Should you mention your snoring, your dexterity with the flute, your knobby knees? Lesley Dormen tells us how she got the guy.
Twelve years ago, I took a chance and wrote a personal ad. Meet men without leaving the house! What could be bad? I wrote my ad thoughtfully. I considered every word. My finished product reflected my attitude at the time—a combination of "you have to play to win" and "hey, why not?" I ended up meeting my husband. Did I get lucky? Sure. But I had prepared the way.
Here's what I've learned about writing a good ad:
1. Before you start writing, put on lipsick. Or a cowboy hat. Or your coolest T-shirt and stilettos. Play your favorite CD. Props that make you feel soulful, frisky, and fascinating help you make those claims for yourself in your ad.
2. It might sound obvious, but be sure to post a terrific photo of yourself. If he likes the photo, he'll read the ad.
3. If you're not comfortable putting your picture up online, avoid overselling your appearance with dubious claims like "Sharon Stone look-alike." I started my magazine personal with: "Curvy, almond-eyed writer, fit (good shoulders)...." My husband says he was attracted to the soft sell of the description and the quirky confidence of the assertion. More to the point: I wanted to attract a man who appreciated subtlety.
4. Show your personality, don't tell it. Create a persona and your profile stands out. Instead of saying you're funny or well educated or caring, demonstrate that. What are your interests? Paintings? Which ones? Your garden? Why? Try an ad that consists entirely of your favorite movie dialogue or a list of beloved fictional characters. Your essence shines through the details. Be specific. Be surprising. A woman I know snagged a boyfriend when she described her ideal job as a combination of circus performer and archaeologist.
5. Seriously avoid personal-ad speak. Don't "like fine dining" when you can be passionate about Memphis barbecue, don't "enjoy movies" when you can declare your enthusiasm for Mel Brooks.
6. Include the basics: your age and occupation, whether or not you have children, whether you're looking for a date or a life partner.
7. Don't lie about your age—or anything else. If you're 42 but look 32, say so (or let your picture do the talking). "Mid-30s" or "early 40s" is fine, but assume he'll round up.
8. Unless you know for sure that you only want to meet, say, a nonsmoking Portuguese-speaking dentist, go easy on the list of qualities he must have. My ad requested a man "financially stable, kinda handsome, who can slow dance, make me laugh, read between the lines." Cast a wide net and edit out the responses. You never know.
9. It's love, not brain surgery. You can do it over. You can do it again.
Dr. Laura Berman answers your sex questions
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, March 11, 2014
© 2014 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.