Dating in the 1930s was nothing like it is today.

Dating during the 1930s would have been hard. The great depression had just hit and times were tough. At least everyone was in the same rickety boat, leaking money all over the place. Everything about life became less flashy and more subdued.

Still, people wanted to fall in love. They wanted to meet that special someone, woo them or be wooed and then settle down. In that regard, not much has changed.

What has changed about dating are the rules.

Rules for dating in the 1930s:

Don’t sit awkwardly;

Women were advised not to talk to men about fashion and clothes;

Don’t be overly affectionate;

Don’t talk while dancing;

Never go bra-free on a date;

Don’t talk about any other dates;

Give him all of your attention;

No crying in public, in fact, no displays of any strong emotion;

Be ready when he arrives;

Minimal makeup;

Don’t drink alcohol.

Charlie Chaplin did it best. Even just buying flowers were expertly turned into flirtations and romantic gestures. Article continues after this video.

Video by Charlie Chaplin

Rules for dating now:

Women and men spend the first few minutes of the date comparing FitBit data;


Sit however the hell you like;

If you don’t at least get a snog at the end, something has gone wrong;

Talk dirty while dancing;

Don’t wear a bra;

Talk about other dates to make it clear you are wanted by others;

Pretend to forget he is there from time to time;

Cry if you must but only after you’ve told him to get stuffed and stomped away;

Don’t be ready when he arrives, leave him waiting awkwardly;

As much or as little makeup as you like;

Match him shot-for-shot to earn his respect;

Quite a bit has changed, and it doesn’t stop there. When it comes to what each of us wants from a partner there are a few surprises.

Image courtesy of Max Roser,

Biggest changes

Modern men value a desire for kids and cooking skills more highly than men in the 1930s who would have just expected it then which is head-slappingly annoying.

Chastity is no longer required. Oh yeah!

Neatness, refinement and a pleasing disposition aren't as highly regarded. Although I'd like to say here that good hygiene is STILL required thank you very much.

1930s men valued ambition and industriousness in women, as opposed to now when it is considered less important in a partner. Huh?

It makes sense that there was so much focus on staying sober and giving each other all of your attention. This was how you got to know each other then, face-to-face. There had been no Tinder conversations, no Facebook "research" on each other's lives and often no shared experiences, aside from those friends and family you had in common.

We all got there in the end. We can discuss the sharp increase in the divorce rate since the 1930s until now for another time.

Then, it just wasn't done! Or, at least, it was hardly done.