All Regency era dating rules Penelope and Colin broke over the course of their relationship

Bad Polin!

It will come as no surprise to learn that Bridgerton season three’s couple, Penelope and Colin, were not exactly orthodox when it comes to how they conducted their courtship. Regency enthusiasts will be well-versed in just how scandalously Polin behaved, not just in the latest season but since the start of the entire show. But, for those of you who don’t know a thing about Regency dating etiquette, an outline might help.

It’s worth noting that many of these scandalous behaviours from the third season’s couple have been ongoing since the start of the show, but since Penelope was in the friend zone they didn’t really “count” as much as they do when reciprocated romance is involved. That said, here’s an overview of all the ways Penelope and Colin broke the Regency era dating rules in Bridgerton over the course of their relationship.

Meeting the way they did

bridgerton penelope colin regency dating

via Netflix

Kicking off with a flashback to the first time Colin and Penelope met (which I’m still mad we didn’t get to see on-screen), even that cute story technically could have caused scandal. Friends and family were supposed to officially introduce couples for the first time at formal occasions, and as we know, technically it’s a horse that introduces the two after throwing Colin off its back.

Giving each other nicknames

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On to the slightly more surprising rules dating rules broken by the Bridgerton couple is the use of nicknames by Colin and Penelope. Even before Penelope’s feelings were reciprocated, the two had always addressed one another by their first name, which was also frowned upon in Regency society.

Officially, couples were not meant to call each other by their first names until they were engaged. Instead, they were expected to address each other by their titles, be that Miss, Mr or Mrs.

Obviously then, Colin’s nickname for Penelope, being “Pen”, was also breaking the rules, but I kind of think that was just an Easter egg about Penelope as Lady Whistledown.

Writing to each other

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Another rule Penelope and Colin break surrounding Regency dating rules in Bridgerton is the letters they have sent to each other throughout their entire friendship. In episode one this season, Colin asks Penelope why she never wrote back to him while he was travelling.

Previously, she’d been spamming him with letters when she was pining for him, so when she stopped he had to turn to being a journal girlie instead. Regardless, letter-writing between couples was Not Allowed unless you were engaged or married.

Being alone together

bridgerton penelope colin regency dating

via Netflix

Another dating rule Penelope and Colin have been breaking since the start of Bridgerton is being alone together. Being the central issue in season one when Cressida threatened to out Daphne and Simon for being alone in the garden together at a ball, obviously anything could happen when two single people are alone together unchaperoned: Namely, what went down in the carriage in season three.

Even before the infamous episode four scene, in the first episode this season they’re alone together outside the first ball. And even Colin knows they shouldn’t be as he acknowledges that Penelope is not a spinster and should not be alone with him. And then he suggests they go somewhere even more private! Shock, outrage, scandal.

Touching each other in any capacity before marriage

bridgerton penelope colin regency dating

via Netflix

Fun fact: Regency social rules dictated that unmarried couples could not even touch skin before the wedding, let alone bump uglies – that’s why everyone wears gloves at balls.

Obviously, Pen and Colin break this one many, many times as well: Shaking hands when they agree Colin will give Penelope lessons on charm, Pen bandaging up Colin’s hand, and the kiss she asked him for, to name a few.

Having sex before marriage

bridgerton penelope colin regency dating

via Netflix

The final rule is probably the one that most Bridgerton viewers will have picked up on already, but in case you were just really confused during the last two seasons when Anthony threatened to kill his best friend after he suspected he had gotten a bit freaky with his sister back in season one, it’s because sex before marriage was forbidden.

Obviously, this season things between Pen and Colin got heated in the infamous carriage scene before they were even technically engaged, and if Penelope had been caught Compromised she would’ve been in some serious shit if Colin hadn’t proposed.

In reality, many Regency people did not abide by the pre-marital sex ban at all, as up to one in three women were pregnant before their wedding during this period.

The no sex before marriage rule was actually to protect inheritance and property rights: Women “needed” to remain virgins until they married to ensure that any children would definitely be those of her husband. Don’t really know why I didn’t consider that that was why before, I kind of just thought it was to punish women?

Bridgerton season three is available on Netflix now. For more like this and all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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