From the collection of the
San Francisco, California
How to Picf( a Mate
PICK A MATE
A GUIDEBOOK TO
LOVE, SEX AND MARRIAGE
CLIFFORD R. ADAMS
Associate Professor of Psychology and Director
of the Marriage Counseling Service, Pennsyl-
vania State College. Member of the American
Association of Marriage Counselors. Director
of the Woman's Home Companion Marriage
VANCE O. PACKARD
Staff Writer, The American Magazine
BLUE RIBBON BOOKS
Garden City, New
BLUE RIBBON BOOKS Reprint Edition 1947, by special
arrangement with E. p. BUTTON & co., INC.
Copyright, 1946, by E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.
AH rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.
NO PART of this book may be reproduced
in any form without permission in writing
from the publisher, except by a reviewer
who wishes to quote brief passages in con
nection with a review written for inclusion in
magazine or newspaper or radio broadcast.
OUR TWO DAUGHTERS
OUR TWO SONS
Who Have Yet to Pic\ Their Mates
LIST OF TESTS 9
I. WHY MARRY, ANYHOW? 15
II. YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING A MATE YOU'LL LIKE 23
III. ARE You READY FOR MARRIED LOVE? 38
IV. Is IT LOVE OR INFATUATION? 47
V. GROWING UP SEXUALLY 55
VI. SEX ADVENTURING 63
VII. Do You FRIGHTEN POSSIBLE MATES AWAY? 74
VIII. ATTRACTING THE ONE You WANT 83
IX. Is THE ONE You WANT THE ONE You NEED? 91
X. CRUCIAL TRAITS FOR A HAPPY MARRIAGE 98
XL TEST YOUR MATE AND YOURSELF 107
XII. Now, SEE How You MATCH AS A COUPLE! 124
XIII. BEWARE OF MIXED MARRIAGES 139
XIV. NINE DANGEROUS CHARACTERS 146
XV. PEOPLE WHO SHOULD NOT MARRY AT ALL 156
XVI. WILL A JOB UNDERMINE YOUR MARRIAGE? 165
XVII. THE VETERAN AS A MATE 174
XVIII. So You AGREE TO MARRY: WHAT NEXT? 183
XIX. GETTING READY FOR MARRIED INTIMACY 189
XX. GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START 195
AFTER THOUGHTS 204
APPENDIX A: SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 206
APPENDIX B: MARRIAGE COUNSELING AGENCIES 211
List of Tests
II. 1. What Is Your Expectancy of Marriage? 35
III. 2. Are You Old Enough to Marry? 44
III. 3. Are You Grown Up Emotionally? 44
IV. 4 Are You Really in Love? 52
VI. 5. Are You Warm or Cool by Nature? 72
VII. 6. Do You Have a Negative or Positive Personality? 81
VIII. 7. What Traits to Loo\ for in Mates (chec\ list) 87
X. 8. Ten Basic Background Questions 100
XL 9. Sociability 107
XI. 10. Conformity 108
XI. 11. Tranquillity 109
XI. 12. Dependability 110
XL 13. Stability 111
XL 14. Standards and Ideals 112
XL 15. Steadiness 113
XL Inflexibility 114
XL 17. Seriousness 114
XL 18. Family Background 115
XL 19. Prediction of Individual Marital Happiness
XII. 20. Do You Match? 127
XII. 21. Are You Well Mated? 136
XIV. 22. Are You Too Jealous? 154
XV. 'B. Is the Mate a Neurotic? 163
Appendix A. Boo^s You May Wish to Read 206
Appendix B. Marriage Counseling Agencies 211
As FAR AS we know this is the first time anyone has written a book
attempting to put mate selection on a sensible basis, despite the fact
that sooner or later almost everybody selects one.
A good many people resent the idea of an outsider telling them
how they should pick a mate. They think it smacks of meddling.
Marriage is something sacred and personal. It should not be done
according to rules. We heartily sympathize.
Unfortunately, however, marriages are not made in Heaven.
Usually people marry by hunch or impulse ... or because their
parents think it is a good match ... or because they get themselves
so deeply involved romantically that marrying seems the only proper
thing to do.
Too frequently such methods merely mess up a couple of people's
lives. More than a third of all the millions of marriages undertaken
in the last ten years are in trouble. Many are already dissolved.
Many more soon will be.
A great deal of research and counseling has now been done in
the field of marriage, and the findings validated. At Penn State, for
example, hundreds of couples who were tested before marriage at
the Marriage Counseling Service are checked periodically after mar-
riage to find how they are making out. Of all the marriages which
the service predicted would be successful, not one has yet ended in
divorce or separation. Most of the people who went ahead despite
the clinic's cautions are already in serious trouble or have been
As a result of many such investigations, reliable information is
available on the kinds of people who make the best mates, and on
the causes of marriage success and failure.
In this book we have tried to include those findings which should
be most helpful and interesting to all people involved in love or
marriage but particularly to people who sooner or later will be
taking unto themselves a mate. It is not our intention to lay down a
set of rules for people to follow. But we hope that after reading this
book you will be more enlightened in your hunches than you might
be otherwise, and be a much happier and more desirable mate
How to Picl^ a Mate
Why Marry, Anyhow?
MATING is as old as Eve. In fact it is the oldest and most popular
custom ever devised by mankind. Even in the most isolated tribes
that explorers have uncovered on this globe adult males pair up
with females to live together as man and wife.
In many areas of the world, it is true, marriages are still arranged
by the elders, often at a neat financial profit to the bride's parents.
Freedom of choice in mating is a newfangled idea. And in Mada-
gascar the groom is warned at the wedding that he can beat the
bride all he pleases, but if he breaks any bones or gouges any eyes
she has a perfect right to go home to mother. Yet even there mating
Though marriage is the most universal institution known to man
increasing numbers of Americans are shunning it by divorce or
otherwise. About ten per cent of our marriageable men have become
unbudgeable bachelors. The number of women who are choosing
careers to marriage is soaring. Moreover there are 1,500,000 men
and women in America who tried marriage and are now living
apart in divorce. Many others were divorced, then remarried.
Thus "Why marry, anyhow?" is today a fair question. So let's
face right at the start the main reasons why people do not marry,
or stay married.
Many people do not marry because they don't relish the idea of
giving up their freedom, their independence. Some men do not like
the idea of being "saddled" with family responsibilities and being
"tied down" to one woman. Likewise, some women have become
so accustomed to living alone and are so reluctant to give up
How to Pic\ a Mate
careers that they hesitate to give up their independence, until it is
Many other girls and men do not marry because they are too par-
ticular. Often they have a "phantasy ideal" of the mate they want
and can't find such an interested party in real life. Girls for example
often sigh that they want a man "tall, dark and handsome and
graying at the temples." Without realizing it at least a quarter of
all girls yearn for a man who looks like their own father. And a
quarter of the men pick someone who looks vaguely like their own
There are still other people who don't marry because they lack a
decent opportunity. Girls who choose nursing as a career, for ex-
ample, cut their marriage prospects at least fifty per cent. It is much
the same for librarians and social workers. In fact a girl can reduce
her chances of marriage merely by going to a girls' college.
Then there is a large group who do not marry because they have
been disappointed in love perhaps an early love affair ended in
disappointment or grief. It produced a psychological scar that pre-
vented the person from achieving happiness through marriage with
anyone else. The death of Ann Rutledge shook Abraham Lincoln
so profoundly that though he finally married years later, for appear-
ances' sake, he was a miserable husband. A boy who imagines him-
self passionately in love and then is jilted by a girl who doesn't
even let him down gently may lose faith and crawl into a psycho-
logical shell in his relations with other women.
One college girl became enamored, during her sophomore year,
of a prominent man-about-campus. She came from a fine Philadel-
phia family and was an attractive, sincere girl. But she was very
naive. This man began rushing her. He took her to parties at his
fraternity, took her for several moonlight rides in his roadster, and
told her she was the girl he had always dreamed of. Within three
weeks she had lost her virginity. In a few more weeks he had lost
interest and was of? to make new conquests, and she came to the
sickening realization that he had merely been exploiting her love
for physical pleasure. Disillusioned, she had to change colleges to
keep from facing her friends. She did not tell this story to the coun-
Why Marry, Anyhow?
selors at the Penn State Marriage Counseling Service ("Compati-
bility Clinic") until two years later. During those two years she
had been so crushed and full of bitterness that she had not let an-
other man touch or even kiss her.
Occasionally men and women do not marry because they have
family responsibilities perhaps a widowed mother or younger or-
phaned brothers and sisters which make them feel they can't
afford, or have no right, to take on a mate.
Still others have physical handicaps. There are some handicaps,
of course, that are severe enough to be a real handicap, like the loss
of both arms, but more often the handicaps are not serious in them-
selves. They are serious because the possessor magnifies them in his
mind and begins feeling inadequate and inferior. The same applies
to a person who thinks he is ugly. Irregular facial features in them-
selves are never a serious handicap if their possessor has self-confi-
dence and a pleasant personality.
The main reason why people do not marry, however, is that they
have an unhealthy attitude which makes it virtually impossible for
them to adjust themselves happily to thoughts of marriage. They
are full of fears about the obligations that marriage may bring.
Some are too selfish or too egocentric to be able to compromise;
and m marriage as in any partnership the partners must be able to
sacrifice their private desires for the common cause. Marriage is no
place for prima donnas.
Other poorly adjusted persons are incapable of accepting the many
responsibilities that go with marriage. Perhaps their mother or
father tied them down so closely as a child that they never had a
chance to develop their own feeling of self-sufficiency and inde-
pendence. There are parents who cannot turn their children loose.
They object to dating until the youngsters have become so old that
learning to get along with the other sex is difficult.
Such children have a fixation for the parents and cannot see
another person entering the picture as a possible substitute or re-
placement. This is called the Oedipus complex and it is no bogey
dreamed up by psychologists. A boy may not marry because he is
still jealously in "love" with his own mother. A girl may not marry
How to PicJ^ a Mate
because she is in "love" with her father. This kind of fixation is
made more acute when the parent is selfish or lonely and builds a
network around the child which makes escape impossible.
There are some people who are suspicious or jealous by nature.
Their emotional instability usually frightens away prospective mates.
Many other people, particularly girls, have an unhealthy attitude
toward marriage because they are frightened by the physical inti-
macies that go with marriage. A 29-year-old wife who had been
married four years confessed recently that she dreaded the thought
of physical intimacy with her husband. She had moved to another
room and was in a rebellious mood. This wife unconsciously re-
vealed a clue to her coldness when she related remarks her mother
had made to her during girlhood. The mother had talked of her
own agonies during the girl's birth and had told how the process
had injured her internally. The mother had talked of physical inti-
macy as one of the burdens a wife has to bear. One night, when the
girl had been thus conditioned, a date stopped his car on a side
road and tried to caress her. She was terrified. Now, twelve years
later and formally married, she was still on guard.
The war gave many young people an unhealthy attitude toward
marriage. A desire for a "last fling" impelled many of them to
promiscuous behavior that has left them with psychological scars.
Some men saw so many "loose" women near their stations and
embarkation ports (and frequently had affairs themselves with such
women) that their attitude toward all women was cheapened. Other
young people both male and female were separated so long from
contact with the opposite sex that they developed or feared they
had developed unnatural feelings toward members of the same
sex; or thought they lost the knack of making themselves seem
attractive to girls or men, whichever the opposite may be.
A good many veterans saw so much of war and its destruction
that they became cynical of human life and pessimistic about the
future. This put them in an extremely poor mood to think of mating.
Yet to millions of other veterans war made marriage seem terribly
attractive. After leading a shifting existence where nothing seemed
real or permanent, the lasting, unchanging things in life appeared
Why Marry, Anyhow?
more significant than ever before. Marriage, ideally, is one of the
most permanent things in life. It gives a person a chance to sink
This brings us to the other side of the picture: why people do
marry. There are thirty million married couples in America today,
and they didn't get married just because it is the customary thing
Marriage must have something to offer. If you doubt it consider
Married people normally live longer than single people. According
to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company report of 1937, twice as
many single men from thirty to forty-five die as married men in the
same age bracket. For women between thirty and sixty-five the married
women have a ten per cent advantage over the single women. Twice as
many widowers die as do men who remain married.
Fewer married people go to jail than single people.
Fewer go crazy.
Fewer commit suicide.
These facts would certainly indicate that married people are hap-
pier, better adjusted persons than unmarried persons, despite all
the tales about henpecked husbands and browbeaten wives.
Then there are some very practical, hard-boiled reasons why it
pays to marry.
For one thing it is cheaper for two people to live together than to
live separately. It costs only two-thirds as much.
By marrying, a man becomes a better employment risk. Married
men usually are regarded as more steady, more trustworthy em-
ployees than single men. This is logical. Marriage exerts a stabilizing
influence on most men. An employer can assume that since a mar-
ried man has taken on the responsibilities of a family he is a better
risk than a man who has shown no ability to assume responsibilities.
Another point is that the married man is less apt to leave a good job
than a single man.
Furthermore a married person is regarded more favorably socially
than a bachelor or spinster. This is not just a "ganging up" of
How to Picf( a Mate
spouses against anyone not similarly coupled, though that may be
a factor. It's a fact that there is a greater feeling of belongingness
to the community for the married person than for the bachelor or
spinster. A married man is better able to entertain acquaintances
in his own home. And right or wrong most people feel there is
something a bit unnatural about an adult remaining unmarried.
Psychiatrists agree that except in exceptional cases women who live
alone will become neurotic and frustrated. Living alone is an ab-
normal state for a woman. (She overcomes this hazard only by
accepting her fate realistically and setting out intelligently to find
enrichment and satisfaction in life.)
Married people are less lonely than single people because they
have someone with whom to share life's dull as well as exciting
moments and to share their problems and hopes and ambitions.
Also married couples who raise families frequently have an insur-
ance against old age the knowledge that in their growing children
there will be someone to take care of them if necessary.
Life is also more comfortable if you are married than if single,
at least for a man. It provides him with home cooking in his own
home and someone to keep his socks in order.
A basic argument for marriage is that it offers a logical division
of labor. Imagine how much more complicated and inconvenient
life would be if men had to do their own cooking and sewing, and
women all women had to compete with men for a livelihood!
Finally marriage offers a legalized way to achieve sexual satis-
faction. Men and women can receive relief from their bodily tensions
without the terrible feelings of guilt, anxiety and remorse that often
accompany unmarried love. That's something. Modern psychology
recognizes that sexual satisfaction is more than a physiological
process of reproducing one's kind. It is a psychologically satisfying
activity and releases many nervous tensions as well as tensions
brought about by hormonal or glandular needs.
Those then are the obvious, practical reasons why marriage is so
universally popular. But beypnd those are some important but less
understood cravings which marriage satisfies.
Why Marry, Anyhow?
Beyond the desire for sex satisfaction, for example, is the yearning of
both men and women to share the love and affection of somebody of the
opposite sex, someone who takes a genuine interest in them. This some-
times is called a need for sexually colored companionship. This is why
married people don't feel the need to run around to shows and parties
the way single people do. They have their own companionship within
the family. Mark Twain, in his amusing "Extracts from Adam's Diary"
showed the bond created by such companionship when he quoted Adam
"At first I thought Eve talked too much but . . . after all these years
I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning. It is better to live
outside the Garden with her than inside it without her. . . . Whereso-
ever she is, there is Eden."
A desire for mastery on the part of most men and a desire to be led
on the part of most women is another psychological motive that is satis-
fied by marriage. It is the thrill of mastery that causes a youth to careen
dangerously down the highway at eighty miles an hour or to ride a horse
at a break-neck gallop.
There is a desire for pride that is satisfied by saying "my husband,"
or "my wife," or "my oldest kid."
There is a desire for security, a need both real and psychological,
that afflicts all of us. We all like to know that there is someone who will
look after us when we are sick, someone to comfort us when we are
grieved, someone to help us when we are weary. Women particularly
feel this need for security. In fact some observers who work a great deal
in testing the reactions of women to the problems of life say that in
women this yearning for security overshadows everything else. Women
feel the need for security so much more keenly because, if nothing else,
they are the "weaker" sex. They are more dependent on men for their
Our returning veterans feel an intense need for another kind of
security which marriage can give. After years of uncertainty, shift-
ing, and tearing down of life and property they desperately want to
get a hold on something permanent, and to many of them marriage
looks like the very best way to do it.
For much the same reasons veterans want to raise families. After so
much destruction they want to build, they want to create life, life bear-
How to Pic\ a Mate
ing their own likeness, life that will continue after they are gone.
Watching and guiding one's own children while they grow up is one of
the greatest pleasures of rnarriage. A couple who deliberately abstains
from having children is a selfish couple. Surveys show they mostly do it
out of selfishness, the desire of the wife for a career or "dislike for chil-
dren." These reasons are those we would expect from maladjusted people.
Certainly by voluntarily remaining childless they miss one of the greatest
chances to achieve a happy marriage.
By achieving a happy marriage and having children many people
make up for the frustrations and disappointments they have received
from life, their dissatisfaction with their job and their own childhood.
Children bring them compensation for their own failures.
Finally, marriage enables two people to work together in setting up
common goals and by dreaming, planning, struggling to achieve those
goals. Perhaps the goal is to build a home or take a vacation trip to
South America together or to put a son -through college. The specific
goals are not important. The enrichment comes from the two people's
merging their hopes and efforts toward one mutually desired goal.
Getting married is one of the biggest steps a person takes in life. In
fact, for most people life boils down to coping with three big problems:
Learning to get along with people.
Choosing a career and succeeding in it.
Picking a mate and living happily thereafter.
The three are interdependent. Marriage counselors have noticed
the significant fact that the individual who makes friends readily,
who likes his work and is successful in it, is also the person who
tends to choose an excellent mate for himself and work out with
that mate a happy marriage.
Your Chances of Getting a Mate You'll Like
FIRST, you might ask, what are your chances of getting a mate of
any kind? If you are a man, and are interested, you can be almost
one hundred per cent certain you will marry. More than ten per
cent of the eligible men today won't marry, but that will largely be
due to the fact that they prefer to remain bachelors.
If you are a girl the chances that you will marry are not quite as
good. At the start of the war about thirteen per cent of the girls
were failing to marry. The prospect now is that for several years
after the war about fourteen or fifteen per cent will fail. It will be a
good market for men.
Girls in some age brackets will be hit harder than others, and we
sympathize with the girls past twenty-five who feel they were passing
the peak of the eligibility curve for marriage while many of the
best male prospects were still away in the armed forces. These girls
have cause for concern. The surplus of grown women over men
which is something new in our population has been increased by
war casualties. And the number of men who prefer bachelorhood
is apt to increase from ten per cent at present to perhaps fifteen per
cent because the older a single man becomes the less he thinks about
marriage. This war has created a great many "old" single men.
It is estimated that between two million and five million of the
marriageable women in America today will never marry. Sociolo-
gists are already worrying about this "lost generation" of our women
between twenty and thirty-five, with those in their late twenties
presumably hit the hardest.
You may ask when a girl reaches the peak of her eligibility for
How to Pic\ a Mate
marriage. In normal years the peak is between nineteen and twenty-
one, and the curve declines markedly after the twenty-fifth birthday.
Here are the chances for men and women to marry by certain ages :
CHANCES OF WHITE MALES AND WHITE FEMALES BEING
MARRIED BY VARIOUS AGES (1940 CENSUS)
CHANCES OF CHANCES OF CHANCES OF MARRYING AT SOME
BEING MARRIED BEING MARRIED PARTICULAR YEAR OF AGE
1 in 1000
3 in 1000 1 in 1000
3 in 1000