Dating in 1800s

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The Women’s Movement led to more women obtaining higher education and becoming integrated into the workforce, and more women began delaying marriage to first establish their careers.

This, combined with the increasing availability of birth control, led to a relaxation in attitudes toward premarital sex.

A woman suspected of dabbling with too many suitors was in danger of becoming publicly regarded as a “coquette,” which essentially socially branded her as a flirt, a disparaging designation in a society that so highly esteemed chastity.

A marriage built solely on the forces of emotion and mutual affection was scorned and perceived as irresponsible.

Women became less concerned with a man's status and more interested in his likelihood of survival.

Marriage also experienced a revival and was subsequently reabsorbed into youth culture: Marriage rates rose and average ages of married couples declined.

This new romantic character of courtship plainly took form in the forsaking of traditional highly formalized love letters in favor of letters with a more endearing and poetic tone.

This tradition of parental oversight was legitimized by the law, which held that guardians were permitted and expected to organize the transition of their child into a legal marriage.

The courting script was usually contained to “calling,” in which the man was invited into the woman’s parlor for conversations over tea and involved a large degree of supervision.

Reputation was also an essential form of social currency that required intimate guarding.

As the American conception of intimacy evolves, so does society’s approach to dating.

A society’s prescribed method of courtship is incredibly illuminating: As we trace the timeline of dating rituals, we can get a better sense of how Americans throughout time understood love and, by extension, the world.

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