Victorian dating etiquette

Upon careful thought, however, these letters can be seen to be sober testimony to the general tenor of society in the third quarter of nineteenth century America.

Victorian era courtship rules and marriage facts

The short paragraph headed "Refusal on the grounds of dislike" is important information to a historian today for what it reveals about the life of men in That such a letter was not absurd to include in a serious work is mute testimony to the number of young men who "failed" in the world. The contents of the letter are brief:. The man who assisted in effecting a brother's ruin, is not a suitable partner for his sister; and a moment's reflection might have convinced you that your agency in the matter to which I allude, has earned for you, not the love, but the unchangeable dislike of Further evidence that young men of America were going "astray" is found in the letter entitled "Refusal on the grounds of unsteadiness of the suitor": Your conduct during the last two years has been made known to me, and, viewing you in the light of a dangerous man, I do not desire anymore intimate acquaintance.

I could not reasonably expect happiness from a union with an individual who has destroyed the mental quiet of more than one young person, by his total disregard for what is due to the weaker by the stronger sex Indeed, men of the period seem to have had such a predilection for going astray that the "courtship" section also includes a lengthy epistle entitled "Remonstrance of a young lady against the reckless life of her future husband".

The Victorian Era England facts about Queen Victoria, Society & Literature

The lady writes to her future husband that the company he is keeping of late is "fast" and that his associates are "prejudicial to his future prospects" in business and also, since possessed of greater fortunes than has he, are luring him into a life beyond his means. In all these letters we catch a glimpse of what was relatively new in America -- a young educated man with a living to earn, probably separated from his family and living on his own in a city.

Messed Up Things That Actually Happened In The Victorian Era

In nineteenth century America a young man was reared to look to his mother and sisters for moral guidance and away from these influences he was culturally unprepared to take a strong moral stand on his own. As a "victim" of the new technology, the town worker had more leisure than had even his recent ancestors. In search of ways to occupy his evenings when his pocket money was limited, he often fell in with other fellows like himself. It is curious that the same letter writing volume contains a form for a letter between young men-about-town which has the seeds for disaster on which the three foregoing letters touch: I trust you will be present on that occasion What course was left for the young man who had strayed?

Dating in the Victorian Era - Rejecting the Unsuitable Suitor

If he had acquired a taste for high living and the suitable young women were refusing his advances, perhaps he could find a wealthy widow. At least enough young men had to be trying that route in order to justify the letter manual's inclusion of "Refusal on the grounds that the suitor is much younger than herself". The text is interesting enough to be cited at length:. And typically, an event known as The Season precipitated all the upper-crust matches that would lead to these arrangements.

Families who took part in the event had one goal in mind: To find their daughter a suitor.


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No matter where they lived, the Victorian elite would send their daughters — in their mid teens and early twenties — to London for the sake of encountering a potential match. The most important element of The Season took place in the Coming Out , or the presentation of young women before the King and Queen by their mothers, aunts, or other female relative.

The Dating Traditions During the Victorian Period

Even though the actual presentation only lasted a few moments for each girl, the planning would start months, if not years, prior. Once a young woman had come out socially as a debutante, she could then attend parties and social gatherings.

The caveat, of course, was that she could not do so alone. She was always accompanied by a female chaperone — usually her mother — and had to navigate the brave new world of dating while under supervision. Men were well aware that others watched — and judged — their interactions with women in the dating realm. Women often carried these fans to avoid fainting in hot ballrooms — which, given the prevalence of corsets and tight gowns, was a more commonplace event than you might think.