Looking for Love Among the Personals

by Anne Semans

There’s nothing like spending another day alone to renew one’s determination to go out and meet people! Every six months I come up with some new plan to get new people into my life, which is how I started along the personals path.I wrote this awhile ago, but I like to dust it off after Valentine’s day in the hopes it inspires some other lonely hearts!

I happen to be a single mom without a steady partner, and sometimes the self-love sessions just aren’t enough.You know what I’m talking about: despite the fact that I work double time taking care of the kid, there are times when my head hits that pillow at night with one all consuming thought, “I’ve got to get laid.” A warm body, a comforting touch, a rollicking round of sweaty sex—these are the things that can rouse me from my maternal slumbers and rejuvenate my body and our self-esteem.

But how to find that special someone to grace one’s bed? I don’t know about you, but I’m too old for one night stands, I’m too busy to join any classes, and I’m too tired to stay up late cruising clubs. And despite begging and pleading with all my friends to fix me up with eligible acquaintances, not a one has come through yet. So where’s a lonely girl to turn? To personals ads or sites, that’s where. You’ll find them at the back of your local paper, or online at sites like:

  • Perfect Match is revolutionizing online dating with a unique system for highly compatible matches and video dating profiles featuring Dating-On-Demand in partnership with Comcast Digital Cable and Cox Cable. Perfect Match is brilliantly original, easy to use, and noticeably successful in matching lasting relationships.
  • Adult Friend Finder is the wildly popular adult sex and swinger personals where you can find new friends, hookup with the hottest singles and wildest couples. Whether you’re looking for sex chat rooms, nude webcams, swinger action, or group sex; whether you’re straight, bent, or kinky you’ll find anything you want — an entire community of sexy activity where anything can happen, and often does!
  • Senior Friend Finder is a popular personals site where people of a certain age meet for friendship and romance. Senior Friend Finder is an active community featuring chat rooms, an advice magazine, and more. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s never too late to fall in love, or enjoy sizzling passion with that special someone (or twosome, or moresome!).
  • BDSM is the leader in Alternative Lifestyles personals sites,with hundreds of thousands of active members worldwide. Featuring chat rooms, a magazine, and erotic BDSM material submitted by BDSM members. BDSM community is not afraid to explore the darker side, and has unmatched brand identity inside both the kink community and the mainstream.

I finally took the plunge and answered a few, even ran my own. I’d be lying if it told you that there are a dozen men lined up outside my door with flowers and chocolate, but then I am extremely selective. However, the whole process has improved my self-awareness and has helped me get in touch with what I’m looking for in a partner. Plus, I get to pat myself on the back for pro-actively looking, when it would be a hell of a lot easier to just turn the vibrator on for zillionth time.

To the uninitiated, personals have a bad rap—mostly as a forum for lonely, absolutely desperate creeps who’ve never been able to get a date. But actually, most personals fans are just regular folk who for one reason or another want to expand their pool of potential mates: tons of us are relationship refugees re-entering the dating scene, others are shy and find it difficult to socialize in person, some just don’t get to meet new people very often. The people I’ve met through the personals don’t have unrealistic expectations about meeting Mr. or Ms. Right, but they do appreciate the opportunity to cast a wide net in the hopes of one day landing the big one.

Deciding to play at the personals is the easy part, but once you dive in you’re faced with an endless set of decisions. I’ll review a few, but my best advice is to take a deep breath, go with your instincts, learn from your mistakes, and approach the whole task with a sense of adventure.

First you must decide whether you want to respond to an ad, write one of your own, or both. The beauty of responding to ads is you have the luxury of trying on a few different hats—do you like the clever one, the sincere one, the naughty one? The benefits of placing an ad or filling out an online profile is that people come to you. You’re free to describe yourself or your ideal partner in any way you like, so if someone reviews your laundry list of physical characteristics or odd personality traits and still contacts you, you’ve got a live one!

The key to the whole process is in how you describe yourself. As a friend of mine said, “Be thoughtful—the sign of a good ad or profile is one that generates a few, good responses. If it’s too vague you might get a lot of queries, but they’re probably from people who’ll turn out to have nothing in common with you.” Think about what elicits a response from you in others’ profiles, and try to write something similar. I find myself annoyed with overly cute or self-consciously clever ads, so I go for honest and sincere. Be yourself! Don’t lie about your looks or your interests—that’ll only catch up with you eventually. (It does crack me up, though, how many people describe themselves as “attractive”–a much higher proportion than what you see in the real world!)

I flip flop on how much emphasis to place on interests and activities. I might not like football or getting my nose pierced but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be compatible (sexually and otherwise) with someone who does. There’s a reason “opposites attract” is a time-honored mating sentiment. On the other hand, you need to give people something to work with, to respond to, so you just have to make the call. Since it’s free you can always take out more than one ad and try different approaches. Finally, use common-sense when leaving information about yourself. Until you feel comfortable and trusting of someone, don’t give out too much personal information—your last name, where you live, work, etc. You can avoid giving out your phone number by just offering to call the other person, or using an anonymous email address. Follow your instincts, and err on the side of caution.

I just have to make one little aside here and rant on what I find most galling about the personals ads or matchmaking profiles—the superficial emphasis on looks. Now, like most women, I don’t have a model’s body and I’ve had “issues” around it since I was old enough to care. I shed my own baby fat in my youth, but once I became a mom, I found it difficult to shed the baby fat bequeathed to me by my daughter. I exercise, feel fit and sexy, but geez, there’s nothing to dampen the old self-image than reading through a bunch of these men’s ads who love words like “petite,” “slim” and “slender.” Don’t even get me started on the “busty” and “buxom” crowd. You will not find nearly so much emphasis on men’s looks in women’s ads. Many sites will let you post a picture, and whether you do this is entirely a matter of personal preference. I don’t mind giving mine out, but only if I get one in return. Some folks like to keep things in the realm of the imagination, and see what sparks fly from the written word alone.

Once you connect with someone you’ll probably have several conversations or online chats before deciding to meet him or her. (In the online world, you may be content to just keep it virtual, which can lead to some hot cybersex). When planning to meet someone, be smart and cautious. You just met this person, and although they may sound wonderful, you should play it safe. Don’t go to his or her apartment; meet in a public place and arrive separately. Tell a friend where you’re going and what time you’ll be back. Once you’re finally face to face with your pal, try to relax. It might help to just acknowledge the awkwardness of the situation and then take it from there. If you’re the shy or tongue-tied type, come prepared with some questions you can ask. And if you’re trying to assess if there’s any sexual chemistry, give it some time. I’ve found that between all the conversations going on silently in my head, my body barely has any room to breathe. It might take a second date, and some time to reflect, before you decide whether there’s anything worth pursuing.

And with that, I urge all you lonely hearts out there to pick up the local paper or visit a dating site and get personal! Good luck.

© 2008 Anne E. Semans. All rights reserved.