129 Ways to Land a Spouse

Sure, meeting new people and getting to know each other in the age of online dating and Netflix binging has its difficulties. There’s no denying angsting over how long you’re supposed to wait between texting each other and trying to decode the hidden meaning behind their most-used emojis can be complicated – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was any easier in the “good old days.”

If you think previous generations had a more movie-esque kind of love affair to fall back on, you might not have seen the famous “129 Ways To Get A Husband” article published in 1958. With advice ranging from “Make and sell toupees – bald men are easy catches” and “Stand in a corner and cry softly. Chances are good he’ll come over to find out what’s wrong.” it’s hard to imagine which generation might have had it worse.

For a closer look at some of the worst advice for finding love, to the pet peeves guaranteed to turn us off completely, we surveyed over 1,000 people for a modern take. We asked them what they really think about the best ways to find that perfect someone, their biggest red flags in a new relationship, and which behaviors are the most likely to create resentment between spouses in the long run. Read on as we break down the difference between good dating advice and truly cringe-worthy habits.

Words of Wisdom

Whether it’s a romantic relationship or a platonic friendship, studies show building strong connections with other people can help improve our mental health, help us live longer, make us more confident, and give us a broader perspective to see the world. Of the “129 Ways To Find A Spouse” listed in the 1958 McCall’s magazine, we asked men and women to rank the most valuable hidden nuggets of decent advice.

According to women, roughly 1 in 10 voted making your home comfortable when a date comes over, showing them you can have fun on a cheap date, and sticking to your moral standards as the best ways to find a spouse according to McCall’s recommendations. These tidbits of advice might not be far off, either. Relationship experts say that having a routine date night is crucial to happy relationships, even after you’re married.

For men, another 1 in 10 voted for having fun on a cheap date, taking good care of your health, and making your home comfortable as the best ways to attract a spouse. In addition to making sure the dishes are done or the sheets are clean, new couples might want to ensure there are no remnants from a past relationship hanging about and any signs of certain political persuasions have been sufficiently tucked away.

Avoid At All Costs

While not all of the “129 Ways To Find A Spouse” listed in the 1958 McCall’s magazine were outdated or laughable by today’s standards, several suggestions made people we surveyed cringe. Not only were these particular proposals not an effective solution for finding someone you might want to marry, but they could also do the exact opposite instead.

According to women, the best ways to ruin your chances with someone following the McCall’s method of dating included having your car break down in a strategic location, telling a rich person you “like their money,” and getting a hunting license. And while men agreed that having your car break down on purpose was one of the worst ways to attract someone new, they were even more turned off by someone who might mention marriage on the first date or volunteer for jury duty. Knowing when to bring up marriage for the first time can be complicated, but most relationships benefit by waiting at least a year before broaching the topic.

Warning Signs

Once the honeymoon phase of a new relationship starts to wear off, you might be looking for signs that things are moving in the right direction. Even after you’ve been dating for some time, insecurities aren’t uncommon and these reassurances can help people feel equally invested in the relationship. Laughing together often, celebrating each other’s differences, prioritizing your time together, and having open, honest discussions tend to be reliable signals that things are going well.

On the other hand, there are some equally important signs that things might be off to a rocky start. For women, early clues that a relationship might be headed to a dead end included patterns who were too controlling, who didn’t text back when they were out, or who preferred to give advice instead of comfort. In contrast, men identified partners who overshare on social media, who gave ultimatums, and who were too jealous as the biggest red flags when dating someone.

And while older generations were more concerned with dating someone who didn’t keep their word (Baby Boomers) or dating someone who was afraid of commitment (Generation X), we found Generation Z couples identified dating someone who doesn’t answer their texts as the biggest pet peeve.

Particular Preferences

It may be common to refer to the time after matrimony as “wedded bliss,” but getting hitched can be anything but for some couples. In reality, married life has plenty of challenges people only dating might not encounter and your chemistry together may only be able to take you so far.

According to more than 3 in 4 people we surveyed, the first year of marriage was the most difficult because of how household chores were completed. There’s more than one way to load the dishwasher and doing it incorrectly could be getting on your spouses’ nerves. More than anything else, couples who got married realized they might be squeezing the toothpaste incorrectly (85 percent), folding the laundry wrong (72 percent), and even showering incorrectly (71 percent).

Negative Emotions

More than lying, cheating, or money problems, experts suggest one of the biggest issues couples face is how to deal with resentment. When one partner prioritizes their own experience over the other’s it can make them feel less deserving of empathy and drive a wedge between couples and spouses that’s difficult to repair.

Of people we surveyed who experienced resentment towards their spouses, we found 92 percent of men were the most resentful of having to initiate sex every time they wanted to be intimate with their partners and 84 percent resented needing to making all of the decisions for their relationship. Among women, we found 90 percent resented feeling pressured for sex while 87 percent resented needing to do all of the emotional labor. No matter how much you love each other, a majority of relationships experience a shift in sexual intimacy over time. Studies show married couples often have lower levels of sexual satisfaction, and many couples struggle to effectively communicate when their libido changes.

LGBTQ Concerns

All across the country, support for same-sex relationships is growing. In 2015, the Supreme Court endorsed same-sex marriage, propelling LGBTQ couples into a new generation of social and legal advances. Still, studies suggest same-sex romantic relationships may be somewhat less stable than different-sex relationships and typically don’t last as long. Those same studies propose same-sex couples who live together or who ultimately decide to get married are either equally as stable or sometimes more stable than different-sex couples.

While nearly two in three same-sex couples told us one of the unexpected advantages of their relationship was being able to wear each other’s clothes, we found they also faced problems exclusive to LGBTQ partnerships. Most commonly, the perception of forced gender roles (88 percent), being worried about the optics of their relationships in less progressive areas (85 percent), and being with someone who isn't “out” (77 percent) were the biggest issues associated with same-sex relationships.

Advice From Real Couples

By modern standards, the “129 Ways To Get A Husband” article printed in 1958 is more a relic to back and laugh at rather than sound dating advice. While people we surveyed were able to pick out a few nuggets of guidance that still had value, it was perhaps even easier to pick out the suggestions they’d recommend avoiding at all costs. Instead, they helped us understand the issues facing real couples today, including what triggers resentment in married couples, and issues specific to LGBTQ relationships.

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