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17 Ridiculous Dating Etiquette Rules from the 1950s

Updated: Aug. 30, 2023

Here’s a look back at some dos and don’ts that show why spending a Saturday night with your sweetheart during the '50s was the cat’s meow.

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Shelly Sitzer
Courtesy Shelly Sitzer/Reminisce Extra

Making the first move

Apparently, guys were supposed to ask out girls—only “floozies” ask guys out on a date first.

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Isabel Viges
Courtesy Isabel Viges/Reminisce Extra

Respond quickly

When someone asks you out, you’re supposed to give an immediate answer to be polite. With today’s online dating, not responding could mean you’re ghosting someone—which is still considered rude. Here’s more marriage advice from the 1950s that still applies today.

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70s couple
Fairchild Archive/Penske Media/Shutterstock

No excuses

Never break a date without providing a valid reason. Not interested in meeting up with someone? You’re going to have to come up with something better than needing to wash your hair.

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Lou Barkacs
Courtesy Lou Barkacs/Reminisce

Be on time

Women should never be late to a date. When dates arrive, you should be ready to go. That was an etiquette rule decades ago that still stands today. Also, here are the top 30 dating deal breakers for men today.

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Debbie Lane
Courtesy DebbieLane/Reminisce

Meet the parents

Getting introduced to your girlfriend’s parents can be a pretty big step in a relationship. In the ’50s, though, it was customary for girls to introduce all dates to their parents first. These cheesy pick-up lines could be straight out of the fifties.

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couple roller skating
Fairchild Archive/Penske Media/Shutterstock

Applying makeup

Before you left for a date is when you should be putting on makeup. Primping in public was a big no-no. Check out these 18 vintage photos of what dating was really like in the 1950s.

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Couple in a restaurant looking at each other and sharing a milk shake with two straws
Everett Collection/Shutterstock

Don’t place your order

If your date took you out to eat, it was ladylike to tell him what you wanted for dinner so he could order it for you. Sound ridiculous? These are 12 even crazier dating protocols from the 1930s.

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Couple toasting with mugs
Everett Collection/Shutterstock

Who pays?

Why, men of course. If a woman tried to pay for a date in the 1950s, it would be humiliating to guys. But dating can be expensive these days, so perhaps splitting the check is the nice thing to do.

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couple picnic vintage
Ewing Galloway\Uig/Shutterstock

Don’t wait

Procrastinating on asking a girl out was one of the worst things a guy could do when he was dating.

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Man with flowers kissing womans hand
Everett Collection/Shutterstock

Ring the bell

Sending an “I’m here” text didn’t exist in the ’50s. When a man picked up his date, he was supposed to go to the front door of her house to call for her. Honking the car horn from the driveway was also considered poor form.

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1940s couple
Underwood Archives/UIG/Shutterstock

Have a watch

After meeting the parents before a date, guys were supposed to ask the girl’s parents when they wanted her back home. Having a working watch was the best way to make sure you didn’t bring her back too late, especially if you wanted a second date. Find out 25 things that are considered dating deal breakers for women these days.

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Woman in a fur coat having a conversation with a man
Everett Collection/Shutterstock

Don her coat

If you wanted to show your date how polite you were, you would help her put on her coat. It would be extra special if you offered her your coat when she didn’t have one.

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John Douglas Green
Courtesy John Douglas Green/Reminisce Extra

Open the door

Real gentlemen open car doors for ladies. Really, men are supposed to open any door for their date and let them walk in first.

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couple walking
Fairchild Archive/Penske Media/Shutterstock

Curb it

Chivalry might not be considered dead if men still walked between their date and the curb of the sidewalk. Even if you weren’t born in the ’50s, here are dating mistakes that anyone over 40 years old should avoid.

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Harold Tabb
Courtesy Harold Tabb/Reminisce

Be loaded

With money, that is. OK, so maybe being rich wasn’t a dating rule in the ’50s. However, men were expected to bring enough money along so that the woman didn’t have to pay for anything. This is what homecoming looked like in the 50s.

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Charles Romero
Courtesy Charles Romero/Reminisce Extra

No kissing

On the first date at least!

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Johanna Young
Courtesy Johanna Young/Reminisce

Bring the corsage

On prom night, you better not forget the corsage in the fridge! Now that would be embarrassing.

Originally Published in Reminisce