In the past, dating couples were often chaperoned. To better communicate with one another while under a watchful eye, unspoken languages developed around frequently used items such as gloves, fans, and postage stamps. For instance, by dropping both gloves, a woman could express for love for someone. By wearing the right glove with the thumb exposed, she would be saying, “kiss me.” During Victorian times, gloves were also used on valentines and as wedding favors. A gift of gloves from a suitor was a serious step toward marriage, as he was symbolically offering the girl his hand.
The fan was another means of expression. If a woman fanned herself slowly, she indicated she was married. On the contrary, she could hold the fan in her left hand and in front of her face to hint that she was desirous of someone’s acquaintance. And finally, by twirling the fan in her left hand, she could inform her suitor that they were being watched, more than likely by the chaperone.
The language of the postage stamp lingers on today. By placing a stamp upside down in the left corner of an envelope, one says “I love you,” whereas to do the same in the right corner sends a message of “write no more”. Likewise, secret messages are often found written under stamps.
Bundling was another courting practice. This antiquated universal tradition gave permission to a would-be groom and bride to sleep together. However, an important stipulation called for them to stay dressed and under separate sheets.