Today, making friends with the opposite gender has become much easier because now there are social networks and those that are initially aimed at finding a partner.
It may be erroneous to think that dates in the past, before the spread of smartphones and social networks, were about the same in the 20th and 19th centuries. However, this is far from the case because what dating was a couple of centuries ago is strikingly different from the realities of even the beginning of the 20th century. Moreover, this was much easier for the peasants, while dates turned into something strange and even ridiculous for the nobles. We will tell you how dating “noble” people took place in the past, or rather, why they were terrible.
1. People had to communicate with secret codes
If the Germans had used women’s hints to encrypt orders instead of Enigma during World War II, their code would never have been cracked. But today’s hints of girls on dates do not compare in the degree of secrecy with what they did in the past.
So, for example, in the 17th century in France, the so-called flies appeared – a cosmetic product in the form of a mole that was glued to a certain area of the body. By the 18th century, this practice had spread throughout Europe and existed even into the 19th century.
It was not just a decoration but something like a tool for flirting. So, for example, if a woman wanted to show mischief, she would stick a fly near the corner of her mouth. The fly could identify flirting on the cheek, and the lady in love stuck an artificial mole near her eye. And this is only a small part of the codes that the ladies of that time used. The difficulty was that often the ladies glued several flies, and it was difficult to understand whether she was trying to tease the gentleman or showing him sincere feelings.
Another example of secret codes where couples felt like crypto analysts were notes and letters that could be exchanged on a date without even saying a word. So, for example, in the Victorian era of the 19th century, Great Britain began to dictate fashion. And there, British ladies and gentlemen communicated with each other using the so-called “language of flowers.” They drew a certain flower in their message, and instead of words, he conveyed feelings. So, for example, the Chinese aster meant that a person shares the feelings of his interlocutor, and the peach tree said that he appreciates the qualities of another person and his charm.
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2. Couples were required to sit far apart and use special devices to talk
When films show some God-fearing Great Britain of the 18th century and show how a guy and a girl of noble blood sit on the same bench, almost pressing their hips to each other, know that this is fiction. Then Puritan customs reigned, and no one would leave the young alone, even more so close to each other. What if they touch with their hands, and then the devil will immediately take them to his wicked kingdom.
Therefore, dates, at least the first few, most often took place under the strict supervision of parents or other older people, even if the lovers were over 30. They sat at a distance from each other, at least a couple of meters apart. In some countries, for example, in the USA of the 18th century, strong puritanical moods reigned, and the guy and the girl could communicate through a special tube several meters long to keep the bodies at a distance from each other fearing any manifestation of lust.
3. There were strict rules that had to be strictly followed
This is now, already an hour after the first date, the couple can become so liberated that they can move on to hugs or kisses. But a couple of centuries ago, this was unthinkable even after a few meetings.
As we said above, dating between a guy and a girl did not happen in private. An unmarried woman under 30 could not be in the presence of a man without an escort, usually a maid. In addition, any appearance of a lady in the company of a gentleman who was not her fiancé or husband immediately attracted the eyes of others, and the very next day, she could be labeled a “slutty girl.” But do not think that the guys were freer than the girls because they were often also accompanied by companions so that they would not go for some terrible, irreparable audacity, for example, a kiss on the cheek on a first date.
In addition, the girl could not speak to the man until they were introduced. As we mentioned above, it was forbidden to touch each other, except for dancing or when the lady needed help, for example, to overcome an obstacle on the road. In all other cases, according to the degree of indignation, even touching a hand with a hand looked to others as if in our time a guy slipped his hand under a girl’s jacket and grabbed her chest.
Speaking of dancing. In many countries that have adopted Western European values, dancing with the same person more than twice in one evening could be considered at least bad manners or, worse, an official engagement announcement, even if the guy and girl only know each other by their first names.
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4. Choosing a girl for a date was like an auction
Dates are described in the classics as light and romantic, but more often than not, they were neither. Often, dates were planned to the smallest detail, and the choice was left only to the man. Speaking of noble families, for men, choosing who to go on a date with, if any, was like scrolling through candidates on Tinder. He chose the most suitable one, their parents agreed among themselves, after which date was set.
As you can understand, there was no talk of any feelings, except perhaps the desire to look at the beauty closer. In fact, the men of those times chose a woman the same way you buy groceries in a store.
Of course, for the girl, this choice was uncontested. Only in rare cases and in very noble families could a lady refuse to meet a gentleman.
5. To prepare for a date, couples had to put on dangerous make-up
No, we were not mistaken; both girls and boys wore make-up; this was the norm for the 17-18 centuries in a noble environment. And the make-up that was applied in a thick layer specifically for dates had nothing to do with what girls use today.
Girls and boys bleached their skin with whitewash made from a mixture of vinegar, lead, and other dangerous ingredients applied a thick layer of make-up made from no less dangerous materials. All this did not allow the skin to breathe and could leak from the heat, which turned the date into a very grotesque sight.
From such cosmetics, people often lose hair, and muscle paralysis occurs. Add to this the use of mercury, turpentine, and other substances that are best kept at a distance of a couple of hundred meters from the body, and you get a very terrible picture.