How to Talk to a Woman: Advice from 1875

Pin it

gentlemenThe Art of Manliness has published an excerpt from the 1875 book “A Gentleman’s Guide to Etiquette,” and even though the advice is 138 years old, anyone who’s been on a lot of dates lately could probably tell you that the men could do well to skim through these. Just read through the following, and add  “….on a date” to the end of each bullet. As relevant today as ever!

  • It is ill-bred to put on an air of weariness during a long speech from another person, and quite as rude to look at a watch, read a letter, flirt the leaves of a book, or in any other action show that you are tired of the speaker or his subject.

Watch, letter, book, cellphone….

  • If you have traveled, although you will endeavor to improve your mind in such travel, do not be constantly speaking of your journeyings. Nothing is more tiresome than a man who commences every phrase with, “When I was in Paris,” or, “In Italy I saw…”

  • A man of real intelligence and cultivated mind is generally modest. He may feel when in everyday society, that in intellectual acquirements he is above those around him; but he will not seek to make his companions feel their inferiority, nor try to display this advantage over them.

  • It is as great an accomplishment to listen with an air of interest and attention, as it is to speak well. To be a good listener is as indispensable as to be a good talker, and it is in the character of listener that you can most readily detect the man who is accustomed to good society.

  • Avoid pedantry; it is a mark, not of intelligence, but stupidity.

  • Never notice it if others make mistakes in language. To notice by word or look such errors in those around you is excessively ill-bred.

There’s nothing sexy about correcting someone’s pronunciation on a date. (“Actually, it’s bruschetta, with a “k” sound…”)

  • Avoid boasting. To speak of your money, connections, or the luxuries at your command is in very bad taste.

  • It is extremely rude and pedantic, when engaged in general conversation, to make quotations in a foreign language.

  • A lady of sense will feel more complimented if you converse with her upon instructive, high subjects, than if you address to her only the language of compliment. In the latter case she will conclude that you consider her incapable of discussing higher subjects, and you cannot expect her to be pleased at being considered merely a silly, vain person, who must be flattered into good humor.