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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

All FAQs in Directory: personals/straightfaq
All FAQs posted in: alt.personals, alt.personals.ads, alt.personals.fat, alt.personals.misc, alt.vegas.personals, alt.nv.personals
Source: Usenet Version

Archive-name: personals/straightfaq/part1 Posting-Frequency: bi-weekly Version: 1.99
=========================================== THE STRAIGHT FAQ: One straight male's thoughts and advice on successful use of Usenet personals. 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 esmay@syndicomm.com. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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 straights. 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 esmay@syndicomm.com. 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 (http://etrg.findsvp.com/features/newinet.html). 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 respond. 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 (rose@syndicomm.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 FOR? 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 one. 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, OR NERDS? 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 above though. 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 happens. 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 things right! 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, such as: 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 people. 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 life. 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 any race.) 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 it. 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 example: 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 start with: 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 might be: 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 later. 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 with you. 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. Baloney! These days, most people have... [continued in Part II]