Guide to Online Personals

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It’s Spring, flowers are blooming, birds are chirping (the Bitter Single Guy doesn’t buy into that “singing” crap; it’s chirping), and you are lackin’ some lovin’. So, naturally, as we have looked to technology for scanners in grocery store and tracking chips implanted in pets, we also believe that technology can help you find the love we’re lacking. Surely, you say to yourself, online dating has all the benefits of regular dating and none of the drawbacks, right? If you have indeed come to this conclusion, you’re more pathetic than the Bitter Single Guy could have imagined, and he is concerned for you.

If you’re thinking that the Bitter Single Guy is going to be all down on online dating and tell you that it’s all for nothing and will only make you sad, you’re wrong. Online personals ads are one of the simplest, cheapest ways to feel good about yourself whether you’re in a relationship or not. The BSG is going to help you understand how to use this power for good and not for evil.

Logically, after the explosive growth in e-mail and e-commerce, e-dating had to follow. But as many have learned about e-commerce, online dating has its pitfalls. Here is the BSG’s guide to placing your own personal ad online so you can start reaping the benefits of multiple admirers.

First and foremost, you need to understand the benefit of placing a personal ad. The BSG stresses here that the purpose is NOT to find your life-mate. Did you catch that? Should the BSG reiterate? No Campers, personal ads will NOT lead to lifelong love. Oh sure, there are those exceptions who met online and now are pleased as two peas in a pod, but they are less common than people struck by lightning in a corn field. Nope, the primary goal of placing a personal ad is simply to provide yourself a much needed ego boost.
Best of all, this wonderful opportunity for appreciation is available whether you are partnered or single! Whoo Hoo! If you are partnered and currently find your hand clutching your chest; aghast at the idea of placing a personal ad…take a deep breath and keep reading. This is for you, too.

Cruising the boulevard: reading other people’s ads

This is your entry into personal ad-dom. Find a personal ad site, they’re everywhere these days. Create a login for yourself and start hunting. Just keep in mind that these people are nothing like their ads. You’ve seen commercials for fast food hamburgers, right? Have you ever ordered one that looked like it looked on TV? Of course not, those are purely theoretical hamburgers that do not exist in our reality.
Similarly, these ads you’re reading only represent the people who wrote them in the vaguest possible way. So, you’re not mate-hunting here, you’re just shopping. Feel free to ooh and aah and get titillated by what you see; that’s what you’re here for. Feel free also to recognize what about these ads catch your attention: you’ll want to steal those features for your own ad.

Gilding the Lily: creating your own ad

OK, marketing 101 here. This is NOT about honesty. You may be inspired to create an ad that is brutally honest in order to avoid any embarrassment later. This is a noble sentiment and will ensure that your ad is never viewed. This is sales Baby and you need to sell yourself.
First; your picture. The BSG is amazed at the number of personal ads that feature non-smiling pictures! The BSG has a message for these folks: you don’t look dramatic, brooding, or mysterious. You look pathetic and sad and no one will ever love you. So please choose a picture where you’re smiling! The BSG also recommends you choose a picture where you are outside, indicating that you may have a life. Under no circumstances, no matter how good you think it looks, do NOT post a picture taken by your webcam while you sit at your computer. There is no possible way for this not to be creepy.

Second; the text. Many sites have guidelines for writing your ad; if yours has this follow those recommendations. If not, answer questions like: how will the reader’s life change by answering your ad? Why should s/he pick you over some other desperate troll? What celebrity do you most look like? The phrase “Friends say I am a people person” should not appear in your ad.

Selling ice cubes to Eskimos: placing your ad

OK, now as you prepare to post your ad, you usually get a tag line or a heading, so make it something punchy. Do NOT write “SWM looking for SWF for LTR”. This is the online dating equivalent of trying to read the dictionary. People will avert their eyes rather than getting dragged down by this anchor. Instead, try something like “Jen seeks Brad”. Whether it’s true or not, you’ll catch their eye and with the competition as tight as it is, you need to stand out.

A picture is worth a thousand words: responding to someone else’s ad

Your own ad is out there, the line is baited and you’re waiting for a bite. Now is the time for you to scope out other ads and maybe make a nibble of your own. A large percentage of the folks you respond to will not respond back. This is not rejection! Rather, think of this as jumping up and down and waving your arms in a sea of people jumping up and down and waving their arms. You will not be noticed by every one of them (unless you do something creepy and that’s well creepy). So, respond to 5 online ads, even if they’re not perfect. Next week, respond to a different 5 ads. This is called “filling the pipeline” and has no naughty connotations even if you think it does. Keep track of who you respond to in order to avoid repeats. Responding once means you’re interested, twice means you’re very interested and three or more times means you’re stalking. Make sure to include a link to your own ad and picture in your response. This is not a job interview where you can supply references on request; this is advertising and if your brochure doesn’t catch their eye, someone else’s will.

Reeling it in: answering a response to your ad.

You got a bite! Look at the response email in your inbox, and the BSG wants you to just savor it for a moment. That’s right, just look at it and shout “someone wants me!” Now open the email and see what this person says. Here’s the warning: there are freaks out there and one (or more) of them may respond to your ad. Just as you ignore that panhandler at the intersection (the BSG knows you ignore him), similarly ignore the freaks. Trust the BSG…you’ll know the freaks. If not a freak, this person will tell you something about what s/he liked about your ad. Your e-suitor is making the leap that liking your ad means they will like you, which of course, is absurd .we already talked about that, remember? Here’s the key to answering an ad. Have NO expectations. This person is not your soul-mate, this person is not perfect for you, and chances are that this person will not respond to your response. So, have no expectations and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by anything that comes back. The Bitter Single Guy lives by this credo.
If we go back to jumping up and down in a crowd of people jumping up and down for a moment, now is the time to stand out if you want to hear from this person again. If you respond, be a little odd, a little racy, maybe a little suggestive and let the target know that you’re at least a little bit interested.

Ready for your close up: meeting in person

Whether as a response to your ad, or your response to someone else’s, you are likely to have an offer (or make one) to meet in person. The BSG believes (and alluded to this earlier) that this is like making an appointment to be struck by lightning.

If you insist however, agree to meet in a well populated place where you do not normally hang out. Well populated is obvious; if your date is a big honkin’ freak, you want to make sure he will be hampered by the crowd when unsheathing his machete so you can ske-daddle. Similarly, if you decide not to see Machete Man again, but had met him in your favorite bar or coffeehouse, expect him to look for you again there; machete unsheathed early to avoid the crowd.

So that’s it Gentle Readers, With a few hours to kill and an internet connection you can be reaping the benefits of online adoration! The Bitter Single Guy expects each and every one of you to place your own online personal ad by the end of this week. If you are partnered, this is OK. Tell your significant other that the BSG has instructed you and so you must obey. You need never answer a single ad, but placing your own is the ego boost that rarely comes from a bottle of beer despite what Budweiser wants you to think. Go get ‘em tiger.

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