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Time Out's lonely hearts
Photograph: Steve Beech

Find love the ’90s way with Time Out’s free retro dating service

Tell us all about yourself, and we’ll create an old-school ad for you and publish it

Written by
Alice Saville

Unexpected dick pics, impenetrable algorithms, ghosting, RSI from swiping left... Finding love online is hard. Really hard. But it wasn't always this way. Before London was addicted to dating apps, there were more lo-fi ways of meeting that special someone.

For decades, people would take out personal ads in the back pages of magazines, describing themselves and what they were looking for in a few pithy sentences. For years, Time Out was one of the most popular places to do that. In the ’70s the back of the magazine was full of often-eccentric small ads written by lovelorn Londoners. 

Things were pretty wild back then. Even a Zen poetess sometimes gets lonely, reads one. Bowie on stage is ★★★★. Guys/girls who emulate him write to me,’ says another. 

Soon, though, the process became more formalised. In the go-getting ’80s, a set of business-like lonely-hearts-ads codes developed. GSOH: ‘good sense of humour’. WLTM: ‘would like to meet’. NTW: ‘no time wasters’. LTR: ‘long-term relationship’. By the ’90s, advertisers were describing what they wanted by giving their star signs or referencing telly shows: Chandler seeks Monica, says one ‘Friends’-inspired ad. 

Now, Time Out is going back to those glory days. We’re running a one-off series of old-school dating ads for our readers. Do you want to take part? Just fill out this form and we’ll turn your answers into a ’90s style dating ad. Then we’ll post it on Instagram (because the retro vibes only go so far...) collect email responses, and send them on to you (provided they're respectful and worthy of your time). No scrolling, no time-wasters, just a shot at true love the old-fashioned way.

To take part, please fill out THIS FORM by Thu Nov 10.

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