There are plenty of reasons why a woman might not want to date someone. For starters, being single in today’s world can be really fun. You have all the time in the world to focus on yourself, your hobbies, your friends, and your career. But during Victorian times, women had one role in life and that was to get married to an outstanding man.
But despite the pressure of finding a worthy man to marry, Victorian women had some pretty high standards when choosing a partner and sometimes they even rejected their suiters for all sorts of bizarre reasons, at least, according to a popular column of the time titled “Why Am I A Spinster?”
She Didn’t Fancy His Face
Lizzie Moore confessed to the column “Why Am I a Spinster?” that she judged her lovers by how pleasant their faces were. She was only attracted to men who had the perfect face. So, from her perspective, if the guy’s face wasn’t doing it for her, he wasn’t worth her time.
He Was Too Poor
Miss E. Jones also told the column, “Why Am I a Spinster?” that the reason the relationship between her and her husband didn’t work out was because he had lost his job. Seeing as to how women of the time could solely rely on men for financial support, love just wasn’t enough to keep them together.
Marriage Just Wasn’t For Her
When Miss A. Wood Smith read an ad in the paper from a man looking for “a sort of angel and housewife combined,” she realized that marriage wasn’t something she wanted in her life. So, she decided to stay happily single for the rest of her natural life. Sounds like this gal was ahead of the times!
Working Was Better Than Marriage
Florence Watts felt that getting a paying job was better than having a thankless job like being a housewife. "The hours are shorter, the work more agreeable, and the pay possibly better," she explained in the column.
Her Odds of Being Married Weren’t Good
Sophia Drew was a realist. She was well aware that there couldn't possibly be a man for every woman out there. And, according to her, the odds of finding a suitable suitor was slim in her situation. "There are so many more women than men, we cannot all hope to marry," she explained in the column.
She Was Untamable
Sarah Kennerly compared herself to an untamable horse who wanted to be wild and free. Being roped into a loveless marriage was not her definition of happiness. So, while some Victorian women craved a life partner, she was too happy being alone without the need to ask for anyone's permission.
She Dumped Him To Be in a Singles Contest
One woman by the name of Lilian Harris admitted that while she loved her boyfriend very much, she loved being famous even more. So, when she discovered that there was a contest being held for single women, she gave her man the boot and entered the contest.
He Wasn’t a Great Kisser
For some women, a kiss was a great way to test for chemistry with a potential mate. So, if she locked lips with a guy and she didn’t feel any sparks, then she didn’t waste any time dumping them and moving on to the next guy.
She Preferred Animals Over Men
One of the reasons women of the Victorian age would break things off with men was because they loved their animals more. For many women who wrote in, men were detached creatures who couldn't be depended on, especially when it came to love and affection. Pets on the other hand? They were always there for you, according to one woman. "Man [is] less docile than a dog, less affectionate than a cat, and less amusing than a monkey."
She Was Already Successful
Like most Victorian women, Maude M. Kilbride wanted a fine man who could provide for her. But when her embroidery business took off, she realized she could fend for herself and didn’t need a man to get by. So, she cut ties with any and all potential relationships.
He Tucked His Napkin Under His Chin
While it might seem like proper etiquette to tuck a napkin under someone’s shirt, Victorian women found that it made men look like children. Therefore, it was inappropriate for a guy to do so. But those that did often found themselves looking for a new girlfriend.
He Was Late to a Meal
It was considered inappropriate for men to be late to a family dinner because it tended to create negative feelings. To that end, if a guy was late to a meal more than once, Victorian women lost interest in them.
She Wanted to Win Arguments
Victorian men didn’t necessarily mind arguing with their women, but they always expected to have the last say. Victorian women, however, were advised to let their man win over any argument they've ever had. Unsurprisingly, this often caused the couple to head to splitsville.
Men Weren’t in Her Class
Some Victorian women had become painfully aware of the fact that men who came from a higher class as their own rarely treated them as equals. So, whenever a woman fell for a guy who ranked higher in society’s scale, she knew the relationship was dunzo.
She Didn’t Want to Marry for Love
While love seemed like a very good reason to get married to someone, some women felt that marrying for this reason was wrong and would ultimately lead to an unhappy marriage. So instead, women would ignore their feelings and focus on finding men who could offer them financial stability over all things.
Marriage Just Wasn’t Appealing
While some women looked forward to marriage, others found the concept of conceiving five or six kids to a man who may or may not stay faithful simply unbearable. So, these women opted for casual relationships.
She Didn’t Want to Ignore Infidelity
Ignoring infidelity was the norm for Victorian women, so when their husbands strayed from their relationship, they got away with it. So, some women ended things with men who had wandering eyes before he could even put a ring on it.
She Wanted to Wear Makeup
Victorian women were told that it was okay to look alluring as long as they didn’t look too alluring. This meant that putting too much makeup on was a social no-no as long as they were in a relationship, which is why some women preferred a less-restrictive life.
Getting Ready In the Morning Was Less Complicated
Since women weren’t allowed to wear makeup, they had to achieve the pale skin and rosy lips that were so popular at that time without relying on their makeup box. But that seemed like such a hassle, so some of them preferred staying single and having the freedom to use all the makeup products they wanted.
She Wanted to Be Clean
In those days, a clean woman made others, particularly men, feel awkward. Now, this didn’t mean that they couldn’t be clean. They just had to be careful about not overdoing it to avoid making others feel too uncomfy.
She Wanted to Be Fashionable
Victorian women had to face the hard cold fact that being in a relationship meant that they were expected to be fashionable, but not too fashionable because this gave the impression that she spent too much of her husband’s money. But single gals didn’t have to worry about such nonsense.
She Couldn’t Nag
Ask anyone who’s married today, and they’ll tell you that their significant other has been a total nag on more than one occasion. But Victorian women weren’t allowed to nag. They were expected to obey, and that just wasn’t cool for some ladies.
She Couldn’t Conceive While Depressed
In Victorian times, marriage manuals for women stated that women shouldn’t conceive a child while feeling depressed because it could potentially affect the child’s health. But since depression could hit at any time, some women opted to stay single so they could handle their emotional state on their own.
She Couldn’t Conceive While Drunk
Much like the rule that said conceiving while depressed was bad, there was a rule that told women that conceiving while drunk could hurt the child’s wellbeing both physically and emotionally. So, obviously, staying single was the only option for women who enjoyed booze more than men.
She Wanted a Career
Although poor women had no other choice but to work, the thought of a middle or upper-class woman working wasn’t just unthinkable, it was unheard of. This is why independent women preferred to stay single in order to pursue a career.
She Preferred Music and Literature
In the 2016 book “Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners,” Therese ONeill shared that women who had talent in the field of music or literature were practically impossible to marry because “For a wife to work was to declare that her husband was incompetent and could not provide for his family.”
She Expected Too Much From Her Husband
Some women defied the times and learned all there was to know about relationships in the bedroom with men. Unfortunately, this often led to misconceptions of what was actually going to happen and they expected more from their men than what was given leading to some serious disappointment.
She Feared Her Wedding Night
What happens on the wedding night is generally something most couples look forward to. But in Victorian times, middle and upper class women weren’t taught about the birds and the bees. So, for some women, the thought of what might happen was so terrifying that it either led to them staying single or taking their own lives.
She Didn’t Like Men At All
Same-gender relationships were not as common in Victorian times as they are today, but this didn’t stop some women from choosing their own gender over men. Just ask Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward. Unfortunately, when their relationship was exposed, Mitchell killed Ward.
She Only Wanted British Men
Miss Jessie Davies didn’t ask for much, except that her potential suitor was British. Apparently, she didn’t really fancy American men because she couldn’t stand their American behavior. Well, at least she knew what she did and didn’t want.
No Man Was Good Enough
Some Victorian women were impossible to please. Take S. A. Roberts for instance. She considered herself to be on a class of her own, so she naturally wanted a mate that was just as important. But sadly, no man could meet her high maintenance requirements.
She Was Too Picky
A woman named Annie Newton wrote that she didn’t want some random guy who was a total nobody. She wanted a man who had a title “higher than a soldier or settler.” But while she aimed for a Duke or a King, she ended up settling for someone who was more ordinary.
She Was Fickle Instead of Faithful
One woman wrote in her letter that she was very picky when it came to men. “I have been fickle when I ought to have been faithful,” she shared. In the end, she stayed single.
She Was Never Wanted
On occasion, it wasn’t that women didn’t want to be loved. It was that no one seemed to want them. In fact, a gal named Annie Thompson wrote to the column that she was like the British Rifle Volunteers. In other words, “always ready but not yet wanted.”
She Didn’t Like Lying to Men
Miss Gore wrote a poem that explained how much she disliked being dishonest with men, so any guy that was interested in more than having an occasional one night stand was escorted out of her house and out of her life. You see, Gore only wanted to hook up with men. She wasn't suited for marriage and she wanted her men to know this.
She Preferred Cake Over Men
One Victorian woman shared that men were "pleasing to the eye, but... prove hollow and stale... with a minimum of sweetness." So after a couple of bad experiences, she swore off men for life.
She Couldn’t Commit
Men aren’t the only ones who had commitment issues. Victorian women like Laura Bax admitted that they had some serious issues when it came to committing to one relationship and one man, hence why they called it quits.
Cats Were More Faithful
Some women preferred cats over men and thought men were nothing but big old fools that needed to be avoided in a Victorian Spinster article. "Although he may wander and leave me at night, I can always depend he won’t come home tight," she explained.
She Was Bad at Love
Sometimes the blame isn’t always on the man. In some instances, women admitted to being so bad at love that they played mind games instead of taking things seriously. This eventually led to the dissolution of the relationship and some women soon wound up with cats as their only sources of comfort.
He Entered a Dressing Room
One conduct that men had to avoid was entering a ladies’ dressing room at a ball. It sounds like a harmless infraction, but this was deemed impolite. And women didn’t take kindly to a guy doing this. Even an apology wasn’t enough to get the woman to change her mind.
He Made Small Talk
Small talk might be common today, but it was considered taboo-ish to do so in Victorian times. So, if a woman caught a man engaging in small talk, she would end up in the arms of another gentleman in less than no time.
He Talked Too Loud
While some gals love a guy who’s chatty and loves to laugh, Victorian women were turned off by a man who talked too loud in public or laughed out loud, too. This was a behavior unbecoming of a gentleman.
He Crossed His Legs
It sounds insane, but while it was okay for women to cross their legs, gentlemen could not. In fact, it was considered quite unbecoming for men and also a sign that he would never truly be into her.
He Didn’t Precede Her Upstairs
It was an unspoken rule that a man had to precede a woman walking upstairs. And when going down the stairs, he followed her and not the other way around. Failure to follow this rule was a serious turn off.
He Didn’t Believe in Ladies First
Everyone knows that it’s chivalrous to let a woman go first before entering a home, a restaurant, a building, or a room. And when entering a church or a hall, a guy that preceded the lady in walking down the aisle was not worthy of a lady’s attention.
His Shoes Weren’t Clean
Are men’s shoes the way to a woman’s heart? They certainly were back then. Men had to have properly cleaned and polished shoes before paying women a visit or they would eventually be looking for a new girlfriend.
He Lacked Fine Attire
Cleanliness and fine attire were a must back in the day and Victorian women had no time for a man who failed to dress appropriately and look his absolute best. So, men who were total slobs often got tossed to the side.
He Wasn’t Well Groomed
Men had to have clean hands, and this included their nails. They also had to have bright white teeth and clean skin. This might sound obvious, but in Victorian times these were all signs of a gentleman of good society. And women had no time for a guy wasn’t well groomed.
Cheating May Improve Relationships
In contradiction to a lot of the previous dating foes, author Mimi Matthews claimed that Victorian women preferred men who had engaged in extramarital affairs because they were more experienced. So, while cheating might be a deal breaker for modern women, it certainly wasn’t the case for some Victorian women.
Limiting lovemaking doesn't sound like a good idea today. But according to Ruth, the wife of Reverend L.D. Smythers, if a woman provides two brief lovemaking sessions a week, then this could lead to a loving relationship that lasts a lifetime. Her biggest tip was to be willing but not too willing to go to bed with your husband. "One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY," explained Ruth.