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We Are Shaking Our Heads At Some Dating Tips From 1958

Brainstorming became a fad in the 1950s and everyone was getting in on it. Apparently, that included relationship advice columns.

When Kim Marx-Kuczynski stumbled across the January 1958 issue of MacCall's magazine, she bought it because the cover advertised "129 Ways to Get a Husband." The list put together a team of "experts" to brainstorm ideas.

It did not disappoint. Of course, I can't feature all 129 here, but I picked out some of the best — worst? — for your entertainment.

"Get a dog and walk it."

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The "Where to Find Him" section starts out okay. This is a classic tip for any single person looking to meet new people, whether on walks in the neighborhood or at the local dog park.

"Have your car break down at strategic places."

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Then it starts to get a bit weird.

What does it consider a strategic place? And it's assuming both that A) a woman wouldn't be able to solve the problem herself, and B) that she could control when and where a breakdown happened.

"Look in the census reports for places with the most single men. Nevada has 125 males for every 100 females."


Well, clearly I've been underestimating the power of statistics in my search for a man. Apparently, my city is 52% female as of the most recent census, so the obvious thing to do is pack up my entire life and career to move to somewhere more viable.

"Read obituaries to find eligible widowers."

Unsplash | Alexandre Croussette

Then, presumably, you strategically plan for your car to break down outside the wake, forcing you to go inside and ask the bereaved for aid. Bonus points if you have a dog with you, right?

"Be friendly to ugly men — handsome is as handsome does."

I'm not even sure what this means. Like, is it saying that being friendly will make him seem more handsome to you, or that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover? I mean, that's not terrible advice, but it's an awful way to present it.

"Go to all reunions of your high school or college class. There may be widowers there."

Why is this list so obsessed with widowers? There are lots of reasons to go to a reunion — and lots of reasons not to, really — but praying on widowers feels like it's low on the list for most people.

"Don't be afraid to associate with more attractive girls; they may have some leftovers."

The "panel of experts" that brainstormed this list was all men, wasn't it? The article doesn't explicitly say so, but I'm getting a distinctive whiff of a not very diverse group of thinkers here.

"Learn to paint. Set up easel outside engineering school. "

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Why an engineering school specifically? Why not any school or any place where men might be curious about a woman painting the scenery? Some of these are oddly specific.

"Wear a Band-Aid. People always ask what happened."


The "How to Let Him Know You're There" section gets even weirder.

It's pretty much a list of random ways to be weird or manipulative.

"Dropping the handkerchief still works."

I get the idea of having something returned to you, but why is a handkerchief considered romantic? It's an often unwashed collection of snot and tears!

"Stand in a corner and cry softly. Chances are good that he'll come over to find out what's wrong."

As a millennial, I don't have time to cry to get a man. I'm too busy crying from the stress of debt and limited career opportunities.

"Get better-looking glasses — men still make passes at girls who wear glasses — or try contact lenses."

I feel like if guys weren't into women with glasses, the "sexy librarian" trope wouldn't be a thing that exists.

Considering that in 1958 contact lenses were still hard plastic, I'd give that option a pass.

"Wear high-heels most of the time — they're sexier!"


The "How to Look Good to Him" section is full of outdated crap.

This tip is made better by the tip after it: "Unless he happens to be shorter than you are!"

"Get a sunburn."

Beauty standards were very different in the 1950s, weren't they? Apparently, red and peeling skin was considered...appealing.

I didn't intend for that pun, but once I realized it was happening, I had no regrets.

"Go on a diet if you need to."

"If you need to," huh?

I keep trying to tell myself that it was a different time, but this reeks so hard of fat-shaming that I can't even with it.

"Change the shade of your stockings and be sure to keep the seems straight. "

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At first, I wondered how much men would even care about straight seams. It appears more like a women shaming women thing, but that would mean that a woman was on this panel of experts, which I'm still in doubt of.

"Don't whine — girls who whine stay on the vine!"

Look, no one likes a person who complains about everything. That's common sense.

But this specific "tip" is just aggravating in how condescending it seems.

"Send his mother a birthday card."

The "How to Land Him" section focuses quite a lot on the guy's parents.

Highlights also include: "Ask his mother for her recipes," and "Talk to his father about business and agree that taxes are too high!"

"Hide your Phi Beta Kappa key if you own one — later on junior can play with it."

Speaking of condescending, if you've worked hard to earn such a prestigious academic honor, then you'll want to make sure your prospective husband doesn't know it. Play dumb, girls!

"Turn wolves into husband material by assuming they have honor."

Unsplash | David Tostado

Why yes, ladies, if a guy is predatory, just assume he's actually honorable and he'll totally become a husband you can trust! What could possibly go wrong?

"Point out to him that the death rate of single men is twice that of married men."

But wouldn't that make you seem smart? Spouting statistics like you know something about how they work?

Make up your minds, dudes!

"Wild Ideas — Anything Goes" is the best section by far.

By this point, I would guess the room was getting rather tipsy. Highlights include:

  • "If your mother is fat, tell him you take after your father. If he's fat too, tell him you're adopted!"
  • "Sink at a fashionable beach at high noon!"
  • "Stand on a busy street corner with a lasso."
  • "Make and sell toupees — bald men are easy catches!"

My favorite Wild Idea has to be "Stow away on a battleship."

Because that can only end well, right ladies? I'm sure that as long as those seams are straight, those men will all find you totally endearing and not at all endangering to yourself or the crew.

I'm not saying that brainstorming in general is a bad starting place, but...

Maybe don't publish lists like this without culling the crap from the collection. The article may state that "Judgments are out. Criticism of ideas is a job for tomorrow," but tomorrow has come.

And oh, are we ever judging you now.

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