Whatever makes an impression on the heart seems lovely in the eye.
When my long overdue divorce terminated a marriage that had steadily gone downhill for after 20 years, I started dating and learned that the rules of engagement had changed significantly. I learned a few things and after meeting Kathy through the personals decided to teach a class on dating. The personals (dating classified ads) were the precursor to on-line dating sites and a great way for busy people to meet new people.
Of course writing ads for the personals is really a form of marketing and creating positive first impressions was the name of the game. I would have the students write ads in class and then the class and I would critique the ads and give feedback.
The guidelines we used were as follows:
- FORMAT OF THE AD – List the characteristics you require or desire in a partner or mate. I recommend that it’s better to be more general (more inclusive than exclusive) in your definition of what’s acceptable to you. You want to maximize responses with an inviting ad. The unacceptable can be screened out when reviewing responses to your ad or after the first telephone conversation.
- TIMESAVERS – Buy a newspaper and go through the ads. Find ones that you like and model your ad after theirs. Look for phrases and adjectives that will work for you. If you want to appear to be original, get an out-of-town newspaper.
- CONCISENESS – There were limitations to the size of the ad submitted. Many publications would only allow twenty-five words or less. You wanted to learn to write a concise, yet effective ad making every word or phrase count for you. Descriptive adjectives are very effective. Words and phrases can be categorized as positive, neutral and negative. Positive is powerful. Neutral is wasted verbiage. Negativity was verboten. Even one negative word or phrase is damaging. It dramatically reduces the number of responses and also increases the number of negative thinking people that respond to your ad.
I kept a file of personal ads that I thought were either really good or failed miserably in creating a positive first impression. Here is a list of some of my all time favorites:
- DWM (divorced white male), six-foot, well off, educated, good looking, seeks slime lady.
- 46, brilliant, witty, handsome, good dancer, sublime lover. Humble.
- Spectacular view, solid foundation, excellent schooling, older neighborhood, zoned professional. Must see to appreciate. Fire in the fireplace. Call now-won’t last long.
- Correctional institute inmate. Tall, spunky. Leggy blond, 37, good-humored, adventurous, loves the outdoors, wants to relocate.
- Twice-divorced lady needs barely tolerable man with vulgar social graces, below average looks and inconsequential means for occasional dates as a reminder to remain uninvolved.
Other ads had some phrases or sentences that projected questionable first impressions:
- Male seeking female with brain.
- Brown hair with growing bald spot.
- I don’t spit when I talk.
Good first impressions count in every walk of life