Jun 01

How Dating has Changed Since The 1950s

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Relationship site eHarmony tells Frost Magazine about the similarities and differences between dating in the 1950s and the 2010s


In less than a week’s time Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip will stand side by side as the nation celebrates her sixty year reign. But how did the young Princess know when she first met her dashing Duke that he was to be her life partner? Were the customs of courtship in the 1940s and 1950s more successful in bringing lifelong couples together? To celebrate this Diamond Jubilee, relationship site eHarmony reviews how young couples met and dated sixty years ago and compares the advice given then, to our contemporary words of wisdom. And which makes more sense? You decide.


Dating in the 1950s

Dating in the 2010s

Men did the asking

It was always the man who proposed a date. It was not polite or acceptable for women to suggest an evening out together. With no answer machines or text messages in existence women would have to wait for a knock at the door or a telephone call. Men frequently ask

Whilst it’s still traditional for a man to ask, today women can and often do ask men on dates. For online daters many first dates are organised through email, text and by phone, this allows us all to have a bit more courage to ask .A date was a date

In the 40s and 50s, there was no confusion about what a date meant to either party. It was rare for men and women to be just friends. So if a man called a woman and asked her to dinner, he certainly had romance on his mind. Is this a date?

Men and women are now often friends, and can stay friends without any romantic involvement, even once a relationship comes to an end.  So inviting someone to a pub or restaurant or accepting such invitation is no longer a certain hint at romantic intentions. Timing was everything

Notice was absolutely necessary for a date in polite society. At least two or three days’ notice was required for a lady’s diary and times to collect and return your young lady were critical. Competing for time

Modern daters are busy with their lives, and if they’re not around when the phone rings, it is acceptable to call back when convenient or to arrange a second date through a text or email. Respond immediately to your date invitation

If a lady was lucky enough to be asked out, it was her duty to respond immediately and of course with absolute politeness. Appearing too keen

Modern day dating seems to be more like a power battle. If a man asks, a woman cannot appear too keen. And yet, respond late and she risks appearing disinterested, particularly if the dater is communicating with other online matches. Always be on time

There’s no such thing as fashionably late; ladies must be ready when their date arrived. Always be on time

Today it is still considered rude to keep your date waiting for any longer than 5 minutes. Particularly if you are meeting in a public place (see below). Collecting your date

When date night arrived, the man would always organise the transportation. He would come to the door to greet his date before taking her to their venue and he always brought her safely home to her family. Meeting in public is a good idea

Unlike the traditional custom of collecting and being collected, today it is more common to make your own way to the first date and is sensible to meet in a public place. This takes away any fear and ensures safety until you get to know your date a little more. Introducing your date to your parents on a first date

When a man collected his young lady, it was customary for her to introduce him to her parents who would want to approve that he was suitable for their daughter. Introducing your date to family and friends means it’s serious

For many modern day daters, busy with work, life and possibly kids, introducing a partner to parents or family is more likely to happen once the dating phase is close or into the ‘relationship’ phase. Men always ordered

When dining out, the young lady should always tell her male friend what she would like before he orders for her.I know what I want

Today, it is unheard of to expect your date to order for you. Women know what they want and will ask for it.Men always paid

When the bill arrived, the man would always pay. It was unthinkable for a woman to offer any money.The payment dilemma

Many men still feel that they should pick up the bill, but paying is a tricky issue. Sometimes women are insulted at the implication they can’t take care of themselves. For some men, traditional notions are outdated. It is polite to always offer to “Go Dutch” but to accept if the other party then insists that he or she should pay.



Jenni Trent Hughes, Relationship Expert for eHarmony believes the dating process holds a mirror to the society of the time. She says: “In the 40s and 50s, the family unit was strong and often men and women in their twenties were still living at home with their families. Communities were close and approval was of paramount importance. Politeness and reference was a critical part of the dating process. Today our society is more fractured. We move away from home for work or college and both men and women are juggling busy lives and demands on their time. We meet more as equals and must make our own decisions. It’s fast paced and exciting but not without its etiquette protocols entirely.”


For more information on how to make the most of the dating experience, check out eHarmony’s Dating Advice site at: http://www.eharmony.co.uk/relationship-advice/dating