Dating advice from the 1950s


Apologies for the long sabbatical, life got in the way! Terrible excuse, I know, but please accept this post as an apology!

The Atlantic posted a short video inspired from a series of films based on the book Marriage for Moderns by Henry A. Bowman. “Choosing for Happiness” is a dating how-to guide for young women in 1950. Mary, the narrator, is relatively unfamiliar with the social scene on her college campus and looks to her friend Eve for advice on dating and men.

The video’s a bit long, and of course, girls were married at 19 then, but here are the lessons I’ve learned that be applied to 21st Century dating:

  1. Don’t try to change a guy.
  2. Spend long afternoons with a man, not long nights.
  3. You can’t trust a guy that’s all eyes and smiles.
  4. When a man says he doesn’t think of you as a woman, leave….now!
  5. A guy saying that someone should take you across his knee and give you a spanking does not mean the fun sort of spanking.

What do you think? Anything in the video that’s still useful?


There is no Mr (or Mrs) Right

Disclaimer: While this post is directed at women looking for true love, Mr. Right, the one and only, etc, just replace all female references with males ones to make the post equally valid for men.

My flatmate sent me this article, “Why Mr Right is Not Real,” because she thought it would make for a good commentary piece on this blog…and she is right.

Overall, the article argues that we women are constantly fed stories about perfect, easy, everything-falling-into-place love through rom-coms, TV shows, etc. and we hold out for that. We become convinced that anything less than that is settling. The article mentions a new study published in Mass Communication and Society that found that if married women believed in the TV portrayals of relationships, they tended to be less committed to their own pairings and to find alternative partners more attractive. That is one scary thought, that some fictional or grossly exaggerated relationship could have such a profound effect on your real life relationship.

“The problem with looking for the perfect mate is there’s no such thing,” says clinical psychologist Jennifer Taitz, Psy.D. The article does go into how we may think we know what we want, but in reality, we don’t actually know what is good for us; however, since that was already covered in yesterday’s post, I think it’s fair to skip that.

What I really like about this piece is that it urges readers to realize the distinction between letting go of the idea of Mr. Right and “settling”.

All of this Mr. Everything brainwashing has made women feel as if they’re settling even when they aren’t. Unless a guy is some sort of Matthew McConaughey/Channing Tatum mash-up, you believe you could do better. If butterflies don’t break-dance in your gut when he’s around, you think you’re settling. If he’s a morning person and you’re not, you’re convinced he isn’t The One. We want kismet, frictionless matches or none at all.

Most women these days generally fall into two camps: 1) they want to/do marry someone they are not in love with but accept this because there is something else more valuable to them than love in that relationship; or 2) they vehemently abhor the idea of settling for someone and run away from anything resembling “settling.”

“Relationships are messy and scary; they require vulnerability and a loss of control.” This involves accepting the imperfections.

When you aren’t sure about whether you are settling or not, make two lists: on one, write down the top five traits you need your significant other to have and on the other list, jot down all the nice-to-haves. If the guy checks off the need-to-have boxes, then you are NOT settling.

Sure, I want my boyfriend to plan a trip once in awhile. It feels like whenever it’s time to go away, it’s always me bringing up the idea of a holiday, it’s me discussing where to go, it’s me looking for hotel rooms and how we’re going to get there. And yes, this does frustrate me. However, travel planning is not a need-to-have for me, it’s a nice-to-have. I know that he is organized in other areas of his life and he loves traveling just as much as I do (which is a need-to-have), so if he is utterly unhelpful at travel planning, that’s fine. I’m not “settling,” I’m just aware that a lack of travel planning skills is not, for me, something worth dismissing a guy over. I’m accepting that he’s not Mr. Right, but he is Mr. Real (if I can be permitted to use the cheesy language of the article).