Dating newspaper articles

Dating sites now suit the older single Personal ads became relatively 'acceptable' by the mid to late 1990s, say experts, helped in no small part by the explosion of Internet use.

More and more elements of people's lives, including love, have gone online in the last few years, and self-promotion on the Internet in general is now just a fact of life."Short self-descriptions aren't only the preserve of Internet daters, they are also the essence of things like Facebook and other social networking sites," said Cocks.

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Almost everyone these days can name a couple they know that met on the Internet, though it wasn't so long ago that skimming the online personals for love was considered strange, even a bit desperate. Personal ads have a history going back at least 300 years, according to a new book on the subject entitled "Classified: The Secret History of the Personal Column" (Random House Books, 2009).

"Advertising for a husband or wife has always attracted criticism and the people who did it were always thought of as failures in some way.

However advertising like this has a long and unbroken history, and was used by many people with some success," Cocks said.

Many of the postings were simply calls for friends or pen pals, becoming especially popular among single servicemen, called "lonely soldiers," during World War I."At that time advertising for pals or for lonely soldiers was fashionable and contemporary — something done by those who were, as they put it in their ads, 'bohemian and unconventional,'" Cocks said.

The core demographic of those publicly "looking for love" has been turned on its head, with people settling down and marrying much later (if at all) in Western cultures.

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Like the latter, though, it took some time for the personal ad to be accepted by the Mom-and-Pop public."In Britain, the personal column was suspected (much like the Internet is now) of harboring all sorts of scams, perversities and dangerous individuals.

At least that is what the police tended to think, and they only stopped prosecuting lonely hearts ads in the late 1960s — until then they often thought that they were mainly placed by prostitutes and gay men," Cocks said.

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