A 1954 guide to: Dating do's & don'ts

By Michelle Duff

A young couple enjoy a postprandial smoke during a romantic picnic, circa 1950. Photo / Getty Images
A young couple enjoy a postprandial smoke during a romantic picnic, circa 1950. Photo / Getty Images

As a modern woman, I'm always on the hunt for advice that will make me more alluring.

It's almost a full-time job trawling Instagram for selfie inspiration, studying Keeping up with the Kardashians and writing Cosmopolitan-style research quizzes for friends.

While in an op shop recently, my eyes alighted on a black book with Esquire's Handbook for Hosts ascribed down its spine. Could this be what I was looking for? With quivering hands, I turned to page 262. How Attractive Are You to Men? The chapter asked. Good question, Esquire magazine of yore. Foolishly assuming it couldn't get any better, I turned the page. How Attractive Are You to Women? It enquired. Here are the main take-homes.

How to attract a man

Don't beat them at drinking games

So you like a tequila and can drink more than a few beers without collapsing into a puddle of your own vomit? Don't. Being able to hold your booze is eminently unattractive.

"Do men marvel at your capacity for holding liquor?" Esquire asks. "A grave mistake; it gives you a fast reputation and runs into money - the man's money - besides."

It's unclear what to do if you are a really good runner who earns her own cash. Either way, it seems safer to stick to the wine cooler, or feign a coma early in the evening.

Don't talk - except to compliment

Conversation is such a minefield. One slip of the tongue and the target of your interest will see you for the unworthy slapper you truly are.

"Do you bring the names of other men into the conversation to give yourself a sought-after appearance?" Esquire asks. "Don't. This may give a man a sense of inferiority - he is uncomfortable with you, and soon drifts away to someone else." But all is not lost - if you do drive him away with your loose talk, you can reel him back in with some simpering banter.

"Do you ever embarrass a man by telling him he's good looking, has big muscles or is too, too intelligent?" Esquire reveals. "Try it! Almost any man can stand almost any amount of flattery, however obvious, without embarrassment or suspicion."

The death-knell for any date, though? Being a tease. "Do you keep men interested by hinting that later - not tonight - you'll be really demonstrative? This is a low trick."

Sew in secret

Do you wear clothes that make you a little more up-to-the-minute than other women in your set? Are you beautifully groomed? Good. "Men are extremely critical of any imperfection in a girl's neatness," Esquire reminds us. While you should wear stylish clothes, do not ever let him catch you making them. "For some reason, men hate to see a woman doing anything with her hands when talking to her," Esquire marvels. "Undivided attention is best." This hands-off advice enters a grey area when it comes to dancing and bridge, at which a woman must be skilled.

"If you do not do either of these well, take steps to correct it at once. At least one talent is mandatory." Holding your liquor doesn't count.

Don't be a feminist

Think that creak as you open the car door is harmless? Think again. It's the sound of another man being emasculated as you deprive him of his rightful duty. Helping a dude out by suggesting he enter a car first or preventing him from standing up for you is an error. "Men respect a girl more if she takes these signs of consideration as a matter of course."

When it comes to double dates, don't even think of hooking his mate up with someone unattractive.

Personality counts for diddly-squat here. "Get the most glamourous woman you know, and both men will be pleased."

Invest in an expensive chair

There's nothing worse than trying to seduce a woman with a crick in your back. "How many comfortable chairs are there in your living room?" Esquire politely inquires. "At least two, I hope. No man can fall in love unless he has a chance to relax and he can't if either of you sits bolt upright."

How to attract a woman

Don't be (too much of) a dick

While it is very tempting to list a woman's bad points, this is ill-advised. However, you can do so if you couch it as a compliment. "If you must tell her you hate her perfume or how she does her hair, wrap it up in heavy sugar-coating," Esquire advises. Maybe something like: "Why, Mary, your outfit looks divine. If only you didn't have that dead minx wrapped around your delightful neck."

No PDA

"Even a girl who is affectionate in private dislikes a public mauling." Well said, Esquire.

Women are delicate flowers

While swearing and fart jokes might be where you get your lols, the fairer sex will not be titillated, Esquire warns. "Do you make distinctions between the jokes you'd tell a man in the club shower and those you'd tell a girl in a parked automobile? Almost no women like bathroom jokes or jokes with dirty words." Well, I'll be damned.

- Canvas

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