Cringeworthy Historical Dating Practices That Will Make You Want To Stay Single

We all know dating can be hard. It’s a minefield of drama, ghosting, trolling, and all the other delights that come with 21st-century social life. And sometimes we find ourselves longing for the good old days before dating apps and social media stalking. But every so often, take a moment to be thankful that you were born in this time period and not a past one. Because let us tell you, dating was much, much worse back then.

Careful who you hold hands with

“Handfasting” was common in colonial America: it was basically a way to get married without any strings attached. You just held hands and pledged to be wed and that was that, you didn’t even need a priest. And yep, plenty of young scoundrels took part in a handfasting ceremony and then immediately vamoosed.

Only fans

During the Victorian era, women were meant to be seen and not heard — but they came up with an ingenious way to be heard anyway. When an unmarried woman wanted to communicate with her beloved in a room full of people, she might use fan language! Opening and shutting the fan in particular ways, or touching a part of the body with it, meant different — and sometimes scandalous — things.

Get ready to fight

Taking the phrase “Til death do us part” literally, married women of the Teutons — a formidable tribe from northern Europe — were expected to go with their husbands whenever they headed off to war. And not just to nurse their wounds afterwards — they had to get properly involved. Some just cheered their husbands on from the sidelines, but plenty of others picked up a sword and jumped right into the bloodiest of battles. 

Joust Club

In a way, jousting tournaments were the 12th-century equivalent of a nightclub. No, really! Noble knights and fair maidens would be openly on the lookout for partners, trading smoldering glances in between unlucky people getting lances to the face. And just as with nightclubs, older conservative people complained that jousting tournaments were dens of sin.