The Mating Grounds

From Subservience to Sexual Satisfaction: A Journey Through Relationship Advice Throughout History

Relationship Advice Through the Ages: How Culture Has Shaped Our Love Lives

We all want love. But how we find it, and how we navigate our relationships, has changed dramatically over time.

As culture has evolved, so too has our understanding of what a successful relationship looks like. From the early 1900s to now, weve seen shifts in how we approach love and dating.

Lets take a journey through time and explore how our cultural landscape has shaped the way we view relationships and love. Early 1900’s Relationship Advice: Womens Role in Love

In marriage, womans right to choose, to plan her life, to develop her own nature and to share her own best with the life of the world, are all but unrecognized.

Bertha Rembaugh, The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 5, No. 5 (Mar., 1900)

During this time period, the role of women in relationships was pretty clear: women were the caretakers of the home and children.

Women were expected to be devoted mothers and wives, and their sexual pleasure was rarely considered. Relationship advice during this period was often geared towards assisting women in their conception and maternity care.

Advice columns instructed women to care for themselves during pregnancy and childbirth, but also to not be burdensome on their husbands. Subservience was expected, and women were encouraged to place their husband’s happiness and needs ahead of their own.

1920’s Relationship Advice: Liberating Women

The modern woman, crossing town to her studio, typewriter, or office, looks infinitely more charming than did any of our grandmothers, yet she is working under conditions more brutal, more inhuman than any woman has ever endured. – Mary Van Kleeck, Industrial Conditions Among Women in New York City, New York City Department of Health, 1911

The feminist movement in the 1920s changed the game.

Women began to embrace their individuality and explore their own sexual desires. Dating was more liberating during this time, but this newfound freedom came with some challenges.

Women were often slut-shamed, and dating was viewed as a threat to family values. 1930’s Relationship Advice: Focusing on Home and Family

Cooking and homemaking as practiced in the average American home is probably responsible for more illness and suffering, more malnutrition, and less satisfaction than any other one agency in our national life.

Nellie Kedzie Jones, Modern Home Economics

In the 1930s, the focus of advice columns shifted slightly. Women were expected to be homemakers, but with an emphasis on efficiency.

Relationship advice was targeted towards making women feel better equipped to take on household responsibilities. 1940’s Relationship Advice: Feed Mens Ego

Womencontinue to concern themselves with feeding an egoistic male individual who demands attention because he is male, and who because he demands it, must be feted and flattered, and sometimes given spurious authority to justify his conceit.

Margaret Mead, Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing World, 1949

The 1940s was rife with sexism, and this was reflected in relationship advice at the time. Advice often focused on feeding mens egos and making their work seem more important than it really was.

Women were still viewed as homemakers, and the idea of women working outside the home was not yet mainstream. 1950’s Relationship Advice: Repression of Women

Husband is head of the household, wife is homemaker, mother and an important part of the husbands life, and that the sole mission of marriage is to have children and bring them up in the faith and practice of the church.

Alice Rossi, The Feminist Papers: From Adams to de Beauvoir

The 1950s were marked by repression of women. Women were expected to be content with their roles as homemakers and wives.

Relationship advice reinforced this idea, encouraging women to see their marriage as a career and their husband as their boss. 1960’s Relationship Advice: Second Wave of Feminism

The forward-looking woman today is not afraid to avow herself feminist, because she has learned to know that feminism means freedom.

Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, 1963

In the 1960s, the second wave of feminism began. Women were encouraged to be pro-women and to focus on sexual health.

Relationship advice of the time emphasized open communication and female pleasure. 1970’s Relationship Advice: Woman in Control

Once women begin to see that the negative connotations of the word feminism are only labels, its possible they will accept the term as a symbol of how they feel about themselves and their role in society.

Bella Abzug, address to the Womens National Political Caucus, Houston, Texas, November 18, 1971

By the 1970s, the feminist movement had gained even more traction. Women were encouraged to take control of their own lives, including their romantic relationships.

Relationship advice of the time reinforced this idea, emphasizing the importance of mutual consent and open communication. 1980’s Relationship Advice: The Rise of Working Women

I cant think of any pursuit more worthwhile than going for full equality between men and women.

Betty Friedan

The 1980s saw an increase in women working outside the home. Relationship advice of the time reflected this, and women were encouraged to pursue their careers while still fueling their partner’s ego.

Positive advice was given, with a focus on building relationships based on mutual respect and admiration. 2000’s Relationship Advice: Sexual Satisfaction and Consent

The most important thing in a relationship between a man and a woman is that one of them must be good at taking orders.

Linda Festa

Today, relationship advice emphasizes sexual satisfaction and consent. Society is becoming more aware of the importance of mutual respect, and sexual relationships are viewed as an important aspect of healthy partnerships.

Relationships are built on communication, honesty, and understanding.


Our understanding of relationships has shifted dramatically over time. From the early 1900s to now, our cultural landscape has shaped our understanding of love and how we find it.

Relationship advice has evolved to reflect the changing times, and today, it emphasizes mutual respect and communication. If theres one thing we can take away from the evolution of relationship advice, its that love is always changing- and it pays to be adaptable.

Stereotypes and Sexism in Relationship Advice: How Far Weve Come and How Far We Still Have to Go

Relationship advice has come a long way since the early 1900s, but there are still a lot of harmful stereotypes and sexist messages that persist. Lets explore the ways in which stereotypes and sexism have influenced relationship advice over time, and how we can continue to make progress towards a more equal and positive understanding of love.

Historical Stereotypes: Womens Domestic Duties and Mens Superiority

During the early 1900s, women were expected to be the homemakers and caretakers while men were seen as the breadwinners of the family. Relationship advice of the time often reinforced this idea, encouraging women to prioritize their husbands needs and keep a tidy household.

This message was harmful not only for women but also for men, who were expected to maintain a certain degree of superiority in their relationships. Men were encouraged to be the dominant force in their relationships, with a focus on their ego and their own happiness.

Current Stereotypes: Clumsy and Underconfident Girls and Negative Male Stereotypes

While weve come a long way in challenging historical stereotypes, there are still plenty of harmful messages present in relationship advice today. One common trope is the portrayal of women as clumsy, underconfident, and in need of being rescued by a romantic partner.

This messaging is particularly concerning as it reinforces gender roles and encourages men to take on a superior role in relationships. In addition to negative messages surrounding women, there are also stereotypes surrounding men.

All too often, men are reduced to negative stereotypes in relationship advice- portrayed as unemotional, self-centered, and emotionally distant. Progress Towards Eradication: Positive Advice and Evolution of Society and Culture

The evolution of relationship advice shows progress towards eradicating harmful stereotypes and promoting positive messages around love and relationships.

Today, we see relationship advice that promotes healthy communication, mutual respect, and a focus on individual happiness. For example, relationship advice often emphasizes the importance of open communication, particularly around sexual needs and desires.

This messaging promotes individual agency and the idea that both partners in a relationship have eqaul voices. As a society, we continue to make strides towards equality.

Women are now encouraged to pursue any career they want, and men are increasingly being encouraged to embrace their emotions and connect with their partners on a deeper level. That being said, there is still a lot of work to be done.

We need to actively challenge harmful stereotypes and promote positive messages in relationship advice and beyond. Messages that perpetuate gender roles, reinforce negative stereotypes, and encourage men’s superiority are particularly concerning and should be actively countered.


Relationship advice has come a long way since the early 1900s, but there are still harmful stereotypes and sexist messages present in our understanding of love and relationships. By continuing to challenge these messages and promote positive, equitable advice, we can create a more just and fulfilling world for all.

In conclusion, examining the evolution of relationship advice and the cultural factors that have shaped it, as well as the persistence of harmful stereotypes and sexism in this advice, highlights the need for continued progress towards equality and positive messaging. While we have made strides in promoting open communication, mutual respect, and individual agency, we must remain vigilant in challenging stereotypes and promoting inclusivity and equality.

By doing so, we can create a more just and fulfilling world for all.

Popular Posts