Playing The Flirtation Game


“Ever wonder why the word engagement describes

both a promise of marriage & war battle?”-Undercover Bride

Wedding-Week-sepiaMy husband was recently asked by a young man how he dated me before mobile phones and texting. We got a good laugh out of that one. Try explaining the concept of planning ahead to today’s spur-of-the-moment youths and see where that gets you.

It did get me thinking though; how did men and women come together without benefit of modern day technology?   At least my husband and I had access to what is now called a land phone. 

That’s when I discovered that “texting” isn’t all that new. Yep, you got that right. 19th century lads did indeed “text” and they didn’t need a modern day phone to do it. They simply passed out flirtation or escort cards asking permission to make a young woman’s acquaintance or escort her home. These preprinted cards were fun, clever and often rhymed.

If the answer was yes, the woman simply kept the card. If no, she would return it.  Would any of these cards win your heart?


Note: Many thanks to Alan Mays for his wonderful collection.


My granddaughter thinks her generation invented chat acronyms. No doubt she’d be surprised to learn that many were developed during the 1800s to save money in sending telegrams. “Hw r u ts mng?” meant “How are you this morning?” And instead of lol they used the more efficient Ha. Love and kisses in telegram talk was simply 88.


Not sure I would want to be “interviewed” by a suitor. I’d pass on this one.


I’d be wary of a man with a stack of cards that said “two hearts beat as one.”
This one seems more like a business arrangement. Monkey business?
The words “escort” and “strictly confidential” makes me wonder what’s really on his mind.

Since we’re celebrating love and marriage this week,

tell us how you met your significant other.


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40 thoughts on “Playing The Flirtation Game”

  1. Those facts are fascinating. I love how you can give the cards back if you don’t want the guy to bring you home. Too bad you can’t do that nowadays. As for how I met my beau/husband, I’m still waiting on that one. God has it under control, I just don’t know what it is yet. 🙂

  2. I love these cards. What a great way to remember the day you met someone. I met my husband when I was living with my mom going through the divorce from my first husband. I became friends with my mom’s neighbor and he introduced me to his brother. We hit it off really good as friends. Eventually he asked me out

  3. Hi Margaret! Love the blog. Some of those cards are creepy. I think I could come up with much better lines than these and I sure know you can!! But it’s fun seeing those old flirtation cards and what their idea of romance was. 🙂

    My older sister introduced me to my 1st husband. They worked together. He asked me to marry him on the first date. Of course, I said no, but that didn’t deter him. He kept on and on until I agreed. I found my 2nd husband in a restaurant where I worked as a waitress. He’d come in and ask to sit at table and always left a generous tip. He was just getting over a divorce. It took several years for him to ask me to marry him. Neither of us were in any rush. Our hearts had to heal first.

    I hope you enjoy celebrating the 4th of July. I know without a doubt there’ll be laughter involved!!

    • Hi Linda, it seems like we have something in common. My husband asked me to marry him on our first date, too. I thought he was out of his mind. But he persisted.

      Happy 4th to you, too. Oh, yes, there will be laughter…

  4. Margaret you made me wonder about how many of those card a guy would need. Thinking that my brother would have had a box full “just in case.”
    I met my husband in a small country church at a Wednesday evening prayer meeting. That was 42 years ago.

    I really enjoyed Undercover Bride. Thank you for such enjoyable, entertaining and wholesome reading.

    • Hi Rosie, congratulations on 42 years. Today happens to be a friend’s anniversary. She and her husband have been married 65 years! BTW: I met my husband at a church meeting, too.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed Undercover Bride. Have a great 4th.

  5. In high school, a friend of mine returned a boy’s phone number as a sign of rejection. And we thought she was so clever . . . Nothing new under the sun, eh?

    Apparently I met my husband at a wild InterVarsity Christian Fellowship bonfire on the beach (wild because the UMD boys dragged a couch down there and lit it on fire, terrifying some freshmen). Being a bonfire at night, the lighting wasn’t good, but my husband is certain he greeted everyone who came, which included me. Thus we met. But it took a couple years of multi-college IV events with better lighting before we started dating.

    • Hi Rachael, I never thought of returning a guy’s telephone number, but it would sure get the message across.

      Burning couches? That’s must have been some party! So glad you and your hubby eventually “saw the light.”

  6. I met my husband in high school – he was the new kid in class and had traveled the world (air force brat) and I had never left my home town. We’re definite opposites. We just celebrated 46 yrs. last month.

    • Hi Catslady,
      Congratulations on 46 years! You know what they say; the first 50 years are the hardest.
      My husband and I are opposites, too. But that sure does keep things lively. Fortunately, we both have a good sense of humor.

      Happy 4th!

  7. Margaret, these cards are absolutely fabulous! I had no idea. I’d heard of dance cards but not these. And I did know about abbrev. for telegrams. In fact…although I didn’t use any abbreviations…on a trip to Europe right after college, I had to wire Daddy for more money in Rome…gulp. I figured adding “Love” to my signature was fifty cents well spend LOL.

    Hnbs and I went to high school together but were not sweethearts. In fact, he was Football Team Captain Hot Guy Boyfriend of the Head Cheerleader Homecoming Queen. Yup. I, however, was a Dork. We “re-met” at a Christmas party right after college. Oh, it was sparkles across a crowded room. Sigh.

    Years later some nasty jealous person mentioned at a reunion, snooty-ish, “I couldn’t believe YOU two had gotten together.” Dang, I might have been a little dorky (yearbook, honor roll) but I wasn’t a troll, either. Grrrrr.

    Super duper post today! xoxox

  8. Hi Tanya, fifty cents was a lot of money back then, but I’m sure your father appreciated the gesture.

    I LOVED hearing how you and your husband got together. Just shows he has good taste! I’d love to have seen Miss Nasty’s face when you two walked in! LOL

    Happy 4th and 88 (Sad to say I’m better at that old-fashioned telegram lingo than text acronyms).

  9. this is the first ive ever heard of these cards,,very interesting,,,when i was courting or going steady,which kids dont do that anymore they are “talking” heck we talked over the land line dial phone,,i had a blue princess style phone in my room but the whole family used that line it was not private just for me,,,you are right we planned a week in advance what we were going to do and if we were going to be late you found a pay phone and called home

  10. Hi Vickie, oh, yes, I remember those long telephone calls with my steady boyfriends.
    I also remember when my kids were dating. They would sit in the coat closet so they could talk in private. Whenever we saw the telephone cord trailing to the coat closet we knew someone special was on the line. LOL

  11. Those cards are fun. I think some of them may have worked on me……I met my husband after being stood up by the date I had that night. My friend and I were sitting on our front steps and these two guys stopped to talk so I guess you could say it was an old fashioned “Pick-Up”. I was paired of with his cousin when we took my friend home but it was my future husband who asked me out!

  12. Hi Quilt Lady, interesting. According to statistics work is the third most popular place to meet a significant other. Through rriends is number one and a social setting is number two.

  13. These cards are cute and a good idea, but I have to agree about not trusting someone who has a stack of “2 hearts beat as 1” type cards. The ease of being able to give the card back without any discussion would make life easier sometimes. 🙂

    I met my husband at work. I came to Texas for a short term job. He worked at the company and I shared an office with him that first day.

  14. WOW, Margaret! Who knew? I had no idea about these cards, and you sure found a ton of examples of them. Very interesting. Really enjoyed learning about these!

  15. I came home with a college friend for a long weekend. My future hubs was home from the army. As we were introduced, asmile and a wink melted my heart and eleven months later, we were married. We will celebrate our 40th anniversary in October,

  16. I have never heard of these cards! Very interesting! I met my husband at a disco. He offered me his seat — very much like George Strait’s “The Chair” if you’ve ever heard it. 37 years…today!!

  17. I have never heard of these cards before. They are delightful. They look Victorian or around that time. It seems a bit premeditated to print up cards like that. How many young women did they plan to hit on? They are a definite improvement over asking “What’s your sign?”

    We sat near each other in high school chemistry class. My best friend sat between us. It wasn’t until after we were married we discovered we both attended the same elementary school and were in third grade together. He changed schools, I moved to a neighboring town, and he moved into the new AF base housing and we ended up in high school together. His father died midway through that year which made an impression on me. I couldn’t imagine someone our age losing a parent. He moved (from northern NY to Orlando) the end of the school year. He & I exchanged Christmas cards and an occasional letter throughout college and through the years I was in the Peace Corps and he in the Air Force. We never dated before he asked me to marry him. It must have been right, we just celebrated our 43 anniversary.

  18. Would you want to receive one of these cards that had become worn? Seems like a warning that no one wanted him or that he was too poor to replace them. Not great signs for the future.

  19. I was eating lamb fries at an old Italian restaurant and I heard someone at a table close by say… a woman after my own heart! 3 months later we were engaged. I had just started teaching Home Economics and he worked on a rig. 31 years ago (next week) we’re now missionaries to Nicaragua.

  20. Those acronyms prove yet again there’s not much new under the sun 🙂 Thanks for the translation. I was lost after ‘how are you?’ I can see how these cards might be helpful to a shy guy particularly, but I wonder what the minimum print order was 😉

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