On Personal Ads

I read the personal ads once in a while. It’s pretty much more for amusement than out of any quest for “the right man”, for a couple of reasons. The first is pretty simple; I’m not really looking for “the right man”.

Reason number two is that somehow I never seem to qualify as worthy of attention in these ads. Seems I just don’t measure up. Or don’t want to. Does anyone?

Let’s take a close look at the typical gay personal ad.

GWM, straight acting/straight appearing, seeks same..

First of all, I guess I am a “GWM”, though it’s definitely not the primary way I’d identify myself. I’m not sure what “straight acting” means to this guy, but to me it means he’s an asshole. How exactly does he “act straight”? By lying to his friends and dating women he feels nothing for? By being “butch”? By pretending he likes football when he really wants to go to the opera?

“..35 (look 26), attractive…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a personal ad from an unattractive person. Or from one who looks his age.

“..not into “scene”, looking for friendship first and then maybe more… 

Isn’t that just so fucking coy you could puke? Gimme a break. He’s looking to get laid. If it’s fun, he might want to do it again. And just what “scene” is he so not into? Would that be bars? Or bathhouses? Or alleys? Or poetry readings? Bake-offs maybe?

…Me: gym toned body . You: height proportionate to weight…

God knows this is important to any loving relationship. If the body types don’t match, what else is there?

…professional and career-oriented…

Translation: “yuppie corporate suckup”. In other words: “my job comes first and you get the crumbs”. And in extreme cases: “I am incapable of conversing about anything not work-related”.

…love long walks in the park, candlelight dinners, the Sunday New York Times in bed…

Even if someone really likes this stuff, it’s such a cliche as to become an instant turnoff. Jeez…

If you’re (insert age range younger than the age of the advertiser), hot, and ready to commit for a lifetime…

Why, of course! I’m itching to give you the rest of my life just from this tremendously appealing ad. Really. But since I’m approximately two months older than you, I guess that’s out of the question since I’m no longer “hot”. Pity.

I will say that it’s very comforting to know that all the people posting personal ads are so young, attractive, healthy, financially stable and emotionally centered. And all of them so relationship-oriented. And moral. Veritable poster children for the Advocate’s version of queerdom.

I guess there’s something wrong with me for not finding most of these clones particularly appealing. Especially when they post their ads online to inappropriate newsgroups. But that’s another story…

A few suggestions on placing ads:

  • If you’re looking for a relationship, it might be a good idea to tell something about yourself AS A PERSON. Your vital stats are a nice touch, but (I hope) most people who want to “settle down” are looking for more than just a warm (firm…trim…proportionate…) body.
  • If you’re looking for sex, a few interests (sex-related) might be nice as well, for the same reasons.
  • No “moonlight walks on the beach”, “candlelight dinners for two”, or “looking for that special someone”. If you are no more creative than this, maybe you SHOULD stick to vital stats.
  • The “1962 model (insert name of car)” bit has been done to death. Skip it, wouldja please?
  • The “I’m writing this for a friend…” bit has also been done to death.
  • Many publications will no longer let you say “no fats, no fems, no (insert minority)”. I like these publications.
  • If “dominant/top” is among the first three words in your ad, it’s pretty obvious that you’re more interested in sex than a relationship. This is fine, but it’s a little transparent to lie about it.
  • “Complete discretion and satisfaction assured” makes you sound like a prostitute. Again fine, but you may alienate people who aren’t looking to pay for this guarantee.
  • Don’t be surprised if your ad pops up someplace other tan where you sent it. I had a friend who was really freaked out once to find an ad he placed in a small regional paper appearing in a national porn magazine.
  • Don’t post your goddamn personal ad on a newsgroup which is clearly devoted to some other subject. No one cares. You will be flamed. You will deserve it.

And on answering ads:

  • Like everything else, ads which say “too good to be true” generally are, and there’s at least a 50% chance that you “won’t like what you see” no matter what the ad promises.
  • If you do not in any way match the attributes requested in the ad, it’s pretty pointless to respond, now isn’t it?
  • People stretch the truth in personal ads. This is a fact of life. Be prepared to add 3 years and 20 pounds to your mental picture of the advertiser. Also be prepared to subtract about 10-15 IQ points.
  • Be descriptive in your response. Otherwise you’ll probably end up in the “so what” pile who never hears back from the advertiser.