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Firstly, calling was practiced with the intention of finding a suitable husband for a young lady; whereas, in dating, this was, and still is, not the primary goal. People date because it is "enjoyable, pleasant, and valuable" Merrill 62 , and they thought that they could gain rewarding experiences from it. In the fifties and surrounding decades, handbooks and other books exploring relationships described dating as a fun activity in which teens are allowed to meet and mingle with many members of the opposite sex. Besides, dating allowed young people to be with each other without their parents interfering.

Secondly, the control of the relationship changed hands as the transition was made. When calling was practiced, the female in the relationship held most of the power because men came to see her in her house with her parents present. But when dating replaced calling, the males held most of the power, for they paid for the date, drove the automobiles, and came by the girl's house only to pick her up.

Dating Tips - 1950s - How to Date - Etiquette & Dining Manners

Dating had actually been around for a while before the 's, but since the presence of the teenager became ever more prevalent and public, dating became more and more popular and routinized. Millions of teenagers in the 's went on one or more dates per week. These teenagers started dating at a young age too.

If a girl of thirteen years had not started dating yet, she was considered a "late bloomer" by societies standards Bailey After all, most children know about dating long before they are actually ready to participate in it Merrill During the 's, it was common knowledge, at least to girls, that there was a process to the whole courtship ritual -- that there were stages to a lasting relationship.

First, when you are young, you associate with boys in the playground, and do not seriously form any romantic relationships with them. Then you progress to flirting and talking to them which leads into dating. The dating process usually is initiated by going out on double-dates. Double-dates were used to initiate the whole dating process because it created a more open environment conducive to easy conversation. So they initial shyness of young couple can be eased away by the presence of other company, especially if the double date was a "set-up" or a blind date for one couple.

After double dating, you would naturally move onto single dating.

Courtship ‘Rules’ Women And Men Were Forced To Follow In The 1950s

And should the relationship move on, as they often do, it would move into the ubiquitous "going steady" stage McGinnis This concept of "going steady" took on a new meaning in the fifties. Before the war, "going steady" was a stage young people took only if they were seriously on the path to marriage; however, after the war, the phrase was used more loosely.

It no longer signaled that the couple was marriageable and ready to commit Bailey If a couple was said to be "going steady," they would date one another exclusively and feel as if the other "belongs" to him or her McGinnis 74 but this occurred without any serious thoughts of marriage. In this stage, there were certain customs that were played out by the two people involved.

The boy was required to give the girl a token which was to claim her as his, like his class ring, letterman sweater, or ID bracelet. If a ring was given, it had to be worn on the third finger of the left hand. Of course, these customs varied by region. Some places preferred rings over clothes, and others did not. Boys are also expected to call their steady girlfriend a certain number of times a week and take her out on a certain number of dates. Going steady also meant that the couple would reach a higher lever of sexual intimacy Bailey Many saw this stage as a kind of "play-marriage" for the young couple Bailey Their exclusiveness made them seem almost as if they were married to each other.

Not only was this stage a source of security for the couple, for they needed to have dates to all the social functions in their lives, they also were signs of popularity around their schools. In a survey, many of the students polled agreed that the most popular students had gone steady.

After "going steady," a young couple could get engaged and, then after that, married Knowing the process of courtship, was and pretty much still in common knowledge for teens, but all that does not matter if you cannot get a date Getting a date has always been complicated. In the 's, it was unheard of for a young lady to ask for a date or to initiate the dating process. The men were supposed to do the asking and calling. One young man as a guest writer to the February issue of Seventeen magazine wrote:.

Growing up has taught me one thing: I've also found that once he meets a girl -- and becomes interested in her -- a boy must indulge in a sly, artful practice called pursuit.

But those first few moments of "pursuit" are always hard to start, so an emphasis on "lines" was created during this time period. It all depended on how the girl responds and reacts to the line given to her. These pieces of heavily saturated compliments were cast at women, and the women were supposed to nit-pick them and -- not believe what was said but -- be flattered by them Merrill Another way of getting a date is to be set up on a "blind" one where each end of the relationship has never met the other before.

This method is especially useful and practical if a guy is shy and bashful about asking a girl out on a date. It might help him feel more adequate in the dating scene by blind dating especially if it is his first dating experience.


  1. Rules Of Dating, The 's Way | Do You Remember?.
  2. 'A man should always ask a woman for the date.'.
  3. Rules Of Dating, The 1950’s Way?
  4. The do’s and do not’s of dating directed towards women from an article in a 1950’s magazine.;
  5. 'A man should always use heaps of flattery to woo a woman.';
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The same could be said about girls. Blind dates could also have the same effect on them as it had on boys Sadler Many handbooks for young ladies were published in the postwar time period that addressed the issue of how to attract boys and how to obtain a date. One handbook entitled Always Say Maybe suggests ways in which a girl can lure a boy's fancy toward her.


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  • The Dating Culture of the 1950s;
  • Some of the chapters focus on how to approach a man, how to earn a date, how to start interesting conversation, and how to be interested in what they are interested in, like sports in particular. The book is written in a somewhat comical manner; however, it does instruct its readers on how to act around boys. One chapter reads, "Be gay, be charming, be thinking. One reason that dating was an important factor in the 's is that it is present almost everywhere, even in the classroom. Many schools were equipped with educational films which were intended to help teenagers live good clean lives.

    The films about dating in the fifties were real gems of cinema. These films were simply representations of adult views and adult preferences but created with teenage actors. They served as reminders to teenagers that there were customs and certain boundaries in dating, and if they violated them, there could be serious consequences. Many films choose to depict the results of sexual intercourse by showing severe cases of syphilis and unwanted pregnancies. More innocently though, these types of films showed how one gets a date and what to do on a date, according to the mores of adults.

    Most dates ended with a friendly handshake which shows that these movies were created by adults for their children to watch and hopefully follow Smith In the fifties, there were many options for a young couple looking for a good time. The most popular places to go were those that were cheap yet fun, much like dates of today. The September issue of Seventeen pointed out that the most popular places were ice cream parlors, pizza parlors, drive-ins, bowling alleys, coffee houses and record shops The most popular and economical activity available for teenagers was watching movies.

    There they could be immersed in the dark with their date, enjoy a snack, and be entertained for a while. Perhaps, if the movie was played in a drive-in, you would not even have to watch the movie to be entertained!

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    Many movies were released during this time period that would appeal to teenagers too, like Pillow Talk starring the talented Doris Day and handsome Rock Hudson. Other places teenagers went for fun were dances, school sporting events, sock hops, malt shops, and amusement parks. Dances, in particular, made up a large part of dating. There were not only school supported dances, such as the sock hop appropriately named because patrons were to take off their shoes so as not to scuff the basketball floor , but there were proms and sorority dances to attend as well.

    In more modern times, girls who attend these kinds of functions usually stay with the date that brought them or whoever they invited to come. But it was perfectly normal, even preferred by older generations at least if a young lady was "passed around" the dance floor.

    Teenage Dating in the s

    If you were not cut in on, you were a social disgrace. This practice was actually apparent in the times before the 's, but by the early first few years of the decade, it had pretty much disappeared. While dating can still be daunting at least women no longer have to worry if they drop a knife on the floor during a meal. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Friday, Jan 18th 5-Day Forecast. The gentleman does the ordering, fruit is 'embarrassing' and never EVER leave a lipstick mark on a glass: Share this article Share.

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