Ghost of Dating Advice Past


The holiday season is upon us and so is the season of self-loathing. The time when singles around the globe feel their “single-hood” in such a poignant and powerful way that the urge to run and hide is tangible. Watching happy couples and “complete” families celebrate the holidays is a painful reminder of what they do not have but desperately want. Often your friends and family begin to toss out advice in rapid-fire form to help you hook up for the holidays. Unfortunately, most of what they tell you is as useless as handing you a hammer when you are trying to fix a broken vase.

Because of advances in technology and communication, there are literally dozens of ways that singles can meet other singles today. However, dating advice hasn’t kept up the same frenzied pace. It’s as if the ghost of dating past is still haunting us today. Read the following list of dating advice that was published in McCall’s in 1958 and see if any of these old tired pieces of advice have been given to you recently.



  1. Get a dog and walk it.
  2. Have your car break down in strategic places.
  3. Attend night school. Take courses men like.
  4. Read the obituaries to find eligible widowers.
  5. Sit on a park bench and feed the pigeons.
  6. Get a job in a medical, dental, or law school.
  7. Ask your friends’ husbands who the eligible men are in their offices.
  8. Be nice to everybody—they may have an eligible brother or son.
  9. Volunteer for jury duty.
  10. Be friendly to ugly men—handsome is as handsome does.
  11. Get lost at football games.
  12. Don’t take a job in a company run largely by women.
  13. Go to all reunions of your high school or college class. There may be widowers there.
  14. Don’t be afraid to associate with girls that are more attractive; they may have leftovers.
  15. Go back to your hometown for a visit. The wild kid next door may have become a very eligible bachelor while you were away.
  16. Don’t room with a girl who is a sad sack and let her pull you down to her level.
  17. Learn to paint. Set up your easel outside an engineering school.


  1. Stumble when you walk into a room that he’s in.
  2. Carry a hatbox.
  3. Wear a Band-Aid. People always ask what happened.
  4. Make a lot of money.
  5. Walk up to him and tell him you need some advice.
  6. Dropping the handkerchief still works.
  7. Stand in a corner and cry softly. Chances are good that he’ll come over and find out what’s wrong.
  8. Buy a convertible. Men like to ride in them.
  9. Learn how to bake tasty apple pies. Bring one in to the office and let the eligible bachelors taste it.
  10. If there’s a wallflower among the men you know, why not cultivate him? For all you know, he may be a diamond in the rough.
  11. “Accidentally” have your purse fly open, scattering its contents all over the street.


  1. Get better-looking glasses. Men still make passes at girls who wear glasses. Or try contact lenses.
  2. Practice your drinking with your women friends first.
  3. If you dye your hair, pick a shade and stick to it.
  4. Wear high heels most of the time—they’re sexier.
  5. Tell him he’s handsome.
  6. Take good care of your health. Men don’t like girls who are ill.
  7. If you look good in sweaters, wear one on every third date.
  8. Get a sunburn.
  9. When you are with him, order your steak rare.
  10. Don’t tell him about your allergies.
  11. European women use their eyes to good advantage. Practice in front of a mirror.
  12. Use the ashtray; don’t crush out cigarettes in coffee cups!
  13. Don’t be too fussy.
  14. Don’t whine—girls who whine stay on the vine!


  1. Show him you can have fun on a cheap date—but don’t overdo it.
  2. Don’t let your parents treat him like a potential husband.
  3. Tell his friends nice things about him.
  4. Send his mother a birthday card.
  5. Ask his mother for recipes.
  6. Talk to his father about business and agree that taxes are too high.
  7. Buy his sister’s children an occasional present.
  8. Don’t talk about how many children you want.
  9. If he’s a fisherman, learn to scale and clean fish.
  10. When you’re out strolling with him, don’t insist on stopping at every shop window.
  11. Don’t tell him how much your clothes cost.
  12. Don’t gossip about him.
  13. Never let him know he’s the only one, even if you have to stay home one or two nights a week.
  14. Find out about the girls he hasn’t married. Don’t repeat the mistakes they made.
  15. If you are widowed or divorced, don’t constantly discuss your former husband.
  16. Be flexible. If he decides to skip the dance and go rowing on the lake . . . go! Even if you are wearing your best evening gown.
  17. Hide your Phi Beta Kappa key if you own one—later on junior can play with it.
  18. Turn wolves into husband material by assuming they have honor.
  19. Resist the urge to make him over—before marriage, that is!
  20. Remain innocent but not ignorant.
  21. Learn to play poker.
  22. If he’s rich, tell him you like his money—the honesty will intrigue him.
  23. Never let him believe your career is more important to you than marriage.
  24. Point out to him that the death rate of single men is twice that of married men.


  1. Go to Yale.
  2. Get a hunting license.
  3. If your mother is fat, tell him you take after your father. If he’s fat too, tell him you’re adopted.
  4. Stow away on a battleship.
  5. Rent a billboard and post your picture and telephone number on it.

While some of these ideas are outright dangerous, most of the others are just plain insulting. They focus on changing yourself into something you are not instead of focusing on becoming your best self. That is what you need to do. Become your best self. Then trust the process. Dating is a lot of trial and error. You will get bumps and bruises along the way. You will most likely even get a broken heart or two. However, the last thing you want to do is change yourself into something you are not to try and “catch” a spouse. The love of your life WILL love you for who you are. So, while you are being patient with the process, spend time loving yourself. And when your friends or family offer a less than helpful piece of dating advice, put on a big smile and laugh it off.

By miriamrobertson

About Miriam - She's a single mom of 2 wonderful girls. She has a Master Degree in English. She is an educator, speaker, published author and also blogs for DatingSafe. You can reach her at:

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