Boomer Dating Manual (1963)

frat partyAt the University of Illinois, a hush-hush little pamphlet circulated among baby boomer sorority girls in the early 1960s, called The Manual. I was one of the few young men lucky enough to get my hands on a copy.

The Manual

Dates are auditions for marriage. Act like a lady, you will be treated like a lady. You hear a lot of talk of how the baby boomer generation is wilder and more risque than their parents. Don’t get sullied by a bad reputation. Boys want old-fashioned girls.

The First Date: A Few Simple Rules

  • Don’t kiss. In response to an advance say: “It’s one of my personal rules not to kiss on a first date.” Then plant a gentle smooch on his cheek.
  • Avoid serious subjects such as politics. Have fun and put him at ease. There’s plenty of time for serious talk later.
  • Be on the quiet side. Let him choose the place to go and topics of conversation. Don’t laugh too loud or talk too much.
  • Go easy on the perfume and make-up. A soft red or pink lipstick is recommended. Clothes should not be too revealing.
  • Holding hands is OK but don’t squeeze. So is taking his arm when crossing streets or negotiating stairs, etc. In fact, he should offer it to you, but try not to be too clingy.
  • In a car or restaurant, you shouldn’t sit too close or too far. About 10" apart is recommended.

Guidelines for Successful Dating

  • If he doesn’t call back within two weeks or offer a good reason why, refuse the next date politely, saying you’re busy – but leave the door open a crack. If he doesn’t call back promptly, end the relationship.
  • Beware of a cheap date. Most of the young men can afford to take you to a nice place. Cheap now means cheap later. Drop him like a bad penny.
  • If on a double date, is his friend a jerk? Jerky friends now, jerky friends later.
  • After you have established a relationship, it’s important to know, without appearing threatening, how he feels about children. Tell him about a little niece or nephew or friend’s child and see how he reacts.
  • Again, after you’ve established a relationship, find out about his career plans. You can be more aggressive on this subject as the dating continues. If he refuses to entertain the question at all, you should be suspicious. Maybe he has none. There are many fish in the ocean.
  • Kissing on the second date is OK. Be careful not to be too passionate right away. Don’t let his tongue enter your mouth at this point. Let this be a privilege he earns.
  • Smile a lot. Be mindful of having your face fall into an unconscious frown. Practice you smile in front of a mirror. A great smile with stained teeth is a waste of time. Get a teeth cleaning twice a year.
  • If your date doesn’t smoke, don’t smoke. If your date doesn’t drink, don’t drink. Always refuse a drink if you are underage. Smoking is not feminine. Women who smoke are sometimes regarded as easy. If you must, refrain until the third date and smoke a filter tip. Never let a cigarette dangle from you mouth. It’s OK to hold his hand when he’s giving you a light. Keep in mind that smoking creates yellow teeth and bad breath. Bring breath mints. Best advice: refrain and light up after the date.
  • When you’re going to dance fast, bring extra deodorant. When slow dancing on the first few dates, don’t let him put his hands in inappropriate places or rub his body against yours. This is often an opportunity when young men will test and see what they can get away with.
  • Say “thank you” after every appropriate gesture. frat partyThis reinforces desirable behavior.
  • When he lets you into the car on the passenger side, slide over and open the lock for him. He should expect this. If not, he will be pleasantly surprised.
  • No capris, dungarees, pedal pushers or blue jeans except when appropriate, like clam digging or hay rides. Such clothes may be popular, but men like to see women in skirts.
  • If you have ambitions outside the home, don’t discuss this initially. Let him know your goal is to be a good mother and homemaker. You will be immediately treated with respect.
  • In general, especially early in the relationship, refrain from too much criticism of him. Make a written list of his traits, behavior and attitudes you’d like to change, but keep the details to yourself. Review and revise it. Chart his progress.
  • Sit upright and walk upright. Never slouch. Always project a positive attitude!!


  • We recommend no sex before marriage or at least an official engagement. Most men want to marry a virgin. He might think: “If she does it with me, she’ll do it with anyone.” He could even be testing you, hoping you’ll refrain.You can never lose by saying no. If he would leave over that issue before an engagement, you don’t want him.
  • A fraternity pinning is not an engagement. Some young men don’t take it seriously and use the pinning as an excuse to rush sex. At best, it’s an engagement to be engaged, a small step up from “going steady.” An engagement with a ring is a public commitment. If you decide to have sex before marriage, make it clear: if you get pregnant, he will marry you.

A Quick Check List: “Little things mean a lot”

Does He…??

  • Open the door?
  • Help you put on your coat?
  • Pull the chair out for you?
  • Walk between you and the curb? ? Light your cigarette?
  • Use polite language? If he’s coarse and swears now, imagine what he’ll do later when he gets comfortable with you?

You should always be thinking of the future: is this young man good husband material?

Terry Hamburg writes the Boomer to You blog about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.

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