Victorian Courtship

Dating in the Victorian Age

victorian dating rules

They advised, gossiped, told secrets and wrote passionate letters to each other. Shall remove his hat while talking to a lady. Hoppe Artwork courtesy of Marvelicious. Women and men also faced strict rules regarding courtship. Most girls, however, married between the ages of 18 and 23, especially in the upper classes. Today, many of these rules seem arbitrary and silly:

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If she had progressed to the stage of courtship in which she walked out with a gentleman, they always walked apart. A woman was never to go anywhere alone with a gentleman without her mother's permission. Reason and Process Victorian Era Servants in homes: A gentlewoman never looked back after anyone in the street, or turned to stare at others at church, the opera, etc. You are twenty-six years of age, I am forty-five. Proper women never rode alone in a closed carriage with a man who wasn't a relative. Therefore, marriage, although her aim in life, had to be very carefully contemplated.

The Victorians have a reputation for being prim, proper and persnickety. As a member of the upper class in Victorian England during the reign of Queen Victoria , , one had to know the exhaustive rules of etiquette that went along with one's position. Today, many of these rules seem arbitrary and silly: Does it really matter the order in which dinner party guests enter the dining room?

At the time it did, because such social niceties constituted basic manners and politeness. Of course, some etiquette rules were arbitrary, but they were nonetheless functional. Every society has such rules — like whether to drive on the right or left side of the street — to establish expectations and keep things running smoothly.

In the Victorian Era, etiquette lubricated the mechanism of social exchange: Both parties disclosed their fortunes. A man had to prove his worth in keeping his wife in the level of life she was accustomed. A woman, often looking to improve her social standing, used a dowry as a lure. To protect an heiress, her family could set up an estate trust for her, which would be controlled by Chancery Court.

The woman would have access to this property if she applied, but her husband could not touch it. An unmarried woman of 21 could inherit and administer her own property. Even her father had no power over it.

Once she married, however, all possessions reverted to her husband. She couldn't even make a will for her personal property, while a husband could will his wife's property to his illegitimate children.

Therefore, marriage, although her aim in life, had to be very carefully contemplated. Because many marriages were considered a business deal, few started with love. Although as the years passed, many couples grew tolerably fond of each other, often resulting in a bond almost as deep as love.

The bank accounts have been studied, the ancestral lineages inspected, and political connections explored. If both parties passed muster, the next step toward marriage was the engagement. If it had not already been done, the man was introduced to girl's parents and her peer group. Permission for asking for the daughter's hand in marriage had to be granted by bride's father, although the gentleman could wait until he had his bride's consent before asking. A proposal was best made in person, with clear, distinct language, so the girl might not misunderstand the gentleman's intent.

If he could not bring himself to propose in person, he could do so in writing. A girl did not have to accept her first proposal. She could play coy. This was a precaution, lest the engagement be ended by either party. The mother hosted a dinner party once the engagement was announced.

A more formal evening party may have followed. Once the groom had been introduced to bride's family, the bride was then introduced to his. This could be a very trying time for a young girl, as a mother-in-law's eye was often critical. After the engagement was announced to the family, the bride wrote to the rest of her friends with the news. At the same time, her mother wrote to the elders of these families.

Engagements lasted from six months to two years depending upon ages and circumstances. The engagement was finalized with a ring. The size and stone depended upon the groom's finances. They could be in the form of a love knot, a simple band, or a band embedded with different stones whose initials spelled out a name or word of love. The couple could become a bit more intimate once they were engaged. They could stroll out alone, hold hands in public, and take unchaperoned rides. A hand around the waist, a chaste kiss, a pressing of the hand, were allowed.

They could also visit alone behind closed doors. But they had to be dutifully separated by nightfall, or overnight at country parties. Thus, if the engagement was broken, the girl suffered the consequences of a ruined reputation because of her previous behavior.

An honorable man never broke an engagement, so as not to cause the girl discomfiture. When a woman came of age between 18 and 25 years of age her rich parents threw her a grand ball where potential suitors would aim to impress her with their dance floor know-how.

A coming out ball designed to set couples up might not exactly be a low-pressure, but it did afford women a chance to assess their romantic options while getting down with her bad self. A woman received a dance card at the beginning of these dances, and gentlemen would have to sign up to dance with her. The Victorians appreciated a good walk while courting. After the dance, if a pair hit it off, they would then take a stroll together.

Walks would continue until a real date was planned. I think making the first few dates nature outings would be a great way to take the pressure off and get to know each other in an unrushed, leisurely way. To get around not being able to touch until engaged, many couples would go roller skating or ice skating so they could hold hands in public without scandal. Is it getting hot in here? These strict, modest expectations would make it even more fun to break the rules, which is something I would have totally done in the Victorian Era.

But maybe not, because Victorian Era hussies had very few options if they got pregnant.

Imsges: victorian dating rules

victorian dating rules

She could flirt with her fan, as this behavior was within the protocol of accepted behavior.

victorian dating rules

Remembers; to discuss the price of anything is never in good taste. Shall never ask a lady to dance if he has his coat removed.

victorian dating rules

Dating bidar and talking about feelings were frowned upon, so they got inventive. Why Rudeness Is So Victorian dating rules. Cake, Candles and Check: We'll take a glimpse into some of the rules that seem absurd to us today. Men and women were careful not to lead the other on unnecessarily.