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Home  > Health >  Sex & Love

SWF Seeks Non-Freak for Marriage
by Jennifer Strailey

You're: a single, fun-loving professional who enjoys good wine and walks on the beach. We're: here to tell you nobody gives a rip. Least of all, the legions of singles combing and placing personal ads with online-dating services.

Let's Recap:

Avoid following the dating service's canned approach to online personals.

Be honest. The jig will be up sooner or later.

Be specific about what you're looking for from life, rather than from a partner. You'll attract people who want the same things you do without sounding overly negative.

Avoid putting your resume in the ad.

Use humor if you're genuinely funny. If you're not, forget it.

Online dating do's and don'ts.
When online dating leads to more.

Life in the technological age moves ever faster, but if you're over 30 and single, the dating scene can creep along like Internet access without DSL. You've given up on meeting anyone in a bar. Your friends are getting married, having babies and throwing fewer and less exciting parties. You dated a coworker once, but never again. So now what?

Registering with an online dating service begins to sound less crazy—maybe even like a good idea.

And it might be. Plenty of people, normal people, have met on the net. In fact, so many singles have started thinking online might lead to in-love that 22 percent of the 98 million single Americans (age 15 or older) use an online dating service, according to American Demographics.

The good news is 20 million singles are surfing for relationships. The bad news is half of them are your competition. How does one lovelorn pup stand out from the pack?

If you want to hear "you've got mail" let alone "let's move in together," you've got to start by writing an ad that attracts attention.

We talked to four single folks, two men and two women, experienced in looking for love and averting disaster with online personal ads. Here's what they had to say.

What Women Want
"What helps is to read the profiles of your same sex," admits Neil Brecher, a 30something from Philadelphia. "Most online dating services will let you browse without a membership. You get a feel of what to say and what not to say—'I like to have fun. My friends would say I'm attractive'—yawn."

But creative writers beware. David Strauss*, a 40something bicoastal bachelor who lives in Pittsburgh, Penn. and San Francisco tried so hard to steer clear of boring, he ran straight into stranger-than-fiction.

"I wanted to sound like a DJ, a little Midnight in Memphis," says Strauss, explaining his first ad, which included song lyrics like, "I stepped out of Mississippi when I was 10 years old, with a suit cut sharp as a razor" and "no pretty chick is gonna make me crawl."

Nary a B.B. King fan bit.

With zero responses and counting, Strauss decided it was time to get the advice of a woman. He showed the ad to his sister. "Nobody's going to e-mail you," she said. "They'll think you're a psychopath."

Strauss has a new ad now. It talks about his realization that there's more to life than a great job, which incidentally he has. "I'd like to focus on a family and playing music. I'd like to get a big piece of land to roam around on and lots of dogs," he writes.

He got 12 e-mails right away and women he had written to previously began to respond.

"You have to be explicit," says the newly educated bachelor. His current ad tells women he wants kids, a place in the country and that he's less interested in work than he used to be.

"Mention something specific that's going to appeal to the opposite sex," advises Brecher. "A guy might say, 'I enjoy the theater and wandering around antique shows.' " But don't lie, he warns. Eventually you'll meet in person and the jig will be up.

What specifics have worked for Brecher? "I describe myself as a renaissance man. I sing. I woodwork." What woman isn't intrigued by the image of a man with a hammer in his hands, a nail between his teeth and music in his heart? "I got a lot of responses from women who said they liked that I said I made things with wood."

Their advice to women: Avoid being overly negative. Guys want a woman's baggage to fit in the overhead compartment (or better yet—the glove compartment). "Some women rant and rave about what they're looking for," observes Strauss. "They dump onto the page every bad thing a guy has ever done to them. Maybe it's useful, but it's not much of an attraction."

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Related Stories
• The Need for Speed...Dating
• Let's Just Be Friends
• Find A Great Relationship
• Bring Back Flirtation!
• Giving Up on Mr. Right
• Sparking Old Flames

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