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Show ALL Forums  > Dating Experiences  > Were newspaper personals better than online personals?      Home login  
Were newspaper personals better than online personals?Page 1 of 2    (1, 2)
They weren't necessarily better or worse, just different in some respects, while very similar in others. You indeed had a per word fee, so all of the now common abbreviations we know (SWM iso LTR w/SWF, and so on), came from that period. Initially there was a social stigma about being so "desperate" that you had to post an ad in a local paper, much like there was at first with online dating, but then that faded and became acceptable, but placing an ad in a paper had more of a sense of commitment to the process. Naturally, the prerequisite horror stories made the rounds and took on the status of urban legends, about nightmare experiences when meeting someone that way, and a few movies were made too (anyone remember "Sea of Love" with Al Pacino? great movie BTW!). There wasn't any instant, superficial rejection based only on a posted picture; I know I looked for clever, sometimes humorous, and always well-written ads (much like I still do with profiles online) and hoped that their description was at least honest. From there you quickly moved on to a phone conversation. I must say I do miss the opportunity to hear a voice initially, where inflection, nuance, sense of humor, so much of a person's personality, come thru loud and clear, and aren't lost as they so often are in an email. Then a meeting sooner than later typically, rather than an endless stream of messages back and forth. Sure you took your chances in that regard too, and often ended up meeting people who didn't quite match the image they had painted for you while you were talking on the phone, but that happens with online dating quite often as well. I guess what I liked about it most was that it was more "personal", for lack of a better word. It seemed like you met more people, and if they weren't what you expected, or you just weren't a good match, you politely went your separate ways. Now people sit attached to their keyboards, hide behind the anonymity the internet affords and take a lot fewer chances putting themselves out there. That might save them from some bad dates (not dangerous ones, just the typical funny, "bad" dates we all have in our pasts, and that make for the best stories), but it also keeps them from getting out more often and getting used to meeting strangers, even ones that might become friends or more.
Joined: 12/13/2006
Msg: 6
Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 3/31/2009 4:23:28 PM
Over the past thirty years, I have answered a few times. Read one or another sometimes more, religiously, lol! Met about half the guys, including one clear across the country. Nothing special, but no bummers, and no Mr. Goodbars either. I never put an ad in -- too expensive. I *did* once put an ad here in the local paper, looking for a Quaker Meeting. Several fellas mistook that for wanting to meet a Quaker, and although they weren't, they were good God-fearing men. . . . Did NOT meet any of these fellas. . . .

Joined: 9/16/2007
Msg: 7
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Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 3/31/2009 8:09:22 PM
Before there was the I-Net there was a form of newspaper personals which were different from the older "lonely hearts" type of personals people used to put in the classifieds.

These were free to put up, would run for several weeks, and those interested called a 1-900 number and got charged something like $1.50 - $2.50 per minute to listen to a short (1-2 min) voice greeting and leave a short message back with their contact info. An ensuing phone conversation was likely to lead to an intial meetup with little difficulty if that went more or less okay. Over the couple of years before the I-Net came along I met maybe as many as 15-20 women this way. I recall getting discouraged with the lack of decent results and giving it up for 4-6 months before jumping back in and giving it another try, because there they were every week in the local indy paper.

But, as with the I-Net, there were many messages which just disappeared into a black hole, men who placed ads got many fewer responses than women, and it was more or less the same sort of population of singles as are now on the I-Net (i.e., the dregs for the most part). I'd feel lucky if I heard back from one of the 3 or 4 I'd respond to when I would feel like taking a chance and blowing the $15-20 it would require to listen to and respond to that many ads, and on the flip side if I got one response a week when I placed an ad that seemed like a good rate.

So in some senses it was slightly better or not that much different than online personals. The nature of the medium did require one to focus more on the basics/essentials, since you can't ramble on in a 5 line ad or be overly trivial and verbose when the meter's running, so all the getting-to-know-you stuff would wait until the back-and-forth of the first phone conversation, which I actually think is a better and more natural way than the current practice of profiles and email messages, which are more like monologues.
Joined: 1/15/2007
Msg: 9
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Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 4/3/2009 3:22:12 PM

you word your place can't tweak it, it stays just the way it is for a week or two. The person reading your ad can't just sit back and wait for you to write something directly to them...they must write to you if they want something to it's more proactive. don't you people always complain about the communication being such a one way street here?

so they put pen to paper (the forgotten art of letter writing) and write to you. And it's a good letter, too...i don't think anyone ever wrote a simple "hello" as a letter and then followed up with another letter..."so are you interested?" No, people wrote the best letters they could. I think you were meant to include a photo with the letter. don't you people always complain about the low quality emails you get?

And then the person would write back and enclose their photo with a phone number, you call, you set up a meeting. Photos are photos, they are of little more help now than they were then. In fact, some people are probably still using the same photos from back then!

I suppose phone calls and/or letters could go back and forth for a bit but I don't recall anyone ever mentioning that or at least not complaining about it.

My experience: One night, about a month after breaking up with a boyfriend, I got out a pen and some nice, well, cute anyway, stationary and I sat down and, in my own naive fashion, responded to, I don't know, probably 5 to 7 ads and sent my letters out. I received letters back from most of them--no surprise, I put a lot of effort into those letters--and met all of them. I remember one man was a little heavier than I would have liked but still quite nice. Other than that, they were all just fine. One I dated for a while, another I dated for awhile and then we were friends after that.

You know, one plus, you didn't have to worry about being out with them and they'd pull in front of a post office and run in and check their mail!
Joined: 3/8/2007
Msg: 11
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Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 4/4/2009 8:07:33 PM
No but I have thought about it...I still read one or two that I see but I still would go this way...

Pictures say a thousand words but still hides many untruths.
Joined: 7/30/2008
Msg: 13
Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 4/5/2009 6:59:26 AM
Hi OP... I love how younger folks refer to the 80s as "the old days"! lol

Yes, I have used newspaper ads on many occasions as well as a radio station "match maker". The major problem (in my opinion) with the ads was that you had to rent one of their boxes, then the person would write to you in care of the newspaper. And the paper would forward the responses. This could often take 2 - 3 weeks. I did meet a number of nice women this way and had some enjoyable dates.

Online dating, while not perfect certainly, at least has the advantage of allowing you to make contact immediately.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
Joined: 4/1/2012
Msg: 16
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Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 10/3/2015 3:29:50 PM
Back in the early 1990's, I was in my 20's and worked retail (every weekend, 2 irons----10am to 10pm, and 3 nights per week). Add to that, even as a young pup, I was never into the nightclub/bar scene; so, being the risk-taker that I am, I placed and answered personal ads.

I had very good experiences and met much better looking women than I have online. Could be that there were no appearance based expectations. I met 6 women. 2 were gorgeous. 2 were average. 2 were unfortunate looking. I ended up dating one of the gorgeous ones off and on for 8 years. As a matter of fact, we still talk on the phone once every Blue moon.

Very good chance that I could have dated the other gorgeous one as well, except I was in the process of a divorce when I met her, and she wasn't having that.

In theory, one could use online personal ads in the same way (only replying to people with no photo), but I think it just would not be the same: 1) because you're more likely to take risks when younger, 2) because it is just a different time (people want instant gratification & media has conditioned us to expect higher levels of attractiveness..........................think about it, virtually everyone you see on TV or in movies is 'hawt'), and 3) if I recall correctly, BOTH parties had to pay (the writer had to pay by the word or by the line and the responder had to dial a 1-900 number to answer the ad), and therefore BOTH parties had 'skin in the game' and were invested; as compared to online today, where A LOT of women get dumped on a Thursday, snap a fish-faced selfie in their bathroom mirror, next to the toilet on Saturday, and write, "Ask me". And, because it cost them little or nothing, they are not serious and have no intent on meeting anyone. It's largely just an ego boost and/or response to their emotions of the breakup.

I'm VERY glad that I came up in the pre-Internet/pre-cellphone/pre-Social Media era. Wouldn't trade my experiences for all the money in China.
Joined: 8/13/2007
Msg: 17
Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 10/5/2015 9:09:51 AM
Well, yes and no. There were 2 kinds of written ads that I know of. There were possibly more.

One involved nothing more than characters placed in particular sequences. No images just words.

The more advanced method involved reading a person's Ad in the paper or possibly some other place - for free of course - and IF the ad generated enough interest - you could call and listen to their more detailed [hopefully] Ad in a telephone recording at $2.99 a minute and later "only" 2.49 a minute. The advantages and disadvantages should be obvious here. Of note is that when I used this system to meet my last [and LAST] X wife, cell phones were for the rich folks only and were as big as loaves of bread and likely weighed at least 10 pounds. This was very early 90's. Your choice to either leave THEM a VM or move on to the next recording and then it was their choice to get back to you. LD rates on landlines to various areas of the country were probably still 25 cents a minute or more as best as I can remember.

The advantages of a HEARING a voice of a potential "mate" of some type back then - even if just a recording - is no different than now. And today as cheap as phone rates have gotten and as cheap as memory storage has gotten, it SHOULD BE a slam dunk for a similar system to generate billions possibly with video clips instead of audio clips only...

EXCEPT for the Reality of today's world. Having nothing more than static possibly "altered/enhanced" images coupled with arrangements of symbols for folks to interpret makes it so very easy to be VVVV

The ONLY way to counteract this ^^^^ is to get to the phone or a F2F MEET ASAP.
Joined: 10/12/2013
Msg: 18
Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 10/5/2015 9:24:26 AM
I looked at personal ads on newspapers for fun. Many people there had a long list of requirements. In that regard, it wasn't much different than OLD.
Joined: 2/14/2010
Msg: 19
Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 10/5/2015 12:17:48 PM
^^^The same here-looked them just for fun. What I found a bit crazy is a lot of them said "When replying, must include at least one current picture." So someone will judge a person based on a picture, but you don't get to see a picture of them, unless you set up a date/first meet to see what they look like. Plus back then, there were no cell phones with cameras. So someone would have to use an actual camera that had no other function than to take pictures, which is bizarre to think of nowadays. The picture rule is also the rule most of the time with on-line dating, but it's easier to disregard someone on line than writing out a letter and sending it by snail mail. Does anybody know how to write using cursive anymore?
Joined: 6/16/2007
Msg: 20
Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 10/5/2015 1:20:00 PM
hey, I used to do these things. Called the tech support line one time after no answers, to see if maybe just maybe my messages weren't getting saved somehow. I guess being able to post for free does invite the flakes, and not having the technology to put in pictures means no one judges you for not having them.

the only people who contacted me were...the ones who initially responded to my ad. One talked and talked about her problems and didn't bother to meet, the other two agree to meet (come to think of it, one looked a bit like WiP, wouldn't that be funny. we didn't click, and on the way back she was driving, got pulled over, couldn't find her insurance paperwork so the cop followed us to where I parked my car and I had to drive her to her house to get her paperwork to drive her home. so much for being secure on a first date, huh?). the other met, seemed to be OK, called herself "Persian" to avoid the word "Iranian" (i'm assuming) then moved away with her family.

come to think of it, not a lot has changed in the response rate :) if someone contacts me first, they're actually interested.
Joined: 9/10/2011
Msg: 21
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Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 10/5/2015 5:25:39 PM
From my viewpoint, they were. I dated several nice ladies. I think that if one dated that way, it wasn't talked about among friends, because it was kind of embarrassing to admit that we resorted to the "classifieds" for dates.

Nowadays, everyone freely admits to OLD. Stories are shared, and it tends to undermine and sabotage the whole process. Player labels get hung, horror stories about men expecting sex on the first date. Makes it all a big fiasco.
Joined: 5/13/2014
Msg: 22
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Were newspaper personals better than online personals?
Posted: 10/6/2015 8:06:08 PM
I vaguely recall getting a handwritten letter from a guy way back in the 80's Not sure if it was from a newspaper ad, must have been though.
Writing a letter requires more effort than sending an online message, so people were more serious about meeting someone.
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