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Singles Ads: The Quest for Mr. or Ms. Right Can Be Full of Surprises

September 09, 1988|SUSAN CHRISTIAN | Susan Christian is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

"Hi. Maybe I'm looking for you," begins 78M70's one-third page ad in Los Angeles magazine. "I'm very successful, having made a great deal of money, and now I want to find someone very special to share my life with."

Over the past three months, 78M70 has spent $5,560--not including 40 to 50 restaurant tabs-- in search of Ms. Right. He is "an established Medical professional, aged 44 . . . caring, intelligent, sensuous." She must be "28 to 35 years of age . . . , good looking--and very thin . . . and wanting to raise a family."

So far, more than 100 women have answered 78M70's advertisements--about half of whom he arranged to meet. Yet the elusive Ms. Right remains elusive.

"The ones I liked didn't like me, and the ones who liked me I didn't like," he said, expressing the age-old lament.

However, 78M70, a licensed social worker in Los Alamitos, has not lost faith. "I'm extremely pleased with the quality of people who respond," he said.

Many women preface their letters to him with "I've never done this before. . . ."

"They are embarrassed to be writing, as if it means that they are hard-up," 78M70 said. "But I think the stigma attached to singles ads is silly."

Of course, looking for love in the singles section of a magazine can cost considerably less than the three display ads (at $1,820 each) taken out by 78M70. A small classified ad averages about $100 in both Los Angeles and Orange Coast magazines and considerably less in smaller publications.

F1048 took the cheaper route--as do most singles advertisers. After running four ads in Orange Coast seeking a "civilized, energetic friend/lover/partner," the 39-year-old SWF (single white female) gives the technique high marks.

"I got four or five responses per occurance," said F1048, a university administrator in Irvine who moved to Orange County last year. "The psychological benefits are wonderful. I no longer feel that there is a shortage of men. Now I know there are zillions of available men in my age group who are desperate to get married."

She has rendezvoused with five of the letter writers--"in public places, in broad daylight, for coffee or brunch"--most of whom she continued dating.

One person she contacted, but never met, turned out to be neither scrupulous nor single. "He would call me at odd hours--1 a.m. on a work night," she said. "Finally I tnld him I wasn't interested. Later a hysterical woman called; she'd gone through the phone bill and found the toll calls her husband had made to me."

But overall, the experience has been positive, although she doesn't advertise her advertisements to friends. "Anybody who has not done this thinks it's weird," F1048 said. "I made a pact with one man that we would not tell each other's friends how we met: 'Say we met on a street corner--anything but through a singles ad.' "

BWN (P.O. Box 5086, Los Alamitos, 90721) also sings the praises of advertising for a companion. The 44-year-old sales representative has placed a few spots in Orange Coast.

"I've been more than pleased with the caliber of people who have responded--attorneys, doctors, bank vice presidents," he said. "I've met about 10, but ended up dating only one of them."

"Let's Fly to Hawaii or Europe," his ad flirts. BWN explained that he does "a lot of business traveling, so I've accumulated a lot of frequent-flier mileage. . . . I thought, here's a way that I can catch someone's attention."

Divorced after 11 years of marriage, BWN found himself feeling lonely while on a business trip in San Francisco. "I telephoned the magazine and dictated the ad long-distance," he said.

Also recently divorced, F1046 complained that "meeting intelligent, eligible men is very difficult."

"I was married to a doctor for 15 years; we were both Phi Beta Kappas," said the 36-year-old attorney, who lives in Irvine. "It's hard to meet someone of that caliber."

F1046 has received only half a dozen replies, perhaps because she scripted "an intentionally intimidating ad":

"Pretty, successful corporate attorney . . . well traveled . . . enjoys cinema, theater, classical music, N.Y. Times, seeks financially secure SJM (Single Jewish Male) . . . sensitive, intellectual. . . ."

"I'm only interested in men who are self-confident enough that they are not intimidated by a successful woman," she said.

Though in the same vein as F1046's, the self-confident ad penned by M1042 did anything but scare off women--rather, it garnered 40 fan letters. "Successful, handsome, 34-year-old physician, Eastern-bred, Ivy educated . . . lives in Newport (Beach) . . , " it boasted.

Why would a young, upwardly mobile doctor need to advertise in the classifieds for a date? "The old cliche: I don't like going out with co-workers," he said. "And outside of work, it's just very hard to find people you feel compatible with."

Yes, he exaggerated a bit in his ad.

" 'Handsome' maybe be an overstatement," he good-naturedly volunteered. "You have to use those adjectives. I wouldn't say I'm Paul Newman, but I'm attractive."

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