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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.
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).
Internet dating is just the modern version of the first "matrimonial" agencies of the 1700s, which helped lonely bachelors search for wives through printed ads, said author H. Cocks, a history lecturer at the University of Nottingham, UK.
"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.
However advertising like this has a long and unbroken history, and was used by many people with some success," Cocks said.
From shameful to bohemian and cool It only took a few decades after the invention of the modern newspaper in 1690 for the new medium to become a way for people to meet in Britain.
Like the latter, though, it took some time for the personal ad to be accepted by the Mom-and-Pop public.
In between, the social acceptance of personals has waxed and waned with the times.