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Too diffident to date

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So it turns out that if I spend 5 minutes doing research online I can find matrimonial ads from big newspapers outside of New York.  Awesome.   (Of course I've used plenty of ads from all over, but certain NYC newspapers were the easiest ones to access.  Lazy!)  So here is one:


Matrimonial - A young MAN of good morals, desires to form a Matrimonial connection with a young Lady of prepossessing appearance, amiability of disposition and pleasant address.  He is 22 years of age, good height, affectionate disposition, and in the enjoyment of an abundant income.  His extreme modesty and diffidence are alone the cause of this advertisement, and he hopes no young lady will so far trifle with his feelings as to reply to this unless it is with an intention similar to the advertiser.  Address, with real name, stating where an interview can be had.  JNO. A. BRISBANE, Baltimore Postoffice.

I can't quite make out that last line but I don't think it's important.  Maybe the date?  I've seen those before.  Anyway, not the point.  The point is, AW.  I always feel kind of motherly when it comes to men like this, whose "extreme modesty and diffidence" make them incapable of meeting women in the real world and so turn to ads instead.  I'm sure Jonathan's like the nicest person ever, but he's too shy to talk to a girl in mixed company.  I'm sure this is the reason a lot of other men used matrimonials back then (I suspect lots of people, men and women, use online dating today for the same reason). 

On the other hand, it doesn't make much sense that someone who is so modest and diffident would suggest a meeting right off.  You'd think if Jonathan has so much difficulty with social interaction he'd want to exchange letters for awhile, get to know the girl on paper, and only after he felt confident and comfortable with her (and vice versa, of course) would he want to meet in person.  I don't see men suggesting this often in matrimonials, or actually, really, ever...although I haven't researched this particular newspaper before so maybe in Baltimore they were a bit more forward.  I dunno.  So then I wonder, what gives, Jonathan?  Are you who you say you are?  Or are you putting on this demeanor of shyness to appeal to women who want to draw you out with nefarious intentions?

I don't like that idea at all.  It would totally work on me though - the part about the modesty and diffidence.  I'd want to scratch under the surface.  But I'm pretty sure I'd be safe from losing all my money to some swindler.

Sidetracked!  Well, I hope he's honest and I hope no girl did trifle with his feelings.  It'd be hard enough to be shy and then have some flirt toy with him.  Maybe he found his happily ever after.

©2010 Pam Epstein

2 comments:

codymui December 28, 2010 at 11:12 PM  

hmmmm... I don't know dear, it sounds very promotional via the words of a spin doctor and doesn't show very much substance of who the client is at hand. "He is 22 years of age, good height, affectionate disposition, and in the enjoyment of an abundant income." Okay he is of the marrying age (I assume this was maybe posted circa 19th Century?), and openly reveals attributes that society views as desireable; good height has always been associated with security and/or leadership, and "in the enjoyment of an abundant income", gosh, I love this! So what's the problem ladies?

His modesty and diffidence may not be the real problem here, maybe he's homely or maybe worse, he's bone dry of personality and that's not revealing in the missive at all? None of this tells anything about his appearance but asks that a match be "a young Lady of prepossessing appearance." All ads ends with if you're not serious don't respond so I don't think it's desperate in any way.

It just troubles me that it tells me nothing about him really, but what people may desire of his assets (not necessarily $$$) but that's just my take on this. :)

Pam December 29, 2010 at 9:29 AM  

Well, "prepossessing in appearance" would indicate that he believes he is attractive, or at least presents himself in an attractive fashion. It is interesting to see what people thought were the important attributes in terms of appealing to the opposite sex. What he says sounds trite, but it's pretty typical for ads at this time. (Though the height is a unique and I think your opinion on that is dead on.)

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