Love In The Classifieds – Do You Dare?

Reading the “personals” column in the newspaper used to be a source of great amusement for many of us and our friends. We certainly wouldn’t have considered answering an ad, much less placing such an ad!

Times have changed. So much so that placing classified personal ads and responding to them has become a very acceptable way of meeting people.

Do only the “desperate and dateless” place ads? Are they the only ones who respond? No. People of all age ranges, from all income levels, and with varied interests use the personal columns. The hectic pace of today’s world, and a lack of ways to meet other suitable singles makes the classifieds an acceptable alternative.

Sandi and Jack

Sandi met Jack, her current boyfriend, through the classifieds. Sandi is a very attractive middle-aged blonde who runs her own company. She doesn’t look like someone who would have trouble getting a date. She had been divorced for about six months when she decided to respond to classified personal ads in a local newspaper.

“I hadn’t dated anybody since my divorce. I didn’t want to go to a bar because they’re full of men who pick up women every night. I didn’t want to meet that kind of man.”

So why the classifieds? A lot of people would hesitate doing something like that. “My girlfriend placed an ad in the newspaper, and I thought, gosh, she must be desperate! I wanted somebody to go fishing with me. I like camping and fishing.”

“I decided to listen to some of the messages so I called and Jack said he liked country dancing, going to the beach, that type of thing. Actually, he was a wrong number. His ad wasn’t in the paper yet. I punched in a wrong number and got his message. I liked the way he sounded.”

“I also called two other men. One of them I went out with and he scared me to death! Jack and I hit it off right away. We met in a public place and we’ve gotten along great since then.”

The other man, how did he scare her? “He was aggressive. And he wasn’t clean. He sounded okay over the phone, so we met in a public place, and I went out with him one time. But that was it, he just wasn’t my type at all. I think you can tell a lot about the person by their message.”

“One of the men I called said ‘okay, ladies,’ like he’s looking for more than one. Anything about a man being a playboy turns me off. I thought, he’s not looking for just one person to go out with, he’s looking for a number of them. I didn’t respond to that one.”

“Another man described his waterfront home, his boat, and his kid. I didn’t call him either. I told Jack that if he’d put ‘extremely affectionate’ in the ad, I’d have never called him. I don’t want the kind of person who hangs all over you.”


Carl lives in south Florida. A tall, handsome businessman in his mid-forties, Carl’s marriage of seventeen years failed four years ago. His hobby is sailing. He says he wants to meet someone who shares his love of the sea. Placing classified ads in sailing publications as well as local newspapers is one way that he continues to search for a ‘first mate.’

Carl knows exactly the type of person he wants to meet: a petite, pretty, long haired blonde business professional, non-smoking social drinker, who likes to dance, is well read, and doesn’t have children. She, of course, must either like boating or be willing to learn.

Carl dates a lot, meeting dates through the classifieds, either responses to his ads or responding to ads himself, through a dating service and by meeting women at business functions. Carl knows that the more people he meets, the greater chance he has of finding his ideal mate.

The First Step

Perhaps you’re not ready to even consider placing a classified ad – or responding to one – but you’re curious. It used to be that the only way you could respond to someone’s ad was to send them a letter. You had no way of knowing anything about the person other than what they wrote in their few word ad (and someone else could have done that for them).

Today’s classifieds, in most cases, offer an opportunity to call a toll number and listen to a personal message by the ad writer. You then have the opportunity of leaving a message so they may contact you if they’re interested or you can say nothing and exit the system or listen to another message. A word of caution here: you can end up with quite a large telephone bill since these services average $2 and more a minute.

Now you get a chance to hear the person talk, and listen to his or her likes and dislikes. While you may have been intrigued by their written ad, their vocal message may be a total turnoff. Or, the message might be interesting enough that you decide to leave your own message.

Don’t sit by the phone waiting for a return call, though. If you liked their ad so probably did a number of others. The best phone message will get a return call. And, don’t take it personally if your call isn’t returned. There is no obligation on the person placing the ad to respond to every caller

Harriett and Henry

When Harriett’s husband died after a long illness she felt completely lost. They had shared a long and happy life together and at first she felt an obligation to live the rest of her life alone. As time went on she came to feel that maybe, just maybe, it would be nice to meet someone with whom to share the remainder of her life. Having married young and having been married so long, she didn’t know how to meet suitable men.

When her daughter suggested Harriett read the classified personal ads she laughed. And then she read a few. Henry’s ad seemed to pop off the page at her. A widower who was tired of being alone, he sounded like the man she was looking for, someone who would understand the death of a spouse and the dilemna of dating again.

After several phone conversations, Harriett agreed to meet Henry early Sunday afternoon at a very busy shopping mall. He would be carrying a specific newspaper tucked under his arm and she would be wearing a red carnation. Unfortunately for her, several men showed up with newspapers. Fortunately for them both, they did meet, took an instantaneous liking to each other and several months later were married.

“I really thought about leaving,” said Harriett. “And I might have if he hadn’t been a few minutes early. I knew it was him right away!”

Caution and Common Sense

Responding to a classified ad could open the door to unexpected grief. Common sense should prevail when making contact. If you do choose to respond, your response should not include your last name, your address or your telephone number.

So, how is this person going to get back in contact with you? If you are going to respond to classified personals, a post office box would be a good investment.

Additionally, while you don’t want to give your home phone number, if you have one of the “message line” or mailbox services provided by the telephone company, you can give your message line phone number. Your caller will be diverted directly to your personal message line and if, at a later time you wish to provide your home telephone number, that will be your option. The only downside to using the message line for phone calls is that the line does not ring at your home – you must check your messages regularly.

First meetings should be in public places with lots of people around. Meeting mid-day for coffee at a local restaurant is a good idea. Your first meeting should be short so that you can make a quick and easy getaway should your date prove less than compatible.

Meeting through the classifieds is not perfect nor is it recommended for the faint of heart.

© Pat Gaudette