runner when you can’t even climb a flight of stairs without wheezing is a waste of every one’s time. On a sex-oriented website, it’s even more important to be careful with your hyperboles. If you claim to be an exhibitionist who can’t get enough of sex in public bathrooms, you can bet that on your first date, he’s going to want to fuck you over the sink. If you aren’t that adventurous – but have fantasies of being so – then say just that! What guy doesn’t want to take your loo-fucking virginity?

Oh No I’ve Said Too Much

Once again, don’t give away your last name, your telephone number, your personal email, or your address in a public profile. Paid or free, mainstream or kinky, all online dating websites have predators, con artists, and good old fashioned schmucks lurking around. See the end of this article for a list of websites that detail specific scams that are run on online dating sites.

Also, work to find a balance in your profile between telling about yourself and also talking about who you want to meet. A major turnoff is seeing a profile where every bit of the “about me” section is filled in but the “about you” section is left blank. It’s akin to going out and only talking about yourself without ever asking your date any questions about him/herself.

The Profile’s Up! Start Working It!

It’s important to stay active on the website, even if it just means logging in on a regular basis. Most sites list when you were last on the site and many people won’t contact a person if they haven’t been online in a few days. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative and contact people you are interested in corresponding with. Even if you are a submissive slut looking for a new Master on a BDSM site, there’s no harm in sending a respectful curtsy as a means of introducing yourself. This is especially difficult advice for women to follow because they are afraid of appearing desperate. However, as dating “guru” Evan Marc Katz explained, “If you have a good photo, an original profile and you write a confident email, most guys will drop everything they’re doing to talk to you.” You’ve already taken the proactive step of signing up for the online dating site, now take another step to make it work for you!

You are allowed to have standards. Use the same guidelines that I listed above for writing your profile to sift through prospective dates. Look for well-written, thought-out, and interesting profiles with current photos. If a profile makes you smile wistfully (rather than laugh at their bad grammar and overused puns), then this is a keeper – or at least someone you should email. If you feel absolutely nothing when reading the profile, does this mean it’s not a match? No, not necessarily. Just as the perfect profile doesn’t always mean the perfect date. But don’t feel obligated to email someone just because they live in your zip code and have a good job but didn’t do anything but perfunctorily fill in the blanks. If you’ve put forth the effort to craft an intriguing profile, you have every right to expect that of others.

When you are contacted by other members, try to respond within 24 hours (even if it’s just a “I’m really busy, I’ll write you this weekend” email). Just as you took time to write your profile, take as much time as you need to feel comfortable. Take advantage of technology and talk via email, instant message, or even video conferencing. Try to avoid asking for another picture within the first few correspondences (otherwise, the other person might think you’re just trolling for photos). Still, it is perfectly natural to ask for another photo before agreeing to meet. This will help to ensure you’re actually meeting the person depicted on the profile. Be prepared to give whatever information you ask for in return – if you ask for a home phone number, you should be willing to give up yours. If the other person is evasive or reticent to share a photo or other information before meeting, it almost always means that they are hiding something. Move on.

It should go without saying that you should schedule your first meeting in a public place. Yes, this even applies to fun sex hookups. Having one quick drink in the hotel bar before retiring upstairs to get tied to the bedposts may sound silly but you’d be amazed how quickly your instincts will kick in and tell you to leave if something isn’t right. Also, always, always, always make sure to let someone know where you are going to be and have a check-in time when you will ring your friend to let them know everything is going well. Don’t only ring at the appointed time, but also make sure to call when the date is over to confirm your safety… and hopefully to share the juicy fun details!

Now What?

Once you’ve met the person, it’s up to you! If you’re first date (be it dinner and a movie, hiking, foot worshiping, or 6 hours of oral sex) goes well, then ask for more! If it doesn’t go well? Use the quirks of online dating to your advantage. Saying “Isn’t it great how online dating allows us to meet so many different people? We looked pretty good together on paper but I don’t think we have made the right connection.” may sound brutal but it’s a lot better than promising to call and then never doing so…. especially when your rejected date can see that you’re still actively logging in and pursuing other dates on the personal ads site. If you are the rejected one, don’t take it personally. Online dating – even on sites that help out by matching you with similar profiles – is not an exact science. Log back in and keep looking. Think about revisiting your profile, send out a few more emails, and go on more dates. Heck, even consider going out into the real world and meeting people by volunteering, joining a book club, or taking a dance class. Even if you don’t meet your soul mate, you’ll have a new and interesting hobby to add to your online profile — and something to talk about on your next first date!

A column in a 2002 issue of Wired Magazine asserted that, “Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won’t look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because the right books are found only by accident.” Considering that I was invited to 3 weddings this past summer that were products of online dating and that I’ve used several sites myself for BDSM hookups, this prediction is definitely on course to be true. I’d like to still believe in a bit of serendipity. I did, after all, meet my own partner because of a mis-dialed phone number. However, fate might just intervene by leading you to click on a certain profile instead of realigning the stars to make sure your paths cross. Even fate is joining the modern age!

» Rae of fresh-fetish

Special thanks to: Isaac, Joyce, Martin, and “Lanky” for talking to me about their experiences in online dating.

I used the following articles and websites in writing this article:
Advice from a Singles Dating Expert » has a great list of online dating sites including mainstream, geographic, demographic, and adult-oriented
Online Dating Magazine
TechCrunch article on Online Dating Sites

Resources on Online “Sweetheart” Scams:
MSNBC article
StraightShooter.net
Crimes of Persuasion