When someone is shopping, an advertisement is supposed to represent the merchandize and show it off in its best light, making someone want to buy it. This is the premise of good marketing: knowing your target audience and hooking them with what they want. It is the same with personal ads: you are showing yourself off to your best advantage, and making yourself appear as attractive and intelligent as possible. Because the reader doesn’t know you, hasn’t heard of you, and can’t talk with you (yet), it is one way for someone to see your ad and be drawn to you by what you say.
On the other hand, it might be an opportunity for the target audience to see how horrible someone is by what they say. (Not you, of course.) It only takes one distasteful comment or one thoughtless remark to make people navigate away. (And you wouldn’t believe how many post poorly written personal ads.) But maybe you just aren’t good at writing or making yourself come across as attractive in writing.
Here are a couple examples from poorly written personal ads on the Portland Craigslist in January. Listed after each quote is the reason why a woman might be turned off by the sentence or wording.
“I have lived a life from perfect and have never cheated on anybody before ending the relationship my word and I am proud of this.” (Odd commentary, also poor grammar.)
“I am very Family orented and do not want to let my family down.” (Poor grammar and poor spelling. Not to mention an odd thing to share.)
“Do you enjoy being passionately kissed while being fingered and having your. . . .” (What kind of woman do you expect to answer this ad?)
“Would you like an oral exam?” (Is sex the only thing you care about?)
“If you are an honest Person plz have pic with you holding something with the date on it.” (Obsessive, paranoid, psycho?)
“At the moment I'm around 3 weeks from literally living in my car on the streets.” (Sad, pathetic and the girls are running away as fast as possible.)
“NO over weight people. Thanks.” (Rude. And subjective. What does overweight really mean in our culture? It will have most women obsessing over their self image—and hating you—even if they are thin.)
“no pic no responce.” (Demanding. Oh yeah, and can’t spell or is too lazy to run a spell check.)
“I like My women to be in shape” (Misogynist who probably also wants his woman barefoot and pregnant.”
“I have a saggy-boob fetish.” (Whoa, not only is that weird but if you decide I’m attractive to you, I will be afraid to go out in public until I buy more supportive bras.)
Here are some things sure to turn off most women:
Demanding that a woman must send a photo.
Insisting she send a photo, but not having one posted of yourself first.
Posting a photo of an anime character, your cat or a sunset.
Coming across as conceited by posting photographs of your muscles.
Please, no pictures of your penis.
Saying what you don’t want instead of saying what you do want.
Being negative and talking about the past, like about an ex and how you have been used.
Writing five sentences or less about yourself.
Writing five pages or more about yourself.
Not using a spell check.
Not consistently capitalizing the beginnings of sentences, capitalizing random words, or a lack of punctuation.
Being too forward and describing sexual things you want to do to a woman that she would rather hear after she has gotten to know you—if at all.
Saying you don’t want fat women to reply to your ad. (Besides the fact that you are focusing on the negative and not saying what you do want, it is insulting and not tactfully put. Ladies will be less likely to respond to the ad even if they feel comfortable with their weight because they don’t want someone who is a jerk who might make them feel fat.)
Being dishonest about your age such as by saying you are in your forties but are forty-nine and about to turn fifty.
Behaving as if you are desperate (even if you are), wanting someone to text you the night you post the ad.
Omitting your age.
Focusing/obsessing for sentences (or paragraphs!) on the annoyances of spambots and emphasis on real people. One politely worded sentence will do.
For more information on how to successfully hook a girl with a good personal ad, see next month's article.