Here is an interesting and thoughtful look at life for a young woman in England. I couldn't find a publication date, but there is an inscription from 1844. Some of this you may want to read twice because the author has a sly way of saying things.
Some of this is surprisingly real even in today's society. And some of it will cause you to raise your brows or just roll on the floor laughing.
From The Daughters of England, Their Position in Society, Character and Responsibilities by Mrs. Ellis.
Love is a subject which is ever been open to discussion, amongst persons of all classes and of every variety of mind and character, yet, after all, there are few subjects which present greater difficulties, especially to a female writer. How to compress a subject which is filled so many volumes, into the space of one chapter, is also another difficulty but I will begin by dismissing a large portion of what is commonly called by that name, as a wholly unworthy of my attention, I mean that which originates in mere fancy, without reference to the moral excellence of the object; and if my young readers imagine, that out of the remaining part they shall be able to elicit much amusement, I fear they will be disappointed; for I am one of those who think that the most serious act of a woman's whole life is to love.
What, then, I would ask, is love? that it should be the cause of some of the deepest realities in our experience, and of so much of our merriment and folly?
The reason why so many persons act foolishly, and consequently lay themselves open to ridicule, under the influence of love, I believe to originate in the grand popular mistake of dismissing this subject from our serious reading in conversation, and leaving it to the unceremonious treatment of light novels, and low jests; by which unnatural system of philosophy, that which is in reality the essence of woman's being, and the highest and holiest amongst her capabilities, bestowed for the purpose of teaching us of how much our nature is capable for the good of others, has become a thing of sly purpose and frivolous calculation.
The very expression— “falling in love” —has done incalculable amount of mischief, by conveying an idea that it is a thing which cannot be resisted, and which must be given way to, either with or without reason. Persons are said to have fallen in love, precisely as they would be said to have fallen into a fever or ague-fit; and the worst of this mode of expression is, that amongst young people, it has led to a general yielding up of the heart to the first impression, as if it possessed itself no power of resistance.
Having chosen your lover for his suitability, it is of the utmost consequence, that you should guard against that natural propensity of the youthful mind, to invest him with every ideal excellence. Endeavor to be satisfied with him as he is, rather than imagine him what he can never be. It will save you a world of disappointment in after life. Now, indeed, does this extravagant investiture of the fancy belong, as is sometimes supposed, to that meek, and true, and abiding attachment which it is woman’s highest virtue and noblest distinction to feel. I strongly suspect it is vanity, and not affection, which leads a young woman to believe her lover perfect; because it enhances her triumph, to be the choice of such a man. The part of the true-hearted woman, is to be satisfied with her lover, such as he is, and to consider him, with all his faults, as sufficiently exalted, and sufficiently perfect for her. No after-development of character can shake the faith of such a woman, no ridicule or exposure can weaken her tenderness or a single moment; while, on the other hand, she who had blindly believed her lover to be without a fault, must ever be in danger of awaking to the conviction that her love her love exists no longer.
One word before this chapter closes, to those who have arrived at years of womanhood without having known what it was to engage the attentions of a lover; and of such I must observe, that by some unaccountable law of nature, they often appear to be the most admirable of their sex. Indeed, while a sparkling countenance, an easy manner, and – to say the least of it – a willingness to be admired, attract a crowd of lovers; it not infrequently happens, that retiring merit, and un-ostentatious talent, (will) scarcely secure the homage of one. And yet, on looking around upon society, one sees so many of the vain, the illiterate, and the utterly useless, chosen and solicited as wives, that we are almost tempted to consider those who are not thus favored, as in reality the most honorably distinguished amongst their sex.