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Teenage Dating Etiquette in The 1960s

Teenage dating fifty years ago was much more formal than it is today. Expectations of what would or wouldn’t happen on a date were understood by all.

Teenage dating nearly fifty years ago was very different from the social practices of today. Parents were much more aware of whom their children were dating and where they were going. Curfews were set and alcohol was rare.

Teenagers met potential dates either at school, church, youth groups, dances, sport clubs, or through their friends. Because I went to a girls’ school, one of my favourite events was a Sunday afternoon youth club. Teenagers usually went to organised events with a group of the same sex from their school. A local band played and we danced the afternoon away. Youth club was an ideal opportunity to meet others in a supervised environment.

A date was arranged when a boy rang a girl on the phone during the week and asked her to go out with him, usually to the movies or a local dance. If Sunday youth club had gone well a girl would sit waiting near the phone all week, hoping the boy of her choice would call. If her parents happened to take the phone call, she would try and act disinterested, hoping the call was for her.

Most teenage dates happened on Saturday nights and were usually to the movies or a local dance. The boy was expected to call and collect the girl from her home, usually meeting the parents. This must have been quite nerve-wracking for the boy. The couple would then be given a strict curfew time the girl had to be home by. Usually this was midnight.

On Saturday girls spent all afternoon preparing for their date. The ritual involved washing and setting their hair in curlers to get the big bouffant look of the 60s. Then finger nails had to be painted and clothes put out ready. Closer to the time of the date make-up had to be applied, this usually taking a long time, as everything had to be exactly right.

There were many dating behaviours considered etiquette in those days. If he had a car, the boy had to open the door for the girl. He also had to hold open the door of any building they were entering. He was expected to pay for the movie tickets and any after movie refreshments. Because the boy had paid, it was presumed the boy had the right to hold the girl’s hand or put his arm around her during the movies.

Girls knew that as much as they liked a boy, they should not permit a kiss on the first date. It certainly wouldn’t do to let the boy know you were interested. Girls were also advised that they should not appear more intelligent or more knowledgeable than their date. It wouldn’t do to show him up.

Teenagers were lucky back then. Unlike today, there were many organised activities enabling boys and girls to meet and mix with potential dates in a safe and supportive environment. The dating boundaries and consequences of pushing those boundaries were understood by all.

The teenage dating scene has changed. In many places formal dating seems to be a thing of the past. This is a shame as it was where teenagers learned a lot about growing up.

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User Comments
  1. Karen Gross

    On February 4, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    It certainly was a different world back then.

  2. LJ Spain

    On February 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Very good. I remember when my daughter was in high school, she wanted to just run out the door when her date arrived, but I would tell her he has to come in so I can meet him. She would beg me not to do that, and I would say if he does not come in, you cannot go.

  3. PR Mace

    On February 4, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I dated in the 70’s and in my house it was still a lot like this. Church was the big place to met boys. I had many a kiss stolen at a church social.

  4. lowellhenderson

    On February 4, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Born in 65 I didn’t date till the 80’s. The world had already gone plumb to hell by then. Very good article Val.

  5. mtrguanlao

    On February 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Remiscing the past..much better than these days. Thanks for this!

  6. Shirley Shuler

    On February 4, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Great post, Val. I can only guess that so many things have changed over the years.

  7. Larry Fish

    On February 4, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Yes Val, it sure has changed a lot in fifty years, not all good changes either.

  8. Mystical Whitewolf

    On February 4, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Times have changed so much, I wonder what kids would do today if dating was like it was then?? Something tells me there would be one major protest… lol Great post, love walks down memory lane. No I was not dating then, born 1961 lol

  9. tiffi

    On February 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Wow! Compared to today’s dating ways, this seems like it was hundreds of years ago! Nowadays teens date around a lot! Great share!!!

  10. Lady Sunshine

    On February 5, 2011 at 12:41 am

    What would Ken say about this?

  11. fagina

    On February 5, 2011 at 12:44 am

    This is really cute :)

  12. Raj the Tora

    On February 5, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Well captured information Val. However, in earlier days boys were made to spend a lot on a date, while girls spend on making themselves up.

  13. Val Mills

    On February 5, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Yes Raj, that was what was expected! Boys wouldn’t date you if you didn’t look perfect.

  14. guraynsj

    On February 5, 2011 at 7:46 am

    I like this article.

  15. Cinders

    On February 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I wish we could bring this type of etiquette back to life it sounds a lot safer than today (speaking as a parent of course). Thanks for a well written and insightful article.

  16. albert1jemi

    On February 5, 2011 at 11:24 am

    nice article

  17. Starpisces

    On February 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

    hahaha, so interesting, nowadays it’s so different.

  18. Christine Ramsay

    On February 6, 2011 at 4:19 am

    You describe exactly what it was like here in this country as well. Often parents would even find a date for their daughters. My parents were very good at that but they were never successful dates. My parents always seemed to be looking for the opposite qualities to those I was looking for. A very nostalgic and well written piece.


  19. Jane Campbell

    On February 6, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I couldn’t agree more with you, Val. It’s what the adults now represent that is being passed down to the children. The role models have also changed!! Excellent article!!

  20. Brewed Coffee

    On February 7, 2011 at 12:27 am

    In this instance, I would say those were the GOOD old days. Teenagers today can be really hard to handle…too much independence and care free attitude. Parents today have bigger challenges in raising teenagers.

  21. Inna Tysoe

    On February 7, 2011 at 1:37 am

    It was a different world, wasn’t it?

  22. Sharif Ishnin

    On February 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I think I saw something like that in a 50’s movie. I’m sure rock and roll concerts had a hand in changing all that Val.^_^

  23. Michal Dorcak

    On February 10, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Interesting. Truly, it has changed (though, I were not alive back then). Today’s way seems worse to me …

  24. J M Lennox

    On February 12, 2011 at 2:03 am

    I was born in 1960 but as a teenager in the 70’s it was quiet similar, if you went to an all girls boarding school like myself. We had a ”brother” school who we socialised with (dances, sporting activities etc). As you can imagine, we were well supervised, although there were always those that rebelled (after all, it was the 70’s by then). An interesting walk down memory lane.

  25. yes me

    On February 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    liked this one lots Val cheers

  26. JaiRudolf

    On August 16, 2011 at 3:15 am


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