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12 of the Most Ridiculous Dating Tips from the 1930s

My, how times have changed! Some 80 years ago, anything from having your mom send you flowers to playing bridge might have helped you land Mr. Right.


By Elisa Roland, Reader's Digest

Don't get drunk


All of these other dating tips from 80 years ago might seem outdated and ridiculous today, but we think this one actually still holds up! A 1938 article in Click Parade warned women that getting boozed up on a date was a big no-no. Not only will they appear 'silly' rather than 'clever,' but they'll also embarrass their date. 'The last straw is to pass out from too much liquor. Chances are, your date will never call you again!' writes Click Parade. That's sound advice for any era—and for men as well as women, of course. No one wants to risk puking on their date's shoes.


Have your mom send you flowers


In the Broadway show Wicked, Glinda belts out the song Popular, promising Elphaba that she will elevate her to that highest of social strata. Perhaps Glinda read a 1938 article in Mademoiselle in which a Smith College senior advised freshmen about the importance of cultivating an 'image of popularity' to get dates. She advised, 'During your first term, get home talent to ply you with letters, telegrams, and invitations. College men will think, 'she must be attractive if she can rate all that attention.'' She further suggests to have your mom send you flowers to impress men and to shut the lights in your dorm room at night, so no one will think you're home if you don't have a date.


Stay mum on the dance floor


Another word of advice from Click Parade was to avoid boring your date with talk about clothes, and to 'flatter your date by talking about the things he wants to talk about.' It also recommends feigning interest in whatever he says. In her 1939 book How To Win and Hold a Husband, Dorothy Dix puts it more bluntly: 'Don't talk too much and, above all, don't talk about yourself, ever. Men have a horror of girls who babble on forever and ever like a brook. Men like to talk about themselves and what they want is an intelligent listener.' Think you can at least chat while doing the cha-cha? Think again. According to Click Parade you should keep those lips sealed on the dance floor too because 'when a man dances he wants to dance.' These dating tips seem downright cringe-worthy today. And relationship rules weren't really any more egalitarian in the 1950s, as these 17 pieces of '50s dating advice prove.


There's no crying in baseball—or dating


Click Parade recommends you don't turn on the tears in a potential beau's company, because men should not have their emotions worked on (how manipulative!), and 'men don't like tears, especially in public places.' In her book, Dorothy Dix writes, 'Men do not like sentimental women.' Stay strong, ladies!


Chewing gum is a turn-off


Fresh breath, anyone? Stick to mints and not gum if you want to keep your man happy. According to the 1938 Click Parade article, chewing gum was 'not advised,' however if you must, it was advisable to do so with your mouth shut. Chomping away like a cow on a piece of Bubble Yum might be frowned upon today as well. That's just bad manners! 


Never touch up your makeup in his rear view mirror

Gussy up, of course, but don't make him privy to your routine. Click Parade suggests 'to dress in your boudoir to keep your allure,' and that includes makeup too. And don't even think about touching up your lipstick in front of him or blotting your lips with his hankie. Oh, and never use the car's rearview mirror to check your makeup, because 'men need it to drive and it annoys them very much when they have to run around to see what's behind them.' Smudged mascara will have to wait!


Waiting isn't a virtue when it comes to dating


Click Parade warns: 'Don't keep him waiting. Greet him with a smile!' But according to the article, you don't want to be so hasty that you forget to wear a brassiere—if you need one, that is. We must keep our priorities straight, mustn't we, ladies?


Don't overdress to impress


As important as it is to look good, it's just as strategic to avoid overdoing it. Dix's book, How To Win and Hold a Husband, warns '...she scares him off when she decks herself out in what looks like a million dollars' worth of finery.' In other words, he'll think he can't afford to date you if you don a designer gown like some modern day Housewife of New Jersey.


Put down that phone


In Dorothy Dix's book she is adamant that gals trying to snag a guy stay away from the telephone. 'Don't call a boy up over the telephone during business hours. He will hate you for it, because you are jeopardizing his job. ... There is no surer way for a girl to make herself unpopular with men than to be a telephone hound.' It's unlikely Ms. Dix would be a fan of modern texting either—or posting on social media.


Take a trip abroad


And what of the poor girl who can't get a date? Traveling abroad might be just the ticket—an airplane ticket that is. As Dix explains in her book: 'Before succumbing to the inevitable she might give herself one more chance by making a change in her environment. Many a girl who is a social failure at home is a success abroad. Many a girl whom the boys on Main Street couldn't see becomes one whom strange men behold with admiration.' Strange men? I'm not sure a girl's mother would approve.


Over 30? Take matters into your own hands


Suddenly a feminist, Dix advises women over 30 who want to get hitched to do the courting themselves. They should 'pick out the particular men they desire to have for husbands and go in for a whirlwind campaign. Virtually any woman can marry any man if she will just go after him hard enough, provided she never lets him suspect that she is being the aggressor.' 


Play a good game of bridge


According to Dix's dating tips, you shouldn't count on 'getting by with a pretty face.' You better have a bag of tricks to entertain your guy and keep him interested. 'She has to know how to be entertaining and amusing; how to dance and play a good game of bridge; how to fit in any company. Only senile grandpas fall for the beautiful but dumb, and Venus herself would be a wallflower if she had to be towed around a ballroom floor or trumped her partner's ace,' writes Dix.

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Love Magazine: 12 of the Most Ridiculous Dating Tips from the 1930s
12 of the Most Ridiculous Dating Tips from the 1930s
My, how times have changed! Some 80 years ago, anything from having your mom send you flowers to playing bridge might have helped you land Mr. Right.
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