A hilarious and horrifying article from McCall’s magazine, “129 Ways to Get a Husband,” has gone viral. When it was written in 1958, there were 16 million unmarried women in the U.S. and I doubt that many of them wondered whether a husband was what they really wanted. Just about everyone got married back then.
It is different now. Today, in 2018, there are more than 61 million women, 18 and older, who are not married. That’s close to the number who are married. Husbands (and wives) are optional. Some people realize that they are “single at heart” – they live their best, most meaningful and fulfilling lives, by living single.
So, to the husband-hunters from 1958, meet the happily single women of 2018. Listed here are the original 129 ways to get a husband. In italics, I’ve written the rules for the modern, badass single woman. (An even better version would also tell men what to do.) I have not rewritten every rule, because once you’ve read some of my rewrites, you will be able to generate most of the others on your own. You will probably have some great additions – please share them in the comments section.
WHERE TO FIND HIM
1. Get a dog and walk it.
If you don’t want a dog, don’t get a dog. If you want a dog and don’t want to walk it, get a dog walker.
2. Have your car break down at strategic places.
Take care of your car so it never breaks down.
3. Attend night school – take courses men like.
Attend night school only if you want to. Take the courses you like.
4. Join a hiking club.
Join a hiking club if you like hiking in clubs. But hiking solo can be awesome – maybe try that. Or skip it all if you hate hiking.
5. Look in the census reports for places with the most single men. Nevada has 125 males for every 100 females.
Look for places that offer the life that you love. Maybe you already found such a place. Congratulations! Now stay there.
6. Read the obituaries to find eligible widowers.
7. Take up golf and go to different golf courses.
8. Take several short vacations at different places rather than one long one at one place.
9. Sit on a park bench and feed the pigeons.
10. Take a bicycle trip through Europe.
11. Get a job in a medical, dental or law school.
Become a doctor, dentist, or lawyer. You are a badass, so you don’t need to marry one.
12. Become a nurse or airline stewardess – they have very high marriage rates.
Become a person who thinks for herself. They have very high rates of living the life that works for them, rather than the life everyone tells them they should want.
13. Ask your friends’ husbands who the eligible men are in their offices.
14. Be nice to everybody – they may have an eligible brother or son.
Be nice to everybody.
15. Get a government job overseas.
16. Volunteer for jury duty.
17. Be friendly to ugly men – handsome is as handsome does.
Be friendly to people.
18. Tell your friends that you are interested in getting married. Don’t keep it a secret.
Tell your friends you have no interest whatsoever in getting married! Don’t keep it a secret. Tell your mother. Tell all your other relatives. Tell all the random people you meet on the street. Declare it on social media.
19. Get lost at football games.
20. Don’t take a job in a company run largely by women.
Run a company.
21. Get a job demonstrating fishing tackle in a sporting goods store.
22. On a plane, train or bus don’t sit next to a woman – sit next to a man.
Spread out all your stuff on the seat next to you and maybe you will get to have the whole row to yourself!
23. Go to all reunions of your high school or college class. There may be widowers there.
24. Don’t be afraid to associate with more attractive girls; they may have some leftovers.
Don’t be afraid to associate with foodies; they may have some leftovers.
25. Go back to your hometown for a visit – the wild kid next door may have become a very eligible bachelor while you were away.
Go back to your hometown for a visit. Chances are, that annoying kid next door won’t be there anymore.
26. Don’t room with a girl who is a sad sack and let her pull you down to her level.
Don’t room with anyone. It is so awesome having your own place.
27. Get a part-time job in a convention bureau.
28. Change apartments from time to time.
29. When traveling, stay at small hotels where it is easier to meet strangers.
30. Learn to paint. Set up easel outside engineering school.
If you like to paint, set up your easel where no one will bother you.
HOW TO LET HIM KNOW YOU’RE THERE
31. Stumble when you walk into a room that he’s in.
32. Forget discretion every once in a while and call him up.
33. Carry a hatbox.
Look up “hatbox.”
34. Wear a Band-Aid. People always ask what happened.
35. Make a lot of money.
36. Learn several funny stories and learn to tell them well – but make sure you don’t tell them to him more than once.
37. Walk up to him and tell him you need some advice.
38. Dropping the handkerchief still works.
Drop your handkerchief and walk away. Handkerchiefs are gross. Use tissues.
39. Have your father buy some theater tickets that have to be got rid of.
Go to the theater with your dad. Or buy your own tickets and go with your friends – or on your own.
40. Stand in a corner and cry softly. Chances are good that he’ll come over to find out what’s wrong.
Set up a “Go fund me” page for people who stand in corners crying softly in hopes of landing a man. They need help!
41. Don’t let him fish for your name the next time you meet. None of this “guess who” stuff.
42. If you’re at a resort, have the bell-boy page you.
43. Buy a convertible. Men like to ride in them.
44. Learn how to bake tasty apple pies. Bring one in to the office and let the eligible bachelors taste it.
Learn how to bake tasty apple pies. Eat them.
45. Laugh at his jokes.
Laugh at people who laugh at men’s (or women’s) jokes in hopes of finding a spouse that way.
46. If there’s a wallflower among the men you know, why not cultivate him? For all you know, he may be a diamond in the rough.
47. “Accidentally” have your purse fly open, scattering its contents all over the street.
Position yourself near people who let their purses fly open in hopes of attracting a man. Grab all the good stuff and run!
HOW TO LOOK GOOD TO HIM
48. Men like to think they’re the authorities on perfume. Ask his advice on what kind you should wear.
If a man is smelling you to demonstrate his authority, call the cops!
49. Get better-looking glasses – men still make passes at girls who wear glasses – or try contact lenses.
50. Practice your drinking with your women friends first.
51. If you dye your hair, pick a shade and stick to it.
52. Wear high heels most of the time – they’re sexier!
Wear shoes with no heels – they are way more comfortable! Or don’t wear any shoes at all.
53. Unless he happens to be shorter than you are!
54. Tell him he’s handsome.
Talk to someone who is less needy and insecure.
55. Take good care of your health. Men don’t like girls who are ill.
56. If you look good in sweaters, wear one on every third date.
57. Dress differently from the other girls in the office.
Be the woman who runs the office. Wear whatever you want.
58. Get a sunburn.
Get a clue!
59. Watch your vocabulary.
60. Go on a diet if you need to.
61. When you are with him, order your steak rare.
Order you steak any way you want it, any time you want it. Or don’t order steak if you don’t want steak. But don’t order kale or quinoa, either. They are overrated, and it is time for them to be just plain over.
62. Don’t tell him about your allergies.
63. European women use their eyes to good advantage. Practice in front of a mirror.
64. Buy a full-length mirror and take a good look before you go to greet him.
65. Change the shade of your stockings and be sure to keep the seams straight!
Skip the stockings. Even without the seams, who wants to encase their legs in nylon?
66. Get that fresh-scrubbed look by scrubbing!
67. If he has bought you any trinket or accessory, wear it.
68. Use the ashtray; don’t crush out cigarettes in coffee cups!
69. Polish up on making introductions; learn to do them gracefully.
70. Don’t be too fussy.
71. Stick to your moral standards.
72. Don’t whine – girls who whine stay on the vine!
Women who have their own vines are mighty fine!
HOW TO LAND HIM
73. Show him you can have fun on a cheap date – but don’t overdo it!
74. Don’t let your parents treat him like a potential husband.
75. Ask your parents to disappear when you’re entertaining!
76. Double-date with a gay, happily married couple – let him see what it’s like!
Set him up with a married couple. Then go home.
77. Tell his friends nice things about him.
78. Send his mother a birthday card.
79. Ask his mother for her recipes.
Ask his father for his recipes.
80. Talk to his father about business and agree that taxes are too high!
81. Buy his sister’s children an occasional present.
82. On the first date tell him you aren’t thinking of getting married!
Good one! (See #18.) But skip the part about going on a date.
83. Don’t talk about how many children you want.
84. If he’s a fisherman, learn to scale and clean fish.
85. Don’t tell him everything about yourself at the start. Hold something in reserve.
86. When you’re out strolling with him, don’t insist on stopping at every shop window.
87. Don’t tell him how much your clothes cost.
88. Learn to sew and wear something you have made yourself.
Learn to crochet pants and make him wear them. He won’t bother you again!
89. Don’t gossip about him.
90. Never let him know he’s the only one, even if you have to stay home one or two nights a week!
91. Don’t be a pushover when he’s trying to make a date.
92. Very early in your dating, why not get a favorite song that you both regard as your own?
93. Find out about the girls he hasn’t married. Don’t repeat the mistakes they made.
94. Don’t discuss your former boyfriends.
95. If you are widowed or divorced, don’t constantly discuss your former husband.
96. Be flexible. If he decides to skip the dance and go rowing on the lake, go – even if you are wearing your best evening gown.
Tell him that’s fine, but he has to wear the evening gown – and the heels.
97. Hide your Phi Beta Kappa key if you own one – later on junior can play with it.
Wear your Phi Beta Kappa key around your neck. If he balks, wrap it around his.
98. Turn wolves into husband material by assuming they have honor.
99. Resist the urge to make him over – before marriage, that is!
100. Learn where to draw the line – but do it gracefully.
101. Remain innocent but not ignorant.
102. Make your home comfortable when he calls – large ashtrays, comfortable chairs.
Make your home exactly what you want it to be.
103. Learn to play poker.
104. If he’s rich, tell him you like his money – the honesty will intrigue him!
105. Never let him believe your career is more important to him than marriage.
Never let anyone think that marriage is on your list. It isn’t. (See #18.)
106. Buy him an amusing or particularly appropriate present everyone once in a while. But don’t make it too expensive.
107. Clip and mail him a funny cartoon that means something to both of you.
108. Don’t tell dirty stories.
109. Stop being a mama’s girl – don’t let him think he’ll have in-law trouble, even if you know he will!
Guess who NEVER has in-law trouble: People who stay single!
110. Point out to him that the death rate of single men is twice that of married men.
WILD IDEAS – ANYTHING GOES
111. Go to Yale.
112. Get a hunting license.
113. If your mother is fat, tell him you take after your father. If he’s fat too, tell him you’re adopted!
If your mother is fat, congratulate her on shunning the beauty police. And tell other people you are adopted even if you’re not; what a tribute it would be if someone chose you to be their child. That’s way more impressive than being chosen as a spouse.
114. Stow away on a battleship.
115. Rent a billboard and post your picture and telephone number on it.
Rent a billboard and post his picture and telephone number on it.
116. Paint your name and number on your roof and say, “Give me a buzz, pilots.”
117. Start a whispering campaign on how sought-after you are.
118. Sink at a fashionable beach at high noon!
119. Ride the airport bus back and forth from the airport.
Take an Uber to the airport. Go somewhere fabulous.
120. Bribe Ferris-wheel operator to get you stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel.
Bribe the Ferris-wheel operator to get HIM stuck on the top. Go home, make some popcorn, and watch Netflix.
121. Stand on a busy street corner with a lasso.
You know what? I think I’m going to let this one stand. But release your beast back into the herd after you catch him.
122. Carry a camera and ask strange, handsome men if they would mind snapping your picture.
123. Ask your mother to take in male borders.
124. Make and sell toupees – bald men are easy catches!
125. Advertise for male co-owner of a boat.
126. If you see a man with a flat, offer to fix it.
127. Carry a tow chain in the trunk of your automobile.
128. Let it be known in your office that you have a button box and will sew on bachelors’ loose buttons.
129. Don’t marry him if he has too many loose buttons!
Don’t marry him.