untitled design

The game of seduction: 7 men reveal how courtship has changed over the last 70 years

Is the male really in crisis? Do you still dream of love? But above all: how has the so-called “game of seduction” changed from the mid-twentieth century to the era of social media and dating apps?
Beyond statistics, conspiracy theories and clichés, we decided to start from a very simple question to 7 men, each representing a different decade, from 20 to 80 years. We asked them to tell or think back to what they did to get a girl at the age of twenty. The sample is very small, but it helped us understand how seduction has changed (if it really has changed) over time and to discover that in the end, at every age, all of them (or almost all) had and still have only one thing in mind. And it's not the one you automatically think about.

How has the way a 20-year-old approaches a girl changed over 70 years?
Michele, student, 20 years old

«I have always been a guy who has never forced a “not wanting” in the other person and over time I think it is important to demonstrate it. I respect times and ways, I wait patiently that the girl I like is free and agrees to have a cappuccino together. Of course I offer, perhaps even bringing her a small object to let her know that I think of her. And little by little I tell her about myself and ask her about her. I speak to her with an open heart, easing the embarrassment with irony and tenderness. Thus we both gain a space in each other's hearts. As long as it lasts, because so far the sweetness seems to have only brought tooth decay.”

A cappuccino and heart-to-heart chat: this is Michele's “tactic”.


Alessandro, Firefighter, 30 years old

«When I first approached girls, around the age of 15, I was very shy and introverted, I struggled to make the first move or to indicate an interest, until there was a response from her, at that point, I came forward immediately, but I needed reassurance about my insecurity. After the age of 17, I became familiar and aware and I no longer had inhibitory brakes: have a chat, have a drink, exchange numbers and then go out a second time, but often the meeting took place that same night, outside the club. I admit it: for my fear of not being up to par or enough, for my low self-esteem, I've been an asshole many times, even “using” women for ulterior motives. However, I have always looked for love and romance, even if today I no longer believe in it, I'm sincere, perhaps due to the many blows I received in the teeth.”

Have a chat in the disco, have a drink, exchange numbers and then go out a second time, it could have ended like this...

A chat in the disco, have a drink, exchange numbers and then go out a second time: this is how the typical date for Alessandro could have ended.

Paul Bradbury

Federico Maria, Restaurant Manager, 41 years old

«In my twenties there was inexperience, but also a great desire to conquer. I placed a lot of emphasis on my physical prowess, but perhaps it was only to make up for my chronic shyness, which I also silenced to satisfy a very heated libido. I also showed off my sweetness, combined with my simplicity: let's say that I needed physicality to break the ice, then I conquered them with my romantic component. The whole game of seduction for me it always started from the look, which was fundamental. Then I continued with an unexpected compliment, but let's remember that in those days social media didn't exist you sent your trusted friend ahead to investigate if the girl was free or interested in you. What was I looking for? The goal was a life partner, but in the meantime I knew how to have fun. I always respect, however, given and demanded, even in hit-and-run stories.”

It all started from the look then showed off sweetness and romance, this is how Federico Maria conquered a girl...

It all started from the look, then showed off sweetness and romance: this is how Federico Maria conquered a girl when he was twenty.

Hybrid Images

Massimo, worker, 56 years old

«With a little shyness, I waited for their eyes to meet, and I thought that if the first was casual, the second was curiosity, but with the third… it was done! With women, I played the fool: making a girl laugh was a great approach, I made myself nice and didn't just think about taking her to bed: that came by itself… if she made the first move. Well, I didn't have much self-esteem. If things continued, I took her out to dinner, invited her for a walk out of town, created the cassette specifically for this purpose, with the songs inside that made me think of her. What was I looking for? Love, always the same, but I often self-sabotaged because I was too focused on desiring the ideal, instead of living in the moment.”

He was being silly and made them laugh so the girls would capitulate in front of Massimo's smile.

He played the fool, made them laugh: so the girls capitulated before Massimo's smile.

Oliver Rossi

Sergio, public employee (now retired), 65 years old

«How was the approach with the girls? It was quite challenging, you had to work with all your abilities, from sympathy to imagination in courtship, but then the confidence you were able to express with the girl you had “aimed at” mattered a lot. This happened the first time, then we agreed on the next meeting, which could even be the following evening. If she showed up for the appointment… it was done, I had got the tactic right. It all happened in discos, in the seventies and eighties they were great. Sex? I've never had any problems, except with my wife: it's really true that when the “right one” arrives, you have to conquer things. It arrived suddenly and turned everything upside down: the fleeting thing no longer interested me and I had to sweat a lot! But I couldn't wait to walk her down the aisle and start a family with her. Together we succeeded.”

Every ability had to be put into play especially when the

Every ability had to be put into play, especially when the “right” one arrived: this is what the conquest meant for Sergio.

Image Source

Rodolfo, doctor, 71 years old

«At twenty I was shy, insecure, awkward. The only bonus I had was the “Culture Bonus”, in the sense that I attracted school friends simply by sharing my studies (minimum) and digressing on the main systems (and grades!). I didn't even remotely imagine I could be liked: compared to other people my age I was not very athletic, I felt insignificant, I didn't have an enchanting look. Actually in retrospect, I recognize that I was a great listener and this still wins over women today (even men, actually). So long live sharing as a weapon of seduction».

He knew how to listen to Rodolfo, that's what won over a woman yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Rodolfo knew how to listen: that's what won over a woman, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

George Marks

Bruno, tractor driver and woodcutter (now retired), 87 years old

«When I was a boy, there weren't the freedoms that there are today: we found ourselves in the square or in the dance hall and we aimed at the girl, who was usually with her friends. She was invited to dance and if he agreed, the first approach was successful. Then, in small towns like mine, we happened to see each other again a few days later and we hung up: if he agreed to walk with you, it was done. I also got naughty: with some of them we ended up going straight to the barn. I was very popular, but when I saw my wife, much younger than me, I was stunned. I waited until she was of age to marry her, but we have been together for over sixty years. What if I had fears? We didn't have time: work in the fields called and in his free time we enjoyed the simple life».

Inviting her to dance was the first move, if she agreed it was made when Bruno was twenty.

Inviting her to dance was the first move: if she agreed, it was done, when Bruno was twenty.

Bert Hardy/Getty Images

More stories by Vanity Fair that you might like are:

Alessandro Borghi, who thinks about sex every six times. Does it really mean having an obsession?

What women “don't” want from a man today

Source: Vanity Fair

You may also like

Get the latest

Stay Informed: Get the Latest Updates and Insights


Most popular