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Subject: Usenet Personals: Advice for Straights FAQ (1/3)
This article was archived around: 24 May 2006 04:22:23 GMT
THE STRAIGHT FAQ: One straight male's thoughts and advice on successful use of
by Dean Esmay
First edition: 23 April 1995
Fifteenth edition: 17 December 1997
A World Wide Web-based version of this document can be found at
http://www.syndicomm.com/straight-faq.html for easier reading.
This entire document is Copyright 1995 and 1996 by Dean Esmay.
Permission is hereby granted to make and distribute verbatim copies
of this document provided the copyright notice and this permission
notice are preserved on all copies, and that all copies are reprinted
in full and without modification. To discuss permission for other
forms of copying or reprinting, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PART I OF III
I first began using online personal ads, mostly on the Usenet, back in
early January '95. I had just a few months earlier ended a
devastating relationship with a very nasty person, and I thought I
would try this as a new way of meeting people. I made a number of
mistakes, and had a lot of experiences good and bad. I've also traded
mail or talked to a lot of other people who used this method of
meeting others. I also noticed how certain questions (most
especially, "Do any women use this news group?") got asked over and
over and over again in the alt.personals group.
In the hopes of helping others find happiness, and to help cut down
on all the noise and nay-saying, this list of answers to Frequently
Asked Questions was born, and dubbed "The Straight FAQ" because its
primary emphasis, especially in the earliest versions, was on
answering those questions that seemed to be most often asked by
Though this FAQ is mostly for heterosexuals, there's also a version
available for gay people, written by Fred Young; if you're gay, you may
want to stop here and go look for The Not-So-Straight FAQ instead.
Any suggestions, criticisms, comments, questions, or proposed
additions on this FAQ should be sent to me via e-mail at
So anyway, let's get started, shall we?
Q: WHERE THE HELL ARE ALL THE WOMEN?!?!?
A: They're here, they're here! You just can't see them!
Seriously, there are a whole LOT of women using Usenet personals.
You just don't hear much from them. Here's what's really going on:
Right now, there are a whole lot more men than women online. The last
I personally heard, the number just for the U.S.A. was something like
four men for every one woman, at least on the commercial services.
AOL's current statistics currently say that about 78% of their users
are male. Other published figures claim that only 10% of all internet
users are women (Article: _A Woman's Place? in Cyberspace_ by Kris
Jensen, Atlanta Journal Constitution, January 8, 1995). On the other
hand, Nielson Media Research announced in 1995 that 66% of internet
users are male, but that these males account for 77% of internet
usage (http://www.commerce.net/), while in January of 1996, Emerging
Technologies Research Group said that 39% of those accessing the
internet are female, but that men are much more likely to use things
like Usenet and the World Wide Web--but with twice as many women as
men saying they plan on trying things like the Web in the future
How accurate these or any other numbers are, or how exactly they can
be applied to users of personal ads I cannot say. But clearly, there
are significantly more men hanging out online than women right now.
Compounding this aggravation seems to be that, for whatever reason,
women tend to be less comfortable posting ads than responding to
them. There are many theories as to why this is, and you can pick
any or all that appeal to you. Whatever your favorite explanation,
the fact still remains that for the most part, men post, and women
But make no mistake: despite all this, there are still an awful lot
of women out there. No question about it.
Q: OKAY, BUT I'M A WOMAN, AND I WANT TO POST AN AD ANYWAY!
A: Please do! Posting an ad can be a really good idea for a woman.
You'll probably get lots of responses. But there is a pitfall there:
because there are so many more men, and men are more used to
approaching women than vice-versa, you may be deluged with responses.
I'll have some advice for women on how to post an effective ad later
in this FAQ, but rest assured, no matter who you are, what your age,
what you look like, or what you do, if you are female and you post an
ad, you almost certainly WILL GET RESPONSES. Your only problem will
be getting responses that you actually want.
Q: DOES ANYONE EVER MEET ANYONE FROM HERE? IS THIS FOR REAL OR WHAT?
A: In January '95, when I posted my first ad, I received several
responses, and within a couple of weeks I met a beautiful woman who
was my lover for about six weeks. We're still friends. After the
romantic part of that relationship ended, I started re-posting my ad
every two weeks or so. During that time, I had email correspondence
with dozens of women, talked on the phone with ten or fifteen, and
had actual face-to-face encounters with a grand total of seven. In
May, a girl named Rosemary Kondraciuk (email@example.com) answered
my ad, and shortly thereafter I went off the market again.
On August 1, 1995 I asked Rosemary Kondraciuk to marry me, and
she agreed. We were married on 15 December, 1995.
My long-term goal was to find a lifelong partner, though I suspected
I'd never find the one who was right for me. But in any case, in the
short term I was happy just to meet and get to know new women, and
this method worked very well; between January and July I had dates
with about eleven women, four of whom I met through traditional
methods (chance encounters, friends, bars) and about seven who I met
online. The women online were always interesting because you could so
quickly find things you had in common. And now, even though I would
have been content to stay single, instead I've found my bride.
So yes, it really does happen, and it's not that tough. I'm not rich,
I'm not a bodybuilder, and I don't have Mel Gibson's looks, yet I've
met some terrific women this way. And I know I'm not alone, because
I've heard success stories from all sorts of other folks. Yes, it
DOES HAPPEN, and much of this FAQ is devoted to helping you figure
out how to make it happen FOR YOU.
Q: WHAT'S WITH ALL THE ADS FOR SEX? IS THAT ALL ANYONE IS LOOKING
A: Some people post ads looking for sex, extra-marital affairs, or
pornographic email. If that's what you're looking for, that's your
business, but I have no advice for you other than "be careful."
However, the fact is that there are TONS of people who are looking
for much more than that. It is for those of us who are looking for
something more meaningful that this FAQ is dedicated. Don't let all
the sex ads fool you; such people aren't really the majority, though
sometimes it may appear that way.
Q: ARE ALL THE WOMEN WHO USE ONLINE PERSONALS DESPERATE, UNATTRACTIVE,
PSYCHOTIC, OR NERDS?
A: From personal experience, I can give you a definite "no" to this
There are many reasons for a woman to use Usenet personals. It may be
that she can't meet guys any other way. But it may also be that
she's really gorgeous and wants a chance to meet a guy who'll get to
know her BEFORE finding out what she looks like. It may be that
she's just shy. It may be that she has a busy career and has no
other good way of meeting people. It may be that she's got kids and
doesn't have much chance to get out. It may be that she is highly
intelligent and has a hard time finding intelligent men in her
everyday life. It may be that she's stuck in the middle of nowhere
with few men around. Maybe she's just trying this for the fun of it.
Or maybe she just likes computers.
There are many good reasons to use personals ads. There's nothing at
all weird about a woman doing something like this.
Q: ARE ALL THE MEN WHO USE ONLINE PERSONALS DESPERATE, UNATTRACTIVE, PSYCHOTIC,
A: From personal experience I can't say too much, since I'm the only
guy I know who has done this regularly. I don't THINK I am any of the
For example, how many "nerds" or "losers" do you know who practice
karate, skydive, ride horses, and own their own businesses?
As for "desperate," well there have been times when I've been
desperate for company, but I've had a number of lovers in my
lifetime. I've even turned down women who wanted to be with me. I'm
a little shy but I've usually done okay.
There are many reasons for a guy to use personal ads. It may be that
he can't meet girls any other way. But it may also be that he's
really gorgeous and wants a chance to meet a woman who'll get to know
him BEFORE finding out what he looks like. It may be that he's shy.
It may be that he has a busy career and has no other good way of
meeting people. It may be that he's got kids and doesn't have much
chance to get out. It may be that he has a hard time finding
intelligent women in his everyday life. Or it may be that he's just
trying something like this just for the hell of it, to see what
Basically, there are many good reasons to use personals ads. There's
nothing at all weird about a man using something like this. It's
just one more way of meeting people, and a pretty good one if you do
Q: OKAY, YOU SAY THERE ARE LOTS MORE MEN THAN WOMEN. THAT'S GREAT IF
YOU'RE A WOMAN, BUT WHAT IF YOU'RE A MAN? ARE YOU SCREWED OR WHAT?
A: Absolutely not. You DO have a challenge here, but it's not hard
to overcome if you're intelligent and put a little effort into it.
More on that later.
Q: WHAT DO ALL THESE DAMNED ABBREVIATIONS LIKE "ISO" AND "SWM" AND
"G*M" and "SWCF" MEAN?
A: Not everyone uses these abbreviations, but, they are a common
shorthand for indicating marital status, race, sex, religion, and a
few other common things. The most prominently used ones include:
S = Single
D = Divorced
M = Married (rare)
W = Widowed (rare)
J = Jewish
C = Christian
W = White
B = Black
A = Asian (oriental)
H = Hispanic
M = Male
F = Female
G = Gay
Bi = Bisexual
Bi-Curious - Someone curious about bisexuality and thinking about
giving it a try.
* = Any
The positioning works as follows: First marital status, then religion
(if any given), then race, then sex. Usually what you get is three,
SWM - "Single White Male."
SWF - "Single White Female."
An M or a W are, VERY RARELY, used to indicate marital status. In
this case they are always in the first position:
MHM - Married Hispanic Male
WWF - Widowed White Female
Religious affiliation is fairly rare, but when you do see it, it
usually comes just before or after racial type, such as:
SCWF - Single Christian White Female
SWCF - Single White Christian Female
For whatever reason, Judaism and Christianity are the only religions
commonly abbreviated at this time; if you're of another religion, I
suggest not trying to abbreviate, as you'll probably just confuse
Sometimes you'll just see "SF" or "SM" for Single Male or Single
Female. This means the person doesn't want to indicate race. You
may also see something like "S*F" or "S*M". This is just another way
of saying race is irrelevent to the person.
Other abbreviations you might see include:
ISO = In Search Of
FTA = Fun, Travel, and Adventure
Soulmate = Someone I can be completely intimate with who will be with
me forever and ever, my perfect mate, my special lover and friend for
So. Here's common things you'll see:
GWM ISO G*M for FTA
(Gay White Male In Search Of Fun/Travel/Adventure with Gay Male of
WWF seeks soulmate.
(Widowed White Female seeks special mate-for-life.)
Finally, all of these are often concatenated with age and/or
location. Such as:
BOSTON DWM, 42, ISO SWF, 25-40
(Divorced White Male, 42 years old, living in Boston and In Search Of
a Single White Female, age 25 to 40.)
Not everyone uses these abbreviations, but a lot of people do,
because they make it easy for people to spot you and know if you're
at least in the ballpark of what they're looking for. You may see
variations on these abbreviations that you don't recognize, but
usually you can figure it out from context once you get the trick of
Q: HOW DO I WRITE MY OWN AD?
Ah, there's a whole lot to be said here, and the advice can vary a
lot. I'll concentrate on general advice for the moment, and on what
I personally think:
There is NOTHING more frustrating for the personals user than to
spend ten minutes reading an ad that sounds very interesting, only to
find out near the end that the person wants someone of a different
age, or body type, or that the person lives much too far away to
think about a relationship with.
So, do yourself and everyone else a favor and START EVERY AD WITH THE
BASICS ABOUT YOURSELF. The basics include:
A) Your SEX
B) Your AGE
C) WHERE you LIVE
D) Your RACE
E) What you are BASICALLY LOOKING FOR
And the best place to put all this is IN YOUR SUBJECT LINE. It saves
an ENORMOUS amount of time for EVERYBODY.
Some people are big fans of cute and creative subject line. For
MUTANT SEEKS MUTANT. LET'S TAKE OVER THE UNIVERSE!
Now this is pretty funny, and pretty clever. Unfortunately, if this
happen was from a Gay White Male, aged 42, who only wanted gay
black men in their 40s in Boston, I'm going to waste a lot of time
reading this ad, because I'm not gay, I'm not black, I'm under 40,
and I don't live anywhere near Boston! Why not make it easy on me and
Bostonian GWM, 42, ISO GBM, 40-50, for romance
Then make the first line of your ad say: "I'm a mutant looking for
another mutant, so we can take over the universe!" Another example
Bostonion Mutant seeks Mutant (GWM, 42, ISO GBM 40-50)
By making sure your subject line contains your basic information, you
will not only be doing everyone who would NOT be interested in you a
favor, but you will increase the likelihood of someone who DOES want
to meet you of actually spotting your ad.
All right, you've given a nice, concise, descriptive title to your
message. Now you need to put some thought into the ad itself. The
general advice I can give there is:
A) DON'T RUSH. You have plenty of time to write this. Make it good.
B) PUT SOME EFFORT INTO SPELLING & PUNCTUATION, and try not to
ramble. You want to make a good impression.
C) BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT AND WHAT YOU DON'T WANT. If you're
picky about something, it's better to say so in your ad than to let
someone down later. "Please, if you're overweight, don't respond" may
seem cruel or thoughtless, but if that's the way it is for you, SAY
SO. It is much, much kinder than developing a relationship with
someone who you have to shoot down later than just telling it like it
is up front.
What's better, disappointing someone BEFORE they waste their time
getting to know you, or after they've gotten their hopes up?
D) BE AS HONEST AS POSSIBLE. Lies will only get you in trouble
E) DO YOUR BEST TO BE TOTALLY SINCERE. Insincerity frequently shows,
even if you're not aware of it. True sincerity usually shines
through and is much more attractive to most people.
F) BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR OWN SHORTCOMINGS. Don't harp on them, but
man, avoid discomfort for yourself and others and just let 'em know
up front who and what you are and are not. Saying you don't want
long-term committment, or that you're overweight, or that you have
kids, or that you have bad skin, or that you have no fashion sense,
or that you WANT marriage and kids, will be lots better than getting
close to someone who finds out later and wishes they hadn't bothered
G) TAKE AS MUCH SPACE AS YOU NEED.
This last is an issue on which there is some disagreement. The
general FAQ for alt.personals advises posters to keep messages short
and to the point, and to try to keep them to one screenful.
These days, most people have...
[continued in Part II]