Manassas Journal Messenger | Personal ads reveal a little social commentary

Have you ever taken the time to read the “Personals Plus” ads that run weekly in one of the area’s major newspapers? You should. The ads say much about how we view ourselves and what kind of expectations we have for persons of the opposite sex.

There are ads for women seeking men and also for men seeking women, but the former are more numerous, by a ratio of approximately 3 to 2. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? Logically, we might think that men (stereotypically more aggressive than women) would dominate the ads, but they don’t.

Maybe the ratio suggests that modern women are more assertive than in previous years. If so, that would be a good thing.

Other interesting aspects of the ads include how we describe ourselves and how we describe the person we are seeking. Both men and women use adjectives that highlight physical attributes, but they differ in specifics.

Women commonly use words such as leggy, pretty, attractive, slim, alluring, young looking, petite, tall, cute and full-figured [this last adjective is perhaps a kind way of describing a physique shaped by too many hamburgers and french fries]. Men use adjectives such as tall, handsome, athletic, young-at-heart [means somewhat older, I guess], rugged and muscular. Some ads, however, are conspicuously lacking in these attention-getting adjectives. Does that mean that the person is plain, overweight, balding, older, unathletic, maybe paunchy?

Women invariably seek men who are honest [mentioned most frequently], sincere, easygoing, funny, educated, caring, healthy, tall, fit and respectful. Interestingly, the adjective “handsome” rarely appears [plain men take heart!].

Men describe the woman of their dreams as attractive [mentioned the most], intelligent, beautiful, petite, “with nice legs,” sexy and slim. I guess women with average looks and intelligence need not apply.

Women appear to be flexible when it comes to the age of the man they are seeking. A 56 year-old woman, for example, says she wants a man 51-61 years of age [but I suppose men 62+ would still be considered]. Similarly, a “classy, fit, attractive 49 year-old woman” seeks a man 48-55. In most cases, however, women do not specify a particular age range for a potential mate [which I consider a good sign].

Men, on the other hand, appear to be quite concerned about the age of any female who might come into their lives. Most men want a woman who is significantly younger than they are. Some middle-aged men think nothing about stating that only attractive, twentysomething women should respond to their ads [lesson for women: this male foible gives you license to lie about your age].

Some ads are humorous, perhaps unintentionally. Consider: “Gorgeous, exciting, charming cowboy, with stamina and class, seeks young, beautiful, sweet, kind woman.” Just what every woman is seeking – a classy cowboy.

Also, many ads include the person’s astrological sign. I guess that means Virgos should avoid those quarrelsome Scorpios and instead seek persons born under the sign of Aquarius [who, we all know, are better lovers].

Personals Plus ads are probably more helpful than not. Certainly there is no harm in such ads as long as the participants have realistic rather than fanciful expectations. A couple of words of caution: if an ad describes a person who seems too good to be true, that’s probably the case.

Gary Jacobsen, a Libra, lives in Woodbridge.

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