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The Hilarious Personal Ad Exercise


Today, we’re gonna make things lighter and funnier and I’m gonna show you a cringy yet playful and humorous self-awareness exercise. This exercise challenges you to admit to and be honest about your negative relationship patterns as well as the dysfunction in your relationships; while at the same time, bringing some humor to the whole situation. I will tell you in advance that doing this exercise as a kind of game in groups, makes this exercise SO much better.      

Back in the day, people used to post want ads for relationships in the newspaper and later on posting sites like craigslist. They were called a personal ad or a contact ad. And they are actually the very thing that evolved into the profiles on dating sites and dating aps you know today. I’ll give you some actual, real life examples of what I mean. Here is one from the 1920s that reads: I am 27 employed by the government. Have small but reasonable salary. Will make some poor working girl from 18 to 25 a good husband and a happy home. Must be protestant. No dancers, flirts or streetwalkers need answer. My object is matrimony. Write P71 Allegny Press Office. 

And here is one from the 1980s. Forever Single! Phooey! Says this very attractive, slim, successful male professional, 50, who is more sensitive than mother Theresa, lore loveable that E.T, wiser than Yoda and more modest than a presidential candidate. Seeking a pretty, slim, warm female who yearns for a serious relationship that is more fun than human beings should be allowed to have. 

And here is one from the year 2016. Is anyone out there? This 32 year old vivacious thrill seeker is seeking her hero who knows how to treat a lady. Why is she still single you ask? Because she isn’t one to settle! I can cook like the best of them. And I love a good sports game. Not looking for anyone with a checkered past or a wandering eye. If you’re ready to be someone’s prince charming, send me a note and a photo to (her e-mail). 

The thing about these personal ads is that they don’t really represent the truth about what being in a relationship with the person is like. They are super short, super sweet and salesy in that they do not represent the full reality. So, in this exercise, you do something a little different. Here is what you do. 

You write a lengthy personal ad that represents the harsh reality of you in relationships, your dysfunction and negative patterns, but in a humorous way. And if you’re playing with a group of people, which hopefully you are, you read your personal ads out loud to each other. You can include positive traits as well if you’d like. The objective is to sell the harsh reality of yourself in relationships. 

So that you can understand this, I’ll give you two examples. The first, was submitted by a man named Daniel.

Who out there is looking to be swept off their feet by a duper? I’m a fifty something who has such big identity issues that you can be sure I’m just the man for you. My mommy taught me exactly how to please. And you have her to thank for the fact that I love me a dominating, control freak of a woman. We’ll watch all your favorite shows, listen to all your kinds of music, live in your house, play everything by your rules. I will fit into your life like a custom-made glove. But all that goodness is just too boring. So, surprise surprise, I’m a man who will always spice it up with a good old fashioned identity crisis. I’ll wake you up one morning with breakfast in bed and tell you that I don’t know who I am or what I want anymore. You’ll be tickled pink by watching everything about me change. I loved your music, not anymore! I was fine with watching your shows, not anymore! I agreed to your rules, nope… I take that back. We were perfect for each other… Nope, I think we’re actually pretty incompatible, I was just doing what it took to make you like me. 

And just like that, you will feel the excitement return to your life because I have mastered the art of plunging a woman into the passionate throws of complete uncertainty. If you’re a lady who is scared of ending up with a cocky narcissist, look no further, because I am an insecure codependent who is looking for a lady who wants to dance. Dance back and forth that is between push and pull because unlike all those other men who know exactly who they are and what they want (how un-original) my terror of enmeshment and yet terror of aloneness will ensure that this relationship is never gonna get boring. It’s never gonna get stable either. I’m seeking that special woman who knows deep down that she will accept the exact opposite of the original premise upon which our relationship was formed. A woman who is ready to set up her life so it depends on me, only to realize she’s built her life on quicksand. Love is about being willing to give up our truth and hurt for the other person’s needs. And I’ve spent my lifetime searching for a woman who is ready to do that for me, just like I did it for my mommy. 

Also, are you sick of how sex obsessed men tend to be? My mommy raised me up different. She taught me to never initiate sex at all. This way, everything gets to be on your terms. And this means, I’m every woman’s dream because if you don’t initiate, we won’t ever have sex, I can even go years without it just the same. We can even sleep in separate bedrooms if that’s what you prefer. I snore anyway. 

If you’re that lucky lady who is ready to be the next person I start off pleasing and then rebel against, send me a text message at (phone number). I’ll respond just as soon as I don’t feel like my autonomy is threatened by having to respond to you in order to please you.  

And here is a second example:  

         Are you looking for a high-maintenance woman with a little dose of crazy? Look no further because I’m your gal. At first glance, you’ll be enchanted by my warm and elegant seeming charm. I will have countless deep conversations with you to the point where your concept of time will be lost. In a few weeks, even days, you’ll feel like no one else in the world knows you as well as I do. This is because I am studying you like you’re my next science experiment, partially because I do really want to know you. Also because now that I have effectively psychologically analyzed you, I can keep myself safe by becoming the perfect woman for you.

After all, I’m doing exactly what my parents taught me to do - become whatever I need to be to get their love, attention, and approval. It’s not like I ever learned that I could get love by being authentic and real.

If you need a housewife, I’m your gal. If you need arm candy, I’m your gal. If you need a CEO businesswoman, I’m also your gal. If you need a book worm, I’m your gal. If you want an athletic woman, I can also be that for you, no problem at all. I’m down to be whoever you want, as long as you meet my needs.

Warning though, if you don’t meet my needs, I’ll flip on you! All my real truths and personalities will come out and I will expect you to love me anyway. If you don’t, you’re the bad guy. At that point though, my intense grip and depth of intimacy in our relationship has you hooked and you just can’t get yourself to leave!

So buckle your seatbelt in for a wild ride... you are now officially stuck in this cat and mouse game with me. I will push and pull and push and pull, all to get you to fixate your attention on me. Ultimately, the men who are interested me care more about excitement than they do stability and I am one to please.

Oh, another thing! Me believing I need to change myself for love has led me to have crippling self-worth issues and an anxious attachment style so I will need reassurance 24/7. If you planned a thoughtful date for us, by the end of it, I’ll still ask you if you love me. And again when we wake up in the morning. And again the next day. And again and again and again. It is something I conveniently like to forget. What can I say?

Remember when I said I’m just a little dose of crazy? Well, I lied! I just say a little bit so you’d still be willing to get into a relationship with me. I’m the whole package of crazy! It’s at this point in the relationship where I feel secure enough to really show you what I’m really made of.. If you act in a way that upsets me enough, I will go full Kung Fu Panda on you your ass. We’ll be lucky if there are no broken plates at the end of our fight. But I know you have a fetish for fire and I know how to turn a camp fire into a forest fire.

This will perfectly feed into your dysfunction because if you’re interested in me, you must be the kind of guy that likes to let the woman in your life take up so much of your life that you can avoid yourself and your own personal truths. You will keep yourself nicely occupied and entertained by my chaos, that you forget who you are and let me lead the relationship. In turn, I will gladly take all the responsibility just like my parents taught me to, only for me to end up bitter and resentful.

So if you’re the type of guy who dreams of dating multiple women, I’m perfect for you. You can have a relationship with all of my personalities. The only cost is your sanity. 

When you are writing this personal ad, consider things like: What is a funny way of selling people on something that isn’t appealing? Are there any marketing gimmicks that you have seen that you could include? Would you be placing the article yourself or would someone else be posting it for you and about you? And how would that impact how it is written? What are the things about you that you receive the most negative feedback about? What have multiple people objected to about you? What are your worst habits? What are the most damaging patterns you display in your relationships? What are the awesome things about you and how you are in a relationship that keep a person stuck on you, no matter how bad the bad stuff is? Would your personal ad be about a romantic relationship or a different kind of relationship, like a friendship or a work relationship? What are the unwanted or dysfunctional traits in the people you keep being attracted to or choosing? And what makes you keep choosing them over other people? What would make someone suffer about your behavior or the details of your life, and how might you highlight those things in a sales pitchy way?       

This exercise will sting. But practicing adaptive humor by developing the ability to laugh at yourself and accepting that every person and every relationship comes with contrast, is a very useful tool on the road of self-awareness and self-development, where we all have the habit of taking ourselves and our problems a little too seriously all the time. 







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