How to snare a male: Dating & marriage advice from 1950

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alluring woman and man in bow tie 1950

How to snare a male

How to snare a male

It takes time, work, and that peculiar brand of courage found only in a determined woman

By Sarah Barish, as told to Herman Styler (unsnared)

So many experts have come out with learned treatises on how to land an eligible bachelor, I thought it about time for an experienced amateur to speak up. There is one big difference between their fancy methods and mine. Mine worked.

About eighteen months ago, my niece, Betsy came to New York from a small town in Massachusetts. She had been a salesgirl in a department store, and felt she was in a rut. Since she had little opportunity to meet the right boys there, her mother had no objection to her going to New York.

What Betsy and I went through in these eighteen months shouldn’t happen to a dog. But I am happy to say she won out before I broke down. So now Betsy has a husband — but I won’t tell you yet what happened to me. After all, I’m only an aunt.

First Betsy went to a “Y,” then she moved to a boardinghouse in Greenwich Village. Then she lived in a furnished room where she had more freedom to come and go. But it didn’t do much good. She just couldn’t meet a man. She would come home at night, sit around and talk with the other girls, do her laundry, go to the movies and then to bed. She felt frustrated and dull. The few other girls she knew weren’t having much of a time, either.

Betsy was in tears the night I called on her. I felt like a heel. Her mother had asked me to watch over her and give her a good steer. But I had failed her.

“What’s the matter, Betsy?” I asked.

“Oh, I wish I were back home,” she cried through her tears. “At least I had some friends there. Who’ve I got in this great big warmhearted city of yours? Tell me, who’ve I got?”

Not knowing what else to say, I whispered gently, but without much conviction, “Well, you have me. Why don’t you let me help you?”

Betsy threw herself into my arms and practically cried herself to sleep. While the going was good, I tiptoed out of her house. I felt terrible. But now I had a project in life. I would get Betsy married, even if it killed me — and it nearly did.

Some people play pinochle. Others collect stamps and coins. But I had Betsy. She would be my hobby. She would fill up my leisure hours and make me the shining, new person I should have been in the first place. Yes, I would do great things for Betsy.

Razor blades & averages

When I arrived home, I talked the problem over with George. George is supposed to be my husband. But basically — that is, intrinsically — he is a sales manager. That was his reason for living, I sometimes feel. He works for a company that manufactures razor blades; so naturally, we both eat, sleep and dream razor blades — which, of course, sometimes gives me nightmares. But George thrives on razor blades. They seem to sharpen his personality. Anyway, I love him, though he loves razor blades.

He works for a company that manufactures razor blades; so naturally, we both eat, sleep and dream razor blades — which, of course, sometimes gives me nightmares. But George thrives on razor blades. They seem to sharpen his personality. Anyway, I love him, though he loves razor blades.

MORE: Courtship and dating: Though romance matters, money also counts (1952)

George believes in the law of averages. He believes in it passionately. He said, “We just have to take her places. Sooner or later she will surely meet a man.” He decided that if we tried the law of averages we might be able to help Betsy get a husband.

The first thing we did was to work out a plan to enable her to meet a man. We tried to find out what she liked to do, and what type of man she was interested in. Actually, she was interested in any kind, she said, and would do anything to get out of that furnished room. She felt that even if she did meet a fellow, she really didn’t have a place where she could bring him.

Her clothes, she thought, were not interesting. The girls she knew where she worked seemed cold. She felt her living in New York had not been successful. Nevertheless, she consented to stick it out. She liked people, and felt that if she only got started she would make friends, meet pleasant men and even get married. This was the situation that faced us when my husband went to work on the law of averages.

How to snare a male: Dating & marriage advice from 1950

George felt that if she worked on a system and went to a number of places regularly each week where decent men would be likely to congregate, she would eventually meet men who would like her, and vice versa. It sounded simple, all right. Little did I realize what was in store for me.

Poor Betsy!

With his usual good sense, George thought we should first attack what troubled Betsy most. She had no place to bring friends. She had tried a “Y” and felt lost in such a large place. A boardinghouse she could afford had proved most depressing, and her present furnished-room arrangement tended to make her careless about eating and needlessly economical.

Poor Betsy! What could we do for her? We went through our list of friends and relatives who might possibly have an alcove to share.

What Betsy really wanted was an apartment with other girls. There were no apartments, but plenty of girls. Frankly, we thought such an arrangement more fun for Betsy, but we were not sure it would lead to marriage. Through a friend, we located a widow who had a tiny room she saved for out-of-town visitors.

My husband blandly related our plan of action, especially the law of averages, and she was intrigued. She had a lively and youthful spirit and was so carried away by the idea of marrying off Betsy that she bought a special tea set which she called “courting dishes” for entertaining the potential beans.

Betsy was a sensitive creature, and we were playing with fire. But she promised to give our beloved law of averages a chance and follow our chart. She was to go four nights a week where men were likely to be.

MORE: Hearts and flowers are no longer theme of courtship (1959)

Betsy didn’t care especially for sports, but she had once gone bowling. Fortunately, there was a bowling club in her neighborhood which met every Tuesday evening. She agreed to try bowling again. If she met no new men and got no dates after four steady weeks of bowling, she would give it up and substitute roller skating. During Betsy’s quest for a man, I lost twenty pounds.

Betsy once had been to a folk-dancing festival in her hometown and had never forgotten the warm, refreshing tone of the evening. So she investigated several groups in the city that met on Thursdays. She felt that two strenuous evenings should be separated by at least one quiet one at home.

After trying one or two, she found a Friday-night group which seemed to attract more young people, so there she went. For Wednesdays, a girl friend suggested a series of free lectures on current subjects. These were usually followed by an informal social hour. So Betsy went there.

Poor Betsy! She was becoming the most versatile and intellectual girl in town, though slightly frayed at the edges. But she endured it with grim determination — more for our sake, we began to feel, than hers.

We taught her to read neighborhood newspapers for notices of parties or dances where one could go with a girl friend. Since her dancing skill seemed to have lapsed from lack of practice, she agreed to take a refresher course Saturday afternoons at a school which arranged regular social hours for practice.

Our chart insured Betsy’s going places where men could be seen at least four times a week. Before razor blades hit him, George used to go to the free museum concerts. That’s where we had met. So maybe having Betsy listen to a concert once a month would bring her luck too. Forgive us, Beethoven, but we were sure our law of averages would work if only Betsy would become a music lover.

Whatever happened at least would be better than four paltry dates in eighteen months. Betsy also wanted to be useful and we arranged for her to do volunteer work at a settlement one night a week. Five nights seemed almost too full a program, but George insisted we give his precious law of averages a chance. So Betsy, stouthearted girl, carried on.

Beauty and wardrobe

She organized herself and her wardrobe. She had five complete outfits at the end of two weeks. She bought some new things, too, spending some of her savings for a dress with a lift to it.

We would get Betsy married or die in the attempt. Sometimes we thought the latter the better way out. We didn’t encourage too many new things until we were sure Betsy was psychologically ready for this routine of blood. sweat and tears on which we had launched her.

There was no excuse on a tired night to say, “I don’t feel like going to a dance tonight — I have nothing to wear,” since she was actually prepared like a ship fitted for sea.

How to snare a male Dating advice from 1950 2

At first, it was hard for Betsy to discuss beautifying treatment, but she finally did something about it.

She experimented with lipstick by buying many small samples, and she also tried other kinds of makeup. She had been brought up to think that mascara was wicked and that it was contrary to nature to pull out a few hairs. But the feeling of being alive and the sound of masculine voices helped Betsy say pleasant things and look more alluring.

ALSO SEE: Should women court men? (1960)

Strange as it may seem. one of Betsy’s problems was girl friends. She had a job in a small factory office and, except for one girl, was isolated from the rest of the workers. This girl was willing to go to lectures, since her boyfriend wanted her to show more interest in world affairs.

As soon as she noticed Betsy’s great curiosity about men, she introduced her to a girl, naturally. The girl was attractive but not too predatory, and liked the idea of going to folk dances. So they went man hunting together. Betsy’s new landlady also arranged a tea each week so she could meet several of her women friends who had eligible sons.

Now Betsy was ready to set sail. She had a wardrobe, a girl with whom to go “hunting,” a chart of at least four and one half places a week to go to, and a co-operative landlady.

The first three weeks were hardest. Two evenings resulted in her being taken home. Only one inspired a follow-up date. But she didn’t give up. She became an expert on bowling and roller skating. and could talk with conviction on almost any subject you named. All this for a man. Sometimes she’d stagger home bleary-eyed from her exertions and I wanted to cry for her, but gradually Betsy began to thrive on it all.

“Oh, I don’t mind doing these things,” she’d smile gallantly, “but maybe I should have started out in Stillman’s gym.”

A great change

Getting married - How to snare a male: Dating and marriage advice from 1950

A great change was coming over our timid little Betsy. She looked rosier, livelier, and little by little, Betsy became a graceful and entrancing girl. The transformation was like a miracle.

But, still no man. George occasionally forgot about razor blades, so we had a conference with Betsy every two weeks. She usually called to tell us about a nibble. But most important, now for the first time in her life, she was really enjoying herself. There was a new spring to her step when she came in the door. “Oh, it was so wonderful last night,” she would exclaim. “I don’t know what I’d ever do without you.

The first month, went out nine times alone. the other times with three different girls. In addition, she had been taken home five times and had tour dates. Two of these had been appointments to meet again at the folk-dancing group. Since she enjoyed the folk dancing so much she changed to another group. At the end of the third month she had a date each week, so she gave up her ballroom-dancing classes.

One Saturday afternoon, Betsy’s teacher called her up and asked her to come to the social hour with a friend. He accidentally had a shortage of women.

A boy was there from a town near Betsy’s in Massachusets. His name was Joe Evans. Betsy and he liked each other immensely. He joined her at skating and concerts. Even Betsy’s landlady liked him. The landlady asked the boy to tea after he had taken Betsy out the second time, and she used the “courting dishes” on him.

MORE: Want to find a husband? Be a secretary (1952)

Success was around the corner. If Betsy couldn’t get a husband any other way, she would soften him up on tea or even opium.

The fourth month, the chart had to be changed. Betsy was sure that the law of averages had worked. This man made her feel gay and at ease. She wasn’t in love, but was ready to be. Nevertheless. we thought she should continue with her other activities.

Betsy now had self-confidence. She felt that she was attractive enough for any man. But she wasn’t ready to married, nor was Joe apparently interested in marriage.

We tried to analyze the situation. Betsy thought she had been overanxious and time not given herself time to make full use of our priceless law of averages. She decided to give Joe a date only every other week, and continue the charity three nights a week.

Then, lo, one day she tried ice skating instead of roller skating! Joe suggested a foursome, since he had another out-of-town friend with him. She liked the new man, too. His name was Bobby Sanders, and he was tall and blond. She told me he resembled George.

Within two months, they were married.

Bobby turned out to be her law of averages. We felt proud at that wedding. My sis wanted to know all about the “average business,” but we told her it was my husband’s business secret. Razor blades, you know.

Anyway, Betsy can now give others matrimonial advice. Here are ten of her chosen rules for success:

Betsy’s 10 rules for dating success

1. Go where men are — keep in practice.

2. Be a man’s friend before you become his loved one.

3. Develop a common interest — and let love steal up on you both.

4. Be prepared, flexible and adjustable. Remember, a button sewed on Monday is ready for a date on Wednesday.

5. Don’t gush over a man on your first date — he may not be a potential husband.

6. Save your lips for the right one. Be warm and genuine.

7. Don’t be afraid to be better-looking than you are.

8. Take stock every month. If the places you go are not productive, try somewhere else.

9. Follow the law of averages.

10. Find yourself a sweet aunt and uncle.

In conclusion, let me say this: Never teach a girl the rudiments of love when there’s man around. At the end of six months, not only did I lose twenty pounds, I lost George and his razor blades. He had to go away, he says, for a good rest.

How to snare a male: Dating & marriage advice from 1950

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