The History of Online Dating From 1695 to Now

Before they went mainstream, personals were a way for same-sex couples to discreetly connect.

Has the Internet really revolutionized dating? Or is hijacking tech for love and sex just what humans do?

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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. But these hyperbolic pronouncements miss a deeper fact:

At its core, “online dating” isn’t something we just started doing 5, 10 or even 20 years ago. Before the Internet, there were personal ads, and before that, lonely shepherds carved detailed works of art into tree bark to communicate their longing for human contact.

Since the earliest days of mass media and technology, people have been finding ways to broadcast their desires and find connections that might have otherwise eluded them. I mean, one could argue that even Voyager 1’s Golden Record is kind of a massive, interstellar personal ad (complete with the recorded sound of a kiss!) out to the universe. It’s as if humanity decided to document all our best features and send them into space with this message:

Lonely humans seek extraterrestrial lifeforms in Milky Way or nearby. Open to all body types.

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The modern newspaper was invented in 1690, and the first personals followed soon after. So dating apps are really the latest manifestation of human beings doing what we’ve always done — create new tools to communicate and then turn around and use those tools to find love, sex, and companionship.

1695: The First Personal Ads
According to history professor H.G. 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 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. #ShamelesslySeekingSugarMomma…)

The 1700s: Personal Ads for Homosexual Safety
Personal ads were one of the only ways for the gay and lesbian communities to meet discreetly and safely at this time. Less-Than-Fun fact: homosexuality was outlawed and punishable by death in the UK by wife-murderer Henry VIII and continued to be illegal until 1967. During this time, gathering sites for gay men known as Molly Houses were subject to regular raids by law enforcement. (Meanwhile, in the future U.S.A., anyone accused of being a “sodomite” doing “buggery” was also legally sentenced to death as of 1776.) Coded words, female names and other signals in personals were channels to privately expressing vulnerability and find companionship that society forbade.

1727: Women Get Smacked Down for Expressing Personal Desire
In 1727, Englishwoman Helen Morrison became the first woman to place an ad in a Lonely Hearts column. She convinced the editor of the Manchester Weekly Journal to place a small ad stating she was “seeking someone nice to spend her life with.” (It’s radical, I know…..)

A man responded to Helen, but it was not the man she was hoping for. It was the mayor, who had her committed to an insane asylum for four weeks.

Women asking for what they want — clearly delusional to 18th-century dudes.

The 1800s: Aristocrats Catch On
Always on the lookout for ways to exploit media for their own ends, aristocrats in the 1800s used personal ads to broadcast their interest in romantic engagements that seem scandalous by today’s standards. An 1841 ad in the Journal of Munich tells of a 70-year-old Baron seeking a woman “between 16 and 20 having good teeth and little feet.”

(Well… maybe not that much has changed for the one percent? )

Mid-1800s: The General Public Follows
In the mid-19th century, the need to advertise for a husband or wife was still considered a “failure” and associated with deviant behavior for many judgmental straight, white, middle-to-upper class people. But as magazines and periodicals such as The Wedding Bell in the US and The Correspondent, Matrimonial Herald and Marriage Gazette in the UK hit the newsstands with immense popularity, matchmaking and personals took off as well, creating the first wave of true mainstream normalization for the personal ad.

The late 1800s: The Scam Emerges
You know, someone’s always got to ruin the party. The popularity of personals paved the way for grifters who soon realized that they could prey on the vulnerability of people seeking love. Scam artists caused a scandal that many newspapers ran with, and personals disappeared practically overnight as public attitudes became more cautious. Phishing, fake profiles, and ads for escorts continue this tradition today.

The early 1900s: The Lonely Rural Farmers, Ranchers, and Shepherds
Around the turn of the last century, personal ads enjoyed a renaissance of popularity, especially in the Western US with low populations and the harsh realities of rural life without a partner. (Farmers Only continues the legacy to find “where all the country girls are” today.)

Some very pragmatic examples of early 20th-century personals:

HOUSEKEEPER: 18 to 30 years of age, wanted by widower, 40. Have prominent position with the rail company, have a 75-acre ranch also house in town; object matrimony if suited; have a boy 13 years old, would not object to housekeeper having a child. Can give best references.

A young woman, reared in luxury, having lost everything and earned her living for the past eight years, is tired of teaching and wishes a home: would like to meet a well-to-do businessman who would appreciate refinement and affection in a wife. Object: matrimony.

If only these two had found each other’s personals then…..

The 1920s: Lonely WWI Soldiers Seek Pen Pals
Personal ads went mainstream again in the early 20th century, when social pressures to get married by 21 (and thus, expectations for relationships) were much lower, thankfully than their earlier incarnations. Many of the postings were simply calls for friends or pen pals. These kinds of ads were especially fashionable among lonely soldiers during World War I.

The 1960s: Counterculture and Computer Love
Removed from the context of wartime, old stigmas crept back in. Like the Internet today, lonely hearts ads were suspected of harboring all sort of scams and perversities. Because they were often used by homosexuals and sex workers, British police continued to prosecute those who placed personals until the late 1960s, when ads became part of the burgeoning youth counterculture.

Meanwhile, a new technology was emerging. In 1965, a team of Harvard undergrads created Operation Match, the world’s first computer dating service. For $3, users could answer questionnaires and receive a list of potential matches, a process that is still used by many dating sites.

1990s-2000s: Second Wave of Mainstream
The explosion of the Internet in the mid-to-late 1990s created a new context for personals, and by the end of the decade, they had become relatively acceptable. Even before the Web itself, bulletin boards and newsgroups hosted a variety of ways people could use technology to meet others with similar interests, including dating. Services such as America Online, Prodigy and eventually Craigslist offered chat rooms, forums and online classifieds of use to singles. By the time Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan AOL’d each other in You’ve Got Mail, it had become clear that the Internet was going to change every aspect of our lives forever — including love and romance. Match.com was founded in 1995, and by 2007, online dating had become the second highest online industry for paid content. (….Can you guess what’s #1?)

2010 – Today
By 2010, different dating sites existed for virtually every city, sexual orientation, religion, race and almost every hobby, making it easier to find exactly what we’re looking for and harder to stumble on someone who exists outside our pre-defined bubbles of identity.

In 2002, Wired Magazine predicted, “Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won’t look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because ‘the right books are found only by accident.’”

Online dating is the new norm for introductions, replacing the role of traditional personals and in many cases, merging with the functions of social media. If we are going to improve the way people meet one another, we’re going to have to do so by questioning the existing paradigms of online dating and figuring out how to do it better.

One thing is certain: the tenacity with which human beings will seek each other out with any tool available is inspiring. Ultimately, we use the technology of online dating because we crave connection and that desire alone timeless and connects us always.

Thanks to The Huffington Post

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A single mum brought her kids on the date

I’ve had about 20 dates with women over the past year and only three or four went well.

I’ve learned that a woman is either ten years older than she tells you or ten stone heavier than her photograph. Your heart sinks when you see them. I just don’t know why they do it – I suppose they see online dating as a conveyor belt and there’ll be another one along in a minute.

I’ve met everyone from a doctor who was far too busy for a relationship to a single mother who brought her seven- and nine-year-old children on our date and expected me to buy them all lunch. She stormed off when I politely refused.

I spent ages choosing a beautiful pub in the Chilterns for another lady who pulled up in a Range Rover, took one look at the venue and said: “This is horrible, follow me.”

Off she roared to somewhere posher where she talked about herself all night and how her last partner had died of cancer.

It had been very inconvenient for her to have to keep visiting him, she said. To add insult to injury, when I texted to wish her well the next day, she replied: “I think you should find someone of your own social class.”

Perhaps the worst was when I started seeing a woman who lived in the South of France. I visited her a few times and then she came over with her 11-year-old daughter. The girl was so jealous of our relationship that not only did she tread mud into the house constantly, she pulled a curtain rail down then had a shower and deliberately left the showerhead running on the floor and went out.

It brought the living room ceiling down. Her mother didn’t even apologize. That was the end of that. I’m a tall, fit man – I run and kayak – and never had much difficulty meeting women, but none seems normal. I just want someone warm and fun. Why is it so hard?

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$238USD Spent Annually by An Online Dater

Some dating sites like OkCupid and PlentyOfFish are generally free to use with the option to purchase a premium membership, which unlocks reserved features like unlimited message storage and the ability to see who “likes” you back.

However, other sites like eHarmony and Match require a paid membership to use. Out of the 41 million Americans who have tried online dating, a large number have stuck to it and tested their faith by spending an average of $238 a year for memberships and other perks. This isn’t necessarily a large sum for people who might spend a lot more just for a night out.

MillionaireMatch.com - the best dating site for sexy, successful singles!
MillionaireMatch.com – the best dating site for sexy, successful singles!

Creepy Girl from POF

Messaged by a girl on POF. Let’s call her “Ashley.” One of those conversations that immediately took off and we were talking for at least 4 hours straight. We decide to go get dinner. She was even better in person. Beautiful, witty, laughed at my stupid jokes and the whole bit. We exchange goodbyes and that was the end of our evening. We’re texting until about midnight when she says “You’re going to hate me. We should just be friends.” So I’m like ok whatever. She calls me the next day and apologizes so I give her a second chance. At the end of this date, we start making out like we’re in middle school and she stops us before we get too far and says she’s not ready for that yet. Ok cool. I can respect that. So I get home and she texts me saying that I was just going to use her had we had sex and calling me a pig. Um….ok. Next day I get a text from Ashley’s phone asking if I knew where she was and I was the last person to talk to her. Her “friend” went to her house, where Ashley had apparently left her phone and her car and the front door was wide open. So I told this mystery person to call the cops. When she refused I said that I would and lo & behold, Ashley shows up. “I had just gone for a walk. Didn’t know you cared about me so much lol.” Yeah ok, I’m done with this situation. The next day I go to work. I usually leave my phone in my truck until lunch, so when I went out for lunch at noon, I had 115 new texts and 48 missed calls. Yup that’s it. I’m done. So I block her number and that’s it. Wrong again. She knew where I worked and the rough time I got off work, which is almost an hour and a half from where she lived. Tried following me home. I took a roundabout way of getting home and ran a few red lights but managed to lose her. It’s been almost a year and I haven’t heard from her since.

Be careful Guys!! 😉

Warm Welcome Message


Any Dating Site is the endless source of fun, stupid, hilarious, creepy,……messages and stories. So here is another short one.

Recently got a message from a guy on a Dating Site ….. ‘Hi. How are you? You look like my grandma’.

Hahaha. Seriously?

Not sure how to take it. As a compliment or as an insult. LOL

MillionaireMatch.com - the best dating site for sexy, successful singles!
MillionaireMatch.com – the best dating site for sexy, successful singles!

Online Dating? Thanks, But No Thanks

About five years ago, I abruptly ended a 10-year relationship with a man I loved and trusted. Being 54 at the time made it that much harder as the prospect of finding someone else I was so compatible with at my age seemed grim at best.

I left him because I discovered that he had filled out dating profiles on every imaginable dating genre available. There were kinky ones, Christian ones, farming ones, pornographic ones, college ones and well, you get the gist. You can imagine my horror to find that this man I trusted was actually dating while living with me! He actually met a few women personally which is a definite deal breaker but even filling out a profile, responding to invitations to chat and continuing conversations about meeting up or, in some cases, just jumping right into online intimacy is the same thing. It’s cheating.

Before leaving, I did go in and change all of his profile settings. He was now interested in men only, very elderly people and weight lifters; anything that was the opposite of what he originally filled in. I can only imagine the responses he got. Oh, I also signed him up via phone and email for several time sharing opportunities and sent requests to real estate agents to contact him because he was interested in selling his house. Also, I may or may not have shared his information with several health insurance agents requesting phone calls about their incredible, low-cost programs.

He knew I had done it but couldn’t confront me for by doing so, he was admitting guilt. Silly man, never leave your pages open! It was obviously killing him not being able to confront me about my discovery but what could he possibly say? “Thanks for changing my dating profiles, now you’ve gone and screwed everything up!” He had to suffer silently. I enjoyed it.

I moved back to the area where I grew up in and now live with my brother. I have not dated since. My married friends saddened I was now alone, were determined to find me the perfect man. “Fill out a profile on a dating site!” they said. “It will be fun!” they said. It was not fun.

After several glasses of wine and if memory serves me correctly, some sort of coven-like ceremonial dancing involving moonlight, twirling around in flowy gown attire (picture Stevie Nicks), a bubbling cauldron (and there are some fuzzy flashbacks of some sort of cult sisterhood blood letting) I agreed to join a dating site. I truly couldn’t remember nor could I discern if the stain on my flowy attire was wine or diluted blood. I never investigated further, some things are better left unknown (your partner dating while in a supposedly committed relationship with you does NOT fall into this category, let there be no confusion).

I joined some site that was offering a “free trial weekend” where you could actually communicate with potential ‘love of your life’ candidates. Imagine! You could actually communicate! I didn’t realize there was any other way of finding your “soul mate” without actually communicating but hey, I was 54, what did I know?

I took extra care to fill out my profile and luckily, I had prior experience under my belt from changing all the settings on my ex’s numerous dating sites. I thought that if I were really going to try this, I should be very honest in my answers so as not to waste my time or my “one and only-s.” Why I assumed others did the same, I don’t know! I am going to pull the age card on this one… again.

I was quite flattered when I got my first “flirt” within minutes of posting my profile. How exciting! How special I must be. My ego deflated rapidly when my notifications started dinging furiously, sounding a bit like a child banging on the xylophone. I realized after opening the flirts and looking over my potential suitors that I must have signed up on some sort of prison dating site and if that weren’t frightening enough, after perusing a few profiles and their answers to the same questions I had spent hours toiling over, realized it must have been from the psychiatric ward housing the most heinous offenders.

The scrawl that was legible seemed to contain small phrases such as, “sumone who is pretie” or “i like lots afekshun.” Gasp! My picture, and a lovely one which took me many hours, an entire bottle of Pinot Noir, the good $12 stuff, to select was now released into the vast unknown. To add to my already shaken sense of security, I found that most of these wonderful candidates lived within miles of me. Lucky me! Could they find me? No address was on the profile, so surely not. Was I in danger? What if I ran into ‘SexmusheenSam’ while shopping at Safeway? What would I do? Did I now have to travel about incognito? I know I have a Suzanne Sommers wig here somewhere, should I dig through all those must have midnight clearance sale items purchased from HSN I couldn’t live without and brush and style it? What if I looked horrible in it? Could I go out looking unfashionable when I spend a good deal of time watching what I eat and exercising so I still manage to look fairly fetching?

One problem only led me to endless others and I was now completely overwhelmed at the thought of having ‘Hum-donger’ tapping me on my shoulder in a parking lot, displaying his three crooked, yellow teeth in a maniacally twisted grin saying, “I no yew, yer my favorite lady on that that day in web!” Once recovered from breath that I’m sure could only be described as vomitus epicycles, what would I say? I can’t be rude, particularly when representing Suzanne Somers and her Fun Flirty Fashion Fiesta Pixie Cut All Natural Looking Wiglet! What if I ran into my ex in his pursuit for “any woman not me?” My brain was actually exploding.

Scenarios like this plagued me and my 44 Magnum at night while buried under the covers. I had finally reached the height of paranoia and launched out of bed, opened my computer and deleted my profile post haste. Enough was enough. I honestly did not feel much better, who knows whose hands (shudder) my profile was in. I had no control over that but at least it wouldn’t still be ricocheting out there in Psychoville.

Things have settled down now, my friends no longer worry that I am alone because they see I rather enjoy it, in fact, I think some are conspiring to abandon their husband’s so they, too, can experience life on the freedom train. I like me. I’m fun. I go out when I want, where I want and answer to no one (well, my sons believe I am completely senile so they check on me hourly which is highly annoying!). If I happen to meet a nice man, so be it. I will tell you that if I ever get to the point where I am at his home, I will check his computer while he is busy attending to whatever psychotic habit I’m sure he has not revealed to me yet. Skeptical? Very! I still believe there are good men out there but for me, a dating site is not where I want to meet one.

All in all, life in my 50s is great. Well, the wig is scratchy and the Jackie O sunglasses and chin tie scarf can be difficult to pull off at times. But I manage quite nicely.

via The Huffington Post

Married with a gun-toting husband

I got to know a nice gal on OKC for a few weeks before we decided to meet up for a hiking date. She only wanted to communicate through email or the dating site -which I thought was odd but just went with it. 30 minutes into our date I found out why…She’s married and her husband is a jealous, gun collecting hunter type who she’s thinking about leaving. For 90mins- I felt like a deer during hunting season on that hike. Every bush movement and twig snap I was sure was him…Fuck her for not coming clean before hand.

via Thought Catalog

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