- In the 19th and 20th century, there were many books and articles written to offer women advice on how to find a husband.
- The advice was sometimes questionable, telling women what to say, what to wear, and what to do.
- The publications told women to not make jokes, to wear pink underwear, and even to stand in a corner and cry to attract men.
Here are some of the more questionable pieces of advice given to people looking for love.
Harvey Newcomb wrote ‘How to Be a Lady, Containing Useful Hints of the Formation of Character’ in 1850 and told women to never joke around with men
“Do not allow yourself in the habit of joking with your companions. This tends to cultivate severe sarcasm, which is a bad habit of the tongue,” Newcomb wrote.
He goes on to advise women to dress conservatively and never wear dresses that are too tight.
“If you know anything of the black snake, you will recollect that it assaults not with deadly venom, but winds itself around its victim, stops the circulation of the blood … I need not tell you that the effects of tight-dressing are similar,” Newcomb wrote in the book.
A different book titled ‘Woman, Her Sex and Love Life’ by William Josephus in 1927 told women that men are only attracted to women who wear pink underwear with lace and ruffles
“That the underwear should be spotlessly clean goes without saying, but every woman should wear the best quality underwear that she can afford,” Josephus wrote in the 1927 book, “and the colour should be preferably pink. And lace and ruffles, I am sorry to say, add to the attractiveness of underwear, and are liked by the average man.”
A newspaper article from 1938 taught women how to behave while on a date with a man, including how to sit, what to wear, and what to talk about
The article advised women to not touch their dates in public – in any manner.
“Don’t be familiar with your escort by caressing him in public. Any open show of affection is in bad taste, usually embarrasses or humiliates him,” the article in 1938 reads.“Careless women never appeal to gentlemen. Don’t talk while dancing, for when a man dances, he wants to dance.”
The newspaper also warns women to not get too emotional while on a date.
“Don’t be sentimental or try to get him to say something he doesn’t want to by working on his emotions,” the article reads. “Men don’t like tears, especially in public places.”
And, lastly, the article advises that women should not drink alcohol while in the company of a man.
“Don’t drink too much, as a man expects you to keep your dignity all evening,” the article reads. “Drinking may make some girls seem clever, but most get silly. The last straw is to pass out from too much liquor. Chances are your date will never call you again.”
An instructional dating video from 1949 claims that men are only looking for women who are fun
“It’s too bad Janice always acts superior and bored. She makes a fellow feel awkward and inferior,” the film says about the boy’s first option for a date. Eventually, he chooses a girl named Ann who, “knows how to have a good time and how to make the fellow with her relax. Yes, that’s what a boy likes. He wants to know that he is appreciated.”
In 1952, The Girlfriend and The Boyfriend magazine warned men against a woman who teases or shows ‘off her charm to others’
“Almost all girls who are pretty flirt a little. It’s the natural thing to do. But a girl who is a teaser is not content with simple, wholesome flirting; she goes out of her way to bait boys with obvious displays of physical charm,” the article from 1952 reads. “A teaser never wins in the long run, for no boy wants to marry a girl who enjoys showing off her charms to others.”
The article is accompanied by images of women putting on lipstick and fixing their stockings.
McCall’s magazine published an article in 1958 called ‘129 Ways to Get a Husband,’ and each piece of advice is truly entertaining
The magazine offers women advice on “how to let him know you’re there.” One way to do so is to “stand in a corner and cry softly. Chances are good that he’ll come over to find out what’s wrong.” Another is “get a sunburn.”
The article also advises women to “point out to him that the death rate of single men is twice that of married men.” If that isn’t enough, “start a whispering campaign on how sought-after you are.”
The key to a successful relationship, according to Robert H. Loeb’s 1959 book ‘She-Manners: The Teen Girls’ Book of Etiquette,’ is to compliment a man repeatedly
“To make him feel important, you have to forget your own desires for importance. Compliment him on his physical prowess, his mental acumen, his good looks, his virility … lay it on thick but subtly. Stroke his ego. Let him think he’s king much of the time. He will love you for it, and, you know, it will make you feel extremely feminine,” Loeb’s book reads.
The same book says men have the right to make moves on women and can even judge the woman if she accepts.
“The man has one set of standards for himself and another for you,” Loeb writes in his book. “He may consider himself a Don Juan for having succeeded in getting you to pet, but he will also decide that you’re too easy to get.”
Margaret Bevans’ ‘McCall’s Book of Everyday Etiquette’ in 1960 taught women that they should always accept a man’s help even if they don’t need it
“It is embarrassing to your escort if you refuse his services or beat him to the punch. If he offers help on the stairs or crossing the street, accept it even if you don’t need it. If he is a little slow in ordering your meal in a restaurant, don’t turn to the waiter yourself,” Bevans wrote.
The ’90s didn’t offer much better advice for women when the famous book ‘The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right’ was released, telling women to take a back seat to men
When released in 1995, feminists panned the book for telling women to adapt old-school dating habits. Along with tidbits like “don’t talk to a man first” and saying men don’t like funny women, “The Rules” also tells women to “let him take the lead.”
In the bedroom, authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider tell women to ignore their own desires.
“Don’t be a drill sergeant, demanding that he do this or that,” the book reads. “Remember, those are your needs you’re concerned about filling, and The Rules are a selfless way of living and handling a relationship.”
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
- Read more:
- 13 long-term couples reveal their secrets for how to make love last
- A professional matchmaker shares 4 things everyone should know about love
- 21 real couples reveal how they keep the spark alive in their relationship
- 7 subtle signs your relationship is basically over
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.