In honor of Fourth of July, let’s take a look back at what our Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom, had to say about love and relationships. Up first: some electric advice from Benjamin Franklin.

The portrait at left may not exactly scream “player” to the contemporary mind, but make no mistake: Ben Franklin had game. He first fell in love and seduced his wife as a teenager, then skipped off to London and had a bunch of affairs (and an illegitimate son!) before settling down…ish.

Was he super faithful? No. Did he know his way around a room of women? Definitely.

Pearls of wisdom from the inventer of bifocals, the discoverer of electricity, the originator of game. Hold your feathered caps: this guy is racy.

On infidelity:
“Where there’s marriage without love there will be love without marriage.”
In other words, Ben was sort of a “free love” kind of guy, totally excusing cheating as a byproduct of an unhappy marriage.

On a man who is single:
“He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd Half of a Pair of Scissors.”

On the benefits of dating older women:
“Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good.”


“Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc’d may be attended with much Inconvenience.”

Benjamin Franklin: not warm and cuddly around children.

On sex with an older woman:
“Regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement.”

On living together before marriage:
When Franklin was a teenager, he fell in love with Deborah Reed. The two were not permitted to marry, and Reed soon became engaged with another man who eventually ran away with her dowry.

Franklin and Reed then wanted to marry, but because Reed’s first husband just disappeared, they weren’t allowed to. (Bigamy laws!) But Reed and Franklin started living together anyway, and spent the rest of their life in a common-law arrangement, though the two were never officially married.

On long-distance relationships:
The biggest issue in Franklin’s marriage to Reed was his frequent trips to London. Reed was terrified of water and wouldn’t cross the ocean; Franklin refused to stay home. As he could have probably told you, LDRs only work if both people are willing to travel in order to see each other!

On sex clubs:
Benjamin was a frequent guest at The Hellfire Club in London, where he participated in “wenching.” So this isn’t exactly dating advice, except to say, maybe if his wife had been willing to go to London, he wouldn’t have had as much free time to spend at this Hellfire Club.

For more on Ben Franklin’s exploits, check out the video below.

[Letters of Note]
[5 Dirty Secrets about Benjamin Franklin]