Personal Ads: Dating Dos and Don’ts

Thanks to the popularity of online dating, more people than ever before are posting personal ads on the internet. They’re a great way to meet people — but if you want to stand out from the rest of the crowd, you’ll need to write your ad so that it makes you look interesting, appealing and fun to be with.

In today’s culture of online dating ads, there are things that you should — and shouldn’t — mention. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts to help you in the online dating world.

Dating Dos

Do Write a Great Opening Sentence That Will Attract Attention

When you’re posting a personal dating ad, you’re marketing yourself; you need to hit it out of the park with your opening line. Come up with something original, like “Dreamy-eyed lady writer, physically fit, with a cozy, comfortable personality who loves to laugh.”

Do Be Clear (and Honest) About the Type of Relationship You’re Looking For

Whether you’re looking for casual date-night company or a potentially serious relationship, you need to be clear and honest about the type of relationship you’re looking for. Otherwise, you could start off on the wrong footing. You’ll want to attract respondents who have a similar dating agenda in mind.

Do Be Specific

Avoid vague phrases such as “likes movies and books.” Instead, talk about the movies you like and the books you read. If you’re a “Casablanca” fan, consider writing a few fun sentences in the voice of Rick Blaine (the Humphrey Bogart character). This will be sure to attract old movie fans. Likewise, if you’re a “Da Vinci Code” fan, talk about the Dan Brown books you admire. Love to travel? Talk about places you’ve been and why you love them — but don’t talk about taking your potential date there, as this veers into extravagant promises you should avoid (see below).

Do Post Pictures

The right photo can be worth a thousand words in a personal ad — but be sure that it’s a clear photo that makes you look good. Consider getting a photo made from a professional photographer — and don’t make the setting too formal. You don’t want it to look like a prom picture. Wear attractive, casual clothing — and be sure to smile, because a too-serious demeanor will make you look like you don’t have a sense of humor. Also, consider adding props — a cowboy hat or fedora, or any type of clothing that reflects your personality.

Dating Don’ts

Don’t Oversell

Lines like “Angelina Jolie lookalike” won’t give you much credibility in the rest of your ad. Make yourself look good, but don’t exaggerate. Likewise, lines like “Wealthy entrepreneur wants to fulfill your wildest dreams” won’t attract anyone and will make you look suspicious. If you happen to be well-to-do, use a subtle phrase such as “financially well-to-do” or something similar. Don’t say “rich” or “wealthy” because people likely won’t believe you.

Don’t Come On Too Strong

Don’t make extravagant promises, such as “Want to go cruise through the rivers of Europe, or go on an African safari?” Likewise, don’t talk about things you’re planning for the future of the relationship. This ad is simply an introduction in which you should focus on yourself — your attributes, your interests and your lifestyle.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Be sure to include your age, your occupation, a bit about your lifestyle and whether or not you have children — all the basic things that a dating companion (even a casual one) should know.

One more tip: If you’re looking for online dating ads, you’ll definitely want to check out Whether you’re looking for apartments for rent, items to buy or personal dating ads, you’ll find thousands of listings from all over the country — and if you want to post a listing yourself (or reply to one), it’s absolutely free. Best of all, you can keep the ad up as long as you need to, or answer as many ads as you want until you find the right match.