How To Create a Personals Ad

In a world where dating co-workers is often discouraged and traditional singles bars seem to cater to a much younger crowd, many single people turn to the world of personal dating services.  Subscribers and non-subscribers alike are free to browse listings in newspapers or special tabloids, hoping to find a perfect romantic match for their interests.  But writing these personals ads can be very personal indeed, and it's not always easy to define your romantic goals and personal interests in such a limited amount of space.

Fortunately, a standard personals ad is more of a calling card than a resume, so subscribers are not always held to the same degree of brutal honesty as job applicants, although the two processes may feel a bit similar.  It's okay to use a little poetic license when constructing a personals ad, as long as you maintain a core sense of honesty.  Here's how to write a personals ad for most dating services:

  1. Before writing your personals ad, take a personal inventory.  Most people rarely take the time to examine their lives from professional, social and romantic angles.  A good personals ad may require examining all three.  How would you describe your current job to a friendly stranger?  Are you a professional?  Self-employed?  Managerial?  What are your basic emotional traits?  Are you introspective?  Outgoing?  Talkative?  What do you look for in a romantic partner?  Loyal?  Passionate? Self-supporting?  All of these factors should be considered.  This is the time to be most honest with yourself, since potential responders may be basing their interest on what you reveal about yourself in a personals ad.
  2. Understand the requirements and restrictions of the service.  Read several existing personals ads to get an idea of tone and detail.  Make sure you understand restrictions on word count, personal details, language, sexual references and contact information.  This is a good time to learn some time and word-saving abbreviations commonly used in personals ads, such as DWF (divorced white female) and SBM (single black male).  There may be a number of other useful abbreviations about personal habits or preferences, such as N/S or N/D (non-smoking or non-drinking), and even religious affiliation, such as JWF or DCM (Jewish white female or divorced Christian male).
  3. Begin writing your personals ad by establishing who you are.  Many browsers of these ads are looking for specific age, racial, religious or physical factors.  It's a good idea to start out with a brief description of your current romantic status and some major physical characteristics: "DWM, 45, athletic build, N/S, some drinking, seeks SWF 35-45 for friendship, LTR."  This may look like abbreviated jargon, but an experienced browser will see: "I'm a divorced white male in his mid-forties who keeps in shape, doesn't smoke and only drinks socially.  I'm looking for a younger single white female interested in a casual relationship which could lead to romance."  By establishing the basics early in the ad, you can help browsers filter through hundreds of similar blurbs and find yours.
  4. Add personal details about your appearance, career or hobbies.  After establishing your basic profile, spend a few words describing yourself to a potential date.  "Blonde hair, brown eyes, medium build.  I'm an outgoing professional who enjoys music, weekends at the beach and hiking."  The important thing to remember is that you should actually enjoy music, the beach and hiking.  The other details can remain a little vague, such as weight or occupation.  What matters about this section of the personals ad is that you demonstrate interest in the world around you.  Potential romantic partners want to know if their interests match yours.
  5. Describe the type of partner you seek for romance.  Again, be honest. "I'm looking for someone who enjoys sports, has a wicked sense of humor and knows what she wants out of life."  Unfortunately, some people use this section of a personals ad to define what they don't want, which can sound very cynical or insensitive on paper: "I don't want any fat women, single moms or game players.  If you play head games with me, I'll play them right back."  This is precisely the sort of thing you'll want to avoid in your own ad.  Stay positive and open-minded when it comes to the personality traits you seek in a romantic partner.
  6. End your personals ad on a high note.  What you want is for a qualified reader to take action, not move on to yet another ad.  Use strong verbs to challenge the reader to react: "I'm ready to start a new adventure, are you?  Circle this ad, write down the number and let's get together soon.  Don't spend another lonely night at home."  It doesn't have to sound forced or aggressive, but the bottom line is that you want someone, or several someones, to respond to your ad soon.  The ending lines of your personals ad are the perfect time to demonstrate your creativity and sincerity.  If a call to action seems too forward, you may also consider writing something original about your worldview, sense of humor or general personality.  A personals ad is a form of sales pitch, and you are the main product line.  Allow your words and descriptions to sell the sizzle.


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