Personal ads first appeared in newspapers, which charge per character or line of text. In order to save money, people have used common abbreviations, which have carried over to the Internet.
According to a study on personal ads appearing in Academic Psychiatry, most print media outlets carry legends explaining what each abbreviation means.
DBM seeks SWM...
The first letter in a personal ad acronym refers to the marital status (D=divorced) or orientation (T=transgender). The second letter refers to ethnicity (W=white) and the last letter refers to sex (M=male). Some acronyms contain many letters; for example, "POSSLQs" means "persons of opposite sex sharing living quarters."
Personal ads sometimes specify the level of seriousness one is looking for in a relationship, whether it's a long-term relationship (LTR) or no-strings attached (NSA).
According to a report by TechCrunch.com, 15 percent of U.S. Internet users visit online dating sites a month, many of which are adult personals. These ads use abbreviations and acronyms to describe particular kinks someone is looking for, including S&M (sadomasochism).