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1695: The First Personal Ads According to history professor H. Cocks (seriously --The Best Name Ever for an academic) personal ads began as a way to help British bachelors find eligible wives.One of the earliest personals ever placed was by a 30-year-old man, with "a very good estate', announcing he was in search of 'some good young gentlewoman that has a fortune of £3,000 or thereabouts." (£3,000 is equivalent to roughly £300,000 today.It was the mayor, who had her Women asking for what they want -- clearly delusional to 18th century dudes.
Hardly a week goes by without another new think piece about online dating either revolutionizing society or completely ruining our ability to have real relationships.If a match resulted, it is unlikely that you boasted the fact to your friends, Cocks said."You probably wouldn't talk about it if you were very respectable," he said.Matrimonial agencies were big business there by the early 18th century, printing ads on behalf of men who paid the agency to recruit them a good wife.Being single passed the age of 21 was considered almost shameful in that era, and the ads were often a last resort for the men who advertised and the women who read them."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.The difference between the personal ads of the previous centuries and today's is the age of those using Internet dating sites, according to statistics.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.Internet sites tend to favor older singles, many of whom turn to the technology after a divorce or traditional forms of courtship have failed, Cocks said.In between, the social acceptance of personals has waxed and waned with the times."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.