How Dating Has Improved Since the 1950’s

By: Simone Paget |


A few days ago, while cruising the internet (read: procrastinating) I stumbled across this video called  “Choosing for Happiness: a 1950’s Guide to Dating.”

The video is from a series of films based on the book Marriage for Moderns by Henry A. Bowman. “Choosing for Happiness” is meant to be a dating how-to for young women in the 1950’s. Our narrator, Mary, who is new to the social scene on campus, looks to her friend Eve for advice in navigating the dating waters. We see Eve go on several dates with men who are not well suited to her personality. After reflecting on Eve’s bad dates, Mary tells her friend that it is actually she who needs to change, not the men. Yes, you read that right! The advice doled out in the video made me both shake my head  in frustration and  bless my lucky stars that I didn’t have to a single woman dating in the 1950’s.

Here’s 5 in which dating has improved for women since the 1950’s

1. You can be yourself and own it – In the video Mary tells her friend Eve that the problem is her, that she’s simply too demanding – you know, because she wants to have a say in where they go and gets mad when she sees her date flirting with other women. Gee, Eve sounds like a real tyrant! Not. In 2013 you don’t have to cater your personality to the person you’re dating. If you’re outgoing and outspoken, that’s OK. Own it. By being yourself will make it easier to find someone you’re actually compatible with.

2. It’s easier to meet people you actually have things in common with – Online dating is great because you can search for potential dates under common interests. If online dating had existed in the 1950’s, it’s likely that Eve and Mary wouldn’t have had to spend countless afternoons with guys who just want to stay inside and build boats or play with rocks in the dirt.

3. You can enjoy college and university without having to worry about finding a life partner – In the 1950’s the median marrying age for women was 19. This film reminds us that in the ’50s, society still viewed college for women as merely a layover on the way down the aisle. Sure, many people meet their future spouse during college or university. However, for many of us (yours truly included) my weekends in college were spent drinking a few too many vodka coolers and hanging out with whoever I thought was hot at the moment – not fielding marriage proposals. This is a good thing! At that age I was still trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted from a relationship. Instead of focusing on finding a husband, in 2013 we can go to college, date different people and get a kick ass education while we’re at it.

4. You don’t have to get married – Although there’s still a lot of societal pressure to have the big, white, storybook wedding –  if that’s not your thing, that’s totally OK. Women no longer have to get married for survival. Instead, we can date different people and have relationships our own terms. Whether that includes marriage is up to us.

5. If someone says “You’re smart…almost like a man” you have carte blanche to kick him where it hurts – and most likely, your friends will help!