A personal or personal ad is an item or notice traditionally in the newspaper, similar to a classified advertisement but personal in nature.
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.
"Someone from an Irish radio station asked me whether the essence of all Internet dating ads was ' Loser seeks Winner,'" he said, "but I think those opinions are really those of younger people, [such as] those under 30 who see no need for Internet dating.
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.
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.
Taboo or not, the practice certainly isn't new.
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 between, the social acceptance of personals has waxed and waned with the times.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.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.