What History Has Taught us About Dating

Friday, June 1st, 2012
What History Has Taught us About Dating

When it comes to historic dating practices it seems that shouting about your love from a balcony or playing the loot while reciting jaunty lyrics weren’t the only ways to get yourself noticed by an attractive suitor. From personal ads to pleasure gardens there was something for everyone.

Love notes

From what I’ve gathered from history the Victorians were obsessed with sending cards; from Valentine’s Day through to Christmas there was a card for every occasion.

Men also used to carry cards with them for the purpose of attracting a wife; after being formally introduced to a woman a man could hand her a card to show that he was interested in her romantically. The woman could then choose to reciprocate by handing him her own card at the end of the evening or she could choose to ignore his advances.

In the 21st century sending a message to someone is still a good way to let them know that you fancy them;  however it’s not the norm to hand it to them in person, unless you’re still at school. Check out our guide to writing your first message to find out how you can personalise online dating messages to attract a modern day suitor.

Personal ads

Local papers and dating sites alike are packed full of people with a ‘good sense of humour’ who ‘love long walks and curling up with a good book’, but when personal ads were first published in the 17th century they read more like adverts for business partners, with men boasting of their ‘good work ethic’ and large fortunes.

So what can we learn from such formal personal ads? I’m not suggesting that you should talk about your wages on your profile, but it’s important to highlight your good points in your online dating profile. Think about what makes you stand out from the crowd; whether it’s your ability to juggle saucepans or run a marathon dressed as a chicken.

Keep an eye on our dating blog to find out more about what to write in your online dating blog and if you want to know what you really shouldn’t write check out What NOT to Write in an Online Dating Profile.


In the 19th century it was seriously frowned upon for an unmarried man and woman to meet without a chaperone, but for sneaky Londoners pleasure gardens offered them the chance to lose their chaperones among the crowds.

The pleasure gardens were, as the name suggests a place of entertainment; so men could woo their women with romantic music, lighting and sometimes even fireworks displays.

If you’re trying to woo a date, a public event is still a good option. With so many activities going on this year for the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, there’s no excuse not to take advantage of at least one of the spectacular free events. Even if you’re meeting in a public place it’s still important to consider your safety and to tell someone where you are going.

Technology may have changed the way we find a date, but when it comes to impressing your date there’s nothing like a good bit of old-fashioned romance.

What’s the weirdest dating fact you’ve ever heard? Join the discussion on Facebook.