When a young girl was “brought out” in society by her appearance in The Season, she didn’t have the rest of her life to become situated with the right man, she had to captivate a suitable swain right away. The sad fact was that the second season debutante was a bit of a disappointment, heaven help her if she appeared in the same finery as she wore during her initial period of “coming out”. The second season was do-or-die for the poor girl otherwise she would be relegated to the sad ranks of the “shopworn” third season “deb”.
So, a young lady had really only two, or at most three seasons to find a husband or she was considered a failure in polite society. It was very unfair and a totally passive activity for the women who (as you may have suspected) could not actively choose who was attracted to them (barring eyelash batting and fan dropping), could not ask a man to dance with her, marry her or do anything other than agree or disagree to do something he proposed.
If a young lady reached the age of 30 without a proper husband, she was considered a spinster and was struck off the list of balls, parties, and entertainments. This was an exceptionally sad position to find yourself in, and the patent ostracism imposed on you just magnified the misery.