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Ways A 19th Century Woman Can Casually Date Without Ruining Her Reputation

A relationship doesn’t need a label as long as no one is caught exposing their true feelings

Kyrie Gray
Oct 27 · 3 min read

We in the modern age take the concept of Netflix and Chilling for granted. It wasn’t so long ago that it was considered scandalous for a single woman to be seen alone with a man. How did a young lady manage to hang out with a gentleman without making him think that she wanted him to declare they were a couple? Luckily, even during that time period, there were ways to flirt without drawing too much outside attention.

Tea and See

Afternoon tea with a gentleman is always watched over by a disapproving auntie on the lookout for any whiff of impropriety. Still, using only expressive eyes, a couple can have an entire conversation while seemingly talking about the weather or the House of Lords.

Compliment His Dress and Decompress

Any member of the upper class spends an exorbitant amount of time picking out custom-made garments. Therefore it is not seen as too forward to compliment a gentleman’s cravat or remark on how flattering the cut of his pants are. As a result a lady can actually breath a little and not worry about ruining her reputation by insinuating that she has noticed a man’s buttocks and are quite pleased by it.

Dance and Take a Chance

Waltz? Yes please! On the crowded dance floor, while moving too fast for observant elders to clearly see, a gentle squeeze of her partner’s arm, while he holds her a little closer than necessary, is all in good fun. As long as both parties are into it. Otherwise a sharp slap with a fan will put unwanted familiarity in its place.

Fan and Faint

Fans are well known as a tool for flirtation. But they can pass more complex codes. A woman designs a signal for her gentleman so he knows to come into her general vicinity. Then, once he is close, she acts like she was trying to catch her breath, as if her corset is too tight. Who are we fooling? They’re always too tight. She pretends to succumb to her feminine weakness and faint. Then he catches her. She feels the thrill as he held her to his chest for the brief journey to the nearest settee. It’s worth the smelling salts, I promise.

Promenade and Poke

Strolling along the socially acceptable public avenues and pathways, she’d casually stroll beneath her parasol, enjoying the lovely day. When she laughs at one of his (hopefully funny) jokes, she might playfully poke him lightly with the end of her parasol. But for goodness sake, let’s hope she refrains from using her hand. Should anyone see, she will be asked about wedding bells by dinner. There’s no need to put a label on what she and the gentleman have yet.

Carriage and Joke about Marriage

Once a woman knows a gentleman well enough she might be allowed to ride in his carriage on Saturdays. The key is to be chill and not let on that she is into him. For example she should make casual jokes about recently married couples and how terrible the two of them would be in such a union. By keeping the jokes light-hearted, the young lady succeeds in maintaining a casual courtship and doesn’t scare the gentleman off by being too clingy.


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Jane Austen’s Wastebasket

Humor inspired by the literature, history, and other non-lucrative college courses

Kyrie Gray

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Freelancer, comedian, and illustrator. Writes humor, practical advice, and about life. Check out Jane Austen’s Wastebasket for most of my funny scribbles.

Jane Austen’s Wastebasket

Humor inspired by the literature, history, and other non-lucrative college courses

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