Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Dating Advice from 1938

Never mind the prissy intro to this set of excellent 1938 American dating advice. It all stands. I would have added "Express happiness about your life, and don't complain about anything." Listen up, whippersnappers! If there's anything I've learned in this life, it's that men prefer happy women. For some reason, young women often prefer brooding poet types with horrible shadows under their eyes. That way madness lies, though. My dear husband sleeps for at least 9 hours at a stretch. 

The curious thing is that "dating" was on its way out in the 1990s--when young people "hung out" until they magically paired off--but came roaring back with the internet. At that point, the number one rule of dating was to meet in a public place. I think that by 2005 dating was seen as such an emotionally dangerous enterprise that it was best to start from absolute scratch--with strangers picked from a screen--than to risk the emotional and social pitfalls of going to dinner with someone you actually knew.  

One of the very nice things about being married, as all married people say when contemplating the subject, is that you don't have to go on dates anymore. The search is over: you can settle in and grow your relationship tree. After a year or so, you can be very firm about what you don't want for Christmas, and after about ten years you can agree to dispense with Valentine's Day trinkets (though I strongly recommend continuing with the cards). The interesting thing is, if you get sufficiently old and unglamorous and your husband doesn't mind, you can still go out for coffee with young men and listen to their problems. There is a type of young man who gravitates towards mother figures--although I cannot imagine that real mothers have time to have coffees with young men. 

The essential thing here, of course, is to continue to  prefer your husband to any other man in the universe, which reminds me of the time B.A. arrived at an afternoon swing-dancing workshop to say hello but did not stay to dance. I can still feel the disappointment. What a heart-breaker. (The chap I stopped dancing with the second B.A. arrived looked confused and cross.) There is really no point to swing dancing as a married lady if your husband won't dance with you. 

Meanwhile, I am reminded of foreign young male religious at theology school being spiritually adopted by married female students of late middle age, and the young male religious saying fond things like, "She's my second mother" or "She's my Canadian mother" which at the time I thought was a bit weird but sixteen years laters sounds perfectly reasonable. 

Right, so this has stopped being about actual dating and gone back to being about me, so I will stop. But I will say that I first heard about B.A. when I was chatting to an influential British Catholic over Skype while simultaneously looking his male Facebook friends and saying "What about him? Ooh, he went to Oxford." The influential British Catholic said, "Would you like to live in a Historical House?" and two years later I was married to B.A. and living in the Historical House. The moral of that story, I think, is to dispense with internet dating and to ask around.

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