Avoid physical contact
While young Victorians could be as suggestive as they liked with their fans and their chaperone cards, under no circumstances could they touch. This might seem incredibly prude to us today, and in a sense it was. However, more than just prudishness there were real social reasons why physical contact was railed against. Sad as it is to say, while the main thing that was required of a suitable Victorian male was that he had the potential to be a good provider, the most prized quality of a potential Victorian wife was that she was still a virgin.
Temptation was best avoided, especially considering how ruinous it could be for a woman’s reputation. Thankfully, in the West, we are now moving away from these historically-entrenched views of measuring a woman’s worth in terms of her chastity. The Victorians, however, had undergone no such enlightenment. If it was believed she had been with another man, it could reduce her suitability as a wife in the eyes of some and close many social doors. If she’d had a child with another man, her chances of marrying well within her class were all but ruined.
For this reason, even after progressing through several stages of dating (like dancing, talking, and walking together at a distance), if a man was then invited to a woman’s house, their acquaintanceship would have to be under the watchful eye of a chaperone. After the appointed hour—which according to this stereograph above seems to have had a cut-off point of around 1:30 a.m.—the suitor would leave, though not without organizing their next meeting.
But then again, who needed physical contact when you could go on long, tense, and palpably awkward walks together in the countryside. Indeed, more than just whimsical ideas for a Sunday afternoon, these walks were prescribed as a fundamental stage in the dating process. And if a lady agreed to dance with you at the ball, talk to you (with her chaperone present, of course) and then go on a walk with you, it was a sign that things were going well.