Vintage NYMag Personal Ads Are a Study in Misplaced Male Confidence

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Today, men’s favorite ages on OkCupid are 20, 21, 22, and 23, but ever since fire was invented to see each other with, stunningly average men have believed they deserve that perfect 10. Case in point? The vintage Strictly Personals section of New York Magazine, which The Cut perused for some beautiful standouts.


Of the 33 ads highlighted, three included men who described themselves as a “Richard Gere Lookalike” or “Richard Gere Type” (two in 1984, and one in 2000; maybe one of the Richard Geres had success with this generous comparison, got married, divorced after 15 years, and tried it again!). The ads by men range from extremely self-confident/likely exaggerated to very unappealing and yet still, somehow, expectant.

One man described himself as “One of the last truly renaissance men”; another as a “Jewish accountant who’s definitely not a mess.” Promising! Yet another, writing in the year 2000, took a glass-half-full approach and described himself as “White Male Angel—45, not ugly, not short. Why compromise? Photo!”

Another simply cuts to the chase: “Currently I am a powerful investment banker. I am looking for a beautiful successful woman for a fall romance.”

Below are a few of my personal favorites, in full:

Fair Maiden—forever it is that I shall love you. And fear not, for your heart too shall find its true course. Your magic is powerfully special. Godspeed, thy nonage. (1983)

The Purpose of Life—revealed here for the first time: fun, intimacy, bearing witness to each other’s days and nights, creativity, sensuality, lazy sundays, art, music, and (with the right person) raising children. Very bright, attractive 31-year-old man seeks pretty gal in her 20's with similar views, prominent ideals and prominent derriere; and who is not the type to answer an ad like this!” (1985)

Captain Seeks Mate—If you have smooth, beautiful skin that will darken under a tropical sun, if you are a very special woman desiring to share the beauty, adventure, and fun of occasional short and long, far and near cruises on Caribbean and Florida Keys waters in my 50' sailboat, please write. I’m not short, not fat, not over 45, not insincere, not unattractive (kind of like Dennis Weaver seen in a cheap mirror). Not afraid to be gentle and compassionate. I’m financially secure and enjoy sharing the best things in life. (1984)

Does She Exist—If so, she is a slim trim woman, 30 plus, articulate, strong but not pushy, plays tough tennis and runs for pleasure. She is sensual. She neither smokes nor wears pink and lime green fashions. This 44, 6'4, 6-figure male executive would like to meet her. (1983)

And extra snaps to one incredible woman, whom I long to meet and also be:

WASP Princess, Late 30's—seeks slim man, over 5'10, educated, dry, quick wit, sincere, a gentleman with traditional values. Bio, photo, phone. (1985)


Read ‘em all here.

Image via screenshot/Pretty Woman.



I love how so many of these men describe themselves in the negative: “not short, not fat”, etc. It’s as though they are saying “Hey, I meet the bare minimum, now stop being so damned picky and let’s bone”.