Sophie Henry

College days winding to a close? Worried because you haven’t met your soulmate? 

Never fear, lovelorn Yalie, the Yale Alumni Magazine is here! 

Though a print publication seems an unlikely place to find the partner of your dreams, the magazine boasts a unique feature designed to boost your love life: personal ads. This novel form of matchmaking occurs in the classified section of each magazine issue. And the process is simple. 

Write a short bio of around 20 words. Since there are no pictures, careful description is crucial. Bought a gym membership in January but haven’t been since? You sound “goal-oriented, athletic and easy going.” Spend a lot of time watching Netflix in your parents’ basement? No problem! You’re “financially-conscious, family-minded and an avid connoisseur of visual art.”

Include an email address so that potential suitors can contact you. Now place your ad, sit back and wait for the lovers to make themselves known! 

Cons? At a steep $3.75 per word, running a 20-word ad for six issues costs nearly three times as much as a one-year subscription to Tinder Platinum. 

Pros? You can’t be left on read over email.  

It’s shockingly foolproof, at least in theory. 

But romantically-inclined Yalies may be wondering, does this seemingly-arcane process actually work? Of course, it does! In January 2021, The New York Times ran an article detailing the story of professor Liz Schneider and Ben Liptzin ’66, a couple who met through the Yale Alumni Magazine. Liptzin picked up a copy of the magazine, discovered Schneider’s ad and reached out to her. Their connection was immediate, and the couple later married. 

Still, despite the occasional success, hundreds of personal ads go unanswered. 

Nevertheless, Ann Bertega, whose name has been changed for the sake of this article, was willing to take this risk. After reading the Times article, she wrote her own ad for the Yale Alumni Magazine. 

Energetic, petite, outrigger canoeist, kayaker, rail-trail cyclist, XC skier, involved with community betterment, politically left (Smith ’78, Yale widow, no offspring, just dog) seeks fit, clever, outgoing man (54-65 y/o) to share interests and life. Charlottesville. Long distance OK.

Like Bertega herself, the ad is bold, direct and meticulous. She even had friends proofread the blurb to ensure that the words were right. “Every word counts!” she said. 

Bertega knows better than anyone that love can be found in unexpected places. She met her late husband through a matchmaking service in the days before the internet. Participants filled out a 10-question profile, and then paid a $3 fee to see other potential partners’ profiles. 

“What do you read for pleasure?” one such question asked. Rob, her late husband who majored in English at Yale, answered with several of his favorite poets. Bertega, who is not much of a reader, listed Consumer Reports and Calvin and Hobbes comics. Rob found this hysterical. But Bertega was serious. “I do read Consumer Reports. I subscribe to it, paper and digital.” 

Delighted by her wit, Rob sent Bertega a beautifully written letter. Notably, the letter was completely typo-free, which Bertega appreciated. “I’m a stickler for someone who cares what they produce, because it reflects on them.” 

Bertega was also drawn to Rob by their shared love for the outdoors — Rob worked for the National Park Service, while Bertega spent weekends kayaking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing as her later personal ad advertised. 

The two arranged to talk on the phone. On Inauguration Weekend in 2001, Rob made the fateful phone call. They talked for an hour. Bertega recalls that Rob was one of few people she spoke with who took the time to really listen to her and ask thoughtful questions. 

They hung up after an incredible conversation. “That was it,” Bertega said. “I knew he was the one.”

Five years later, after Rob’s retirement from the National Park Service, they were married. Bertega was 51 and it was her first marriage. “To say that I got married for the first time when I was 51, it does give people hope. It’s never too late,” she said.  

Before Rob’s passing, he took the time to rewrite Bertega’s profile for The Right Stuff, the matchmaking service where they met. 

“He told me to take out Calvin and Hobbes and be more mature.” She laughed. “He liked it that I put in Consumer Reports.” 

Bertega has spent the past six years since Rob’s passing using dating apps on and off, including Match, Eharmony, Fitness Singles, OKCupid and Plenty of Fish. But it’s difficult for her to meet someone who puts in the same level of effort as she does. 

She recalls a phone conversation with someone she met on a dating app. “He was opening up a fruit cup. And he was slurping that while we talked. So, I politely got off the phone,” Bertega chuckled, recalling the scene. “I have standards.” 

Those standards have led her to subscribe to dating services specifically serving Ivy League graduates. But evidently, the shortage of eligible Yale men transcends undergraduate years. 

So, when Bertega placed her ad in the Yale Alumni Magazine, she wasn’t expecting much. “I did it to have fun,” she said. “It was entertaining for my girlfriends, to tell them the responses.” 

The responses — “four stories of really dysfunctional guys” — proved disappointing. But still, Bertega enjoyed seeing her ad in print. It ran in the magazine for four issues.

Perhaps that is the allure of this form of matchmaking: leaving a tiny piece of yourself somewhere in space, where it could be discovered by someone special. Going to the same school and reading the same publications all but guarantees you’ll be soulmates — just ask all the Yalies I ghosted on Tinder. 

Bertega doesn’t think about the ad anymore. She’s busy living life. After retiring from a career working in education for people with visual impairments, she now devotes time to biking on old rail trails and participating in water sports. At the time of the interview, Bertega was on a week-long trip, kayaking and hiking along the South Carolina coast.

But who knows? Maybe Bertega’s ad hasn’t found the right person yet. Just because time has passed doesn’t mean the window of opportunity has passed. After all, Liptzin took nearly six months to respond to Schneider’s ad.

Bertega keeps her expectations low, but she says the personal ad was worth a try. “You never know what will happen.” 

It might be a risk, but perhaps matchmaking at a slower pace could lead to romance. So, if you’re looking to place a personal ad in the Yale Alumni Magazine, why not shoot your shot? You might just find your Youlmate.