1950s dating advice for women
In 1937, sociologist Willard Waller published a study in the .His study of Penn State undergraduates detailed a "dating and rating" system based on very clear standards of popularity.With the rise of the entertainment culture, with its movie houses and dance halls and their universal appeal across class lines, dating quickly moved up the socio-economic ladder to include middle- and upper-class men and women, as well as the new urbanites.When one tries to understand how dating has changed over time, and most importantly, how we arrived at the system of courtship and dating we have today, one must realize the monumental cultural shift that occurred during the 1940s, primarily due to World War II.Men's popularity needed outward material signs: automobile, clothing, fraternity membership, money, etc.Women's popularity depended on building and maintaining a reputation of popularity: be seen with popular men in the "right" places, turn down requests for dates made at the last minute and cultivate the impression that you are greatly in demand.You had to rate in order to date, to date in order to rate.
One sociologist wrote in a July 1953 article that each boy and girl ideally should date 25 to 50 eligible marriage partners before making his or her final decision.By the early 1950s, going steady had acquired a totally different meaning.It was no longer the way a marriageable couple signaled their deepening intentions.The article went on to say that if, for some reason, you did not have a date on a particular night, you should keep the lights off in your dorm room so no one would know you were home.Beth Bailey comments, "Popularity was clearly the key — and popularity defined in a very specific way.
One example of this impression management comes from a 1938 article in where a Smith College senior advised incoming freshmen on how to cultivate an "image of popularity." She wrote, "During your first term, get home talent to ply you with letters, telegrams and invitations.