Love – or something else – at first sight

Love – or something else – at first sight

On Valentine’s Day, it is only natural that our thoughts turn to love. Those who think they have found it use the occasion to celebrate their relationship, making Valentine’s Day the busiest day of the year for candy sales and romantic restaurant dinners. Those still looking for love often feel lonelier than ever, so that web dating sites see their numbers spike in February.

Much attention has been paid to the explosion of on-line dating and the posting of personal profiles, but Americans have been advertising for partners for more than 150 years. I have collected thousands of personal ads from the 19 th -century, and it’s worth reading what men and women said they were looking for then, and how they went about it, to see what has and has not changed.

Putting their best foot forward

Then as now, some people were surprisingly candid and specific about what they wanted in a partner – and not shy about tooting their own horn:

  • “A green youth from a country village, tired of having young ladies fall captive to his good looks, desiring to be loved for his good qualities alone, desires to correspond with an intelligent young lady not over 22, having in view an ultimate matrimonial alliance. She must be a blonde, rather below than above the medium height, well educated, and refined, domestic in her tastes and not afraid to make herself generally useful in a home which he considers himself qualified to make happy. Sincerity will be proved by enclosing carte de visite. Address Verdant Green, Stamford, Conn.” New York Herald, August 8, 1863
  • “A lady, twenty-two years of age, of fastidious taste, wishes to correspond with a gentleman of refinement with a view to matrimony; he must possess rare mental endowments, superior education, be attractive in person and manners, have good social position; also entitled by noble qualities of heart, mind and birth, to the title of gentleman. (suite…)
Par root, il y a