How to Succeed with Online Personals - What Women Want

Written by Jennifer Strailey

What Women Want 

"What helps is to read the profiles of your same sex," admits Neil Brecher, a 30-something 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 40-something bicoastal bachelor who lives in Pittsburgh, PA 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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