Growing up, my grandma was never short of advice for me, especially about dating. And, as much as I refused to listen, she ended up being right.
Since she dated a lot before she got married — "Many men tried to court me before your grandpa caught me" — and stayed married for almost 40 years, I figured her tips had merit.
Now, she is 92 and I asked her to recap that advice. Here's what she had to say:
1. “Let him come to you.”
Now, with Google, Facebook, friends and friends of friends, we can find out anything about a potential date — even where he works and his phone number.
In my grandma's day, when she was in her 20s in the 1940s (!!), it wasn't as easy as hitting a couple of computer buttons or clicking "friend request" on our iPhones.
“If you can find him, he can find you. Back in my day, men had to use their parents as a resource. They'd find out where I lived, where I went to church or where I socialized after school.
"Or, they could 'conveniently' bump into me at the local dance hall on any Saturday night. But, their persistence paid off.
If guys did it back then, with such limited resources and telephones that were plugged into the wall that I had to share with my entire nine-person household, they could do so nowadays, too.
"No excuses. Though, I hear the types of dance halls have changed.”
2. “Don't call him. (He knows how to pick up the phone.)”
“My old-world European mother always said to let the man call. 'Let him be the gentleman,' she'd say. If you call first, you're taking away that opportunity, and you don't get to see if he's a gentleman.
"You should only date gentlemen. Life's too short not to.”
3. “Don't ask him out.”
“The same way a man should call you, he should also ask you out for a date — date meaning an agreed upon time and place. If he ‘can’t’ (i.e., ‘doesn’t’), he’s doing you a favor.
"You want to date a young man who's not afraid to take initiative. If he's afraid of that, imagine other things he won’t be gutsy enough to do (like meet your father). Gentlemen know how to do the asking.
"I hear sending typed messages on the phone is popular, but it doesn’t seem like a romantic or personable way to ask someone for their company.”
4. “Tell someone where you’re going.”
“In the olden days, I’d have my brothers as a back-up if a date was a drip or got out of line. (I’m lucky they were in the Army and looked threatening.)
"Make sure you tell someone where you’ll be, and the timeframe of when you’ll be there. You may want to have them call you to check in at some point, also.”
5. “Let him pick you up.”
“Your gentleman caller should come get you for your date and make sure you get home safely. I’m not saying a stranger should pick you up, but men you know should have no qualms about it.
"And, if he doesn’t drive you home, he should at least cover your cab fare.”
6. “He did the inviting, he should pay.”
“If he doesn’t have enough money in his wallet, there are plenty of free activities: ice cream socials, taking a walk, having a fountain soda (this one may cost a bit).
"I realize people’s interests may be different these days, but you get the gist. And talking — talking is free.”
7. “Leave him wanting more.”
“You need to leave some mystery. If you kiss someone on the first date, which I am certainly do not advocate, you should leave him wanting more for the next time you see him.
"If you space physical affection out, it will sync up with your emotional connection nicely. You’ll see.
"Also, dress the part. Don’t reveal too much too soon. Leave him wanting more in this regard, too.
"Back in the day, I’d wear a sensible dress past my knees, at the very least. The more I’d see a fella, the higher I’d let my hem go, within reason, of course. And without letting my mother see. Hint: Get a long coat.”
8. “Don't kiss and tell.”
“This should go without saying, I'm not sure you need to write this one down. But why would you do such a thing?
"What's private should be left private. If you respect your privacy — and you must — you should respect your suitor’s also. Especially with computers these days. They’re dangerous.”
9. “Don’t be afraid to end the date early.”
“We’re all busy. If it’s not a love connection, or even a 'like' connection, say you have to go home to set your hair or help your mother with the dishes. Okay, maybe not those.
"But, I’m sure there are other examples more attune to the times. (Maybe a girlfriend can call you or, as my great-granddaughter tells me, you can set an alarm on your phone. There are ‘apps,’ too, she says. Not sure what that means.)”
10. “Always say, 'thank you.'”
“Men like to be appreciated. And, if your parents raised you right, this should be an easy one.”
11. “Let him plan the next date. And the next.”
“If you do all the planning, what's the man to do? Let a man be a man. I hope no one throws a tomato at me for saying that.
"Yes, times have changed since my day and women speak up now, but part of being courted is seeing the time and attention men take in planning a date. So, let them. It speaks volumes of their character.
"Does he take you to a five-star restaurant? Dancing? To church? Pick you up? Wear a tie? Bring you flowers? Meet your parents? Okay, perhaps the meeting your parents is outdated. I understand that that doesn't happen as quickly as it used to.
"But, give the man something to do: plan. You’re his date, not his social coordinator. (Trust me, in time, you will be. Ha! In the meantime, enjoy his efforts.)”
12. “Leave it to fate.”
“I always say, ‘Que sera, sera’ (‘Whatever will be, will be’). Meaning, after letting him be a gentleman by planning your excursions and not kissing and telling your girlfriends and the people on your block, fate and timing will play the final parts.
"I had a fiancé, Ray — he was the love of my life, a true gentleman. He stood up when I'd excuse myself from the dinner table to go use the ladies' room, things like that.
We met as teenagers, then lost touch. But he found me through his parents, who contacted my parents. (Again, ladies, no cell phones back then, but he was determined and found a way!)
"Ray then went missing in the war and, after a long while, they stopped searching for him. They never did find his body.
"I had to move on with my life, and I met some fine young men at the law firm where I worked. But, the one who wooed me the most was Joe.
I took a second job teaching Polish in night school and he was one of those know-it-all students. I wasn't impressed. Plus, he was divorced, a big no-no in those days.
"One day, he asked me to have a cup of coffee after class. Then, he started riding the bus home with me, to make sure I got home okay.
Bus rides turned into him taking me to the Aragon Ballroom, which was my favorite place to dance. He was much different outside of class. Suddenly, I realized I'd met a new gentleman and ended up with a new fiancé: your grandpa.
"So, I'd tell your friends to be judicious about whom they spend their time with, and to listen to me, of course. I'm older than them. And wiser.” (She winked after saying this last line.)