Dating the Jane Austen way

Posted on: 26 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Navigate the modern dating scene with the wit and wisdom of Jane Austen.

Do you ever hark back to centuries past, where men were romantic, gallant and noble? If you're disillusioned with today's dating world, take some inspiration from Jane Austen and find your feet again with these most prudent dos and don'ts.

Don't be reticent with your feelings
Ever since the introduction of America's "The Rules" dating book, the world has gone mad. Ridiculous statements like: "If he calls you, pretend you're out" just aren't helpful. I mean what's the point in that? Being all 'mysterious' just doesn't work. This is where we come to a lesson taught by the legend herself, Jane Austen.

In Pride & Prejudice, sweet-tempered Jane nearly lost Mr. Bingley because of the presumption that she wasn't interested. So don't be reticent with your feelings. If you like someone, tell them. However, over-doing the flirting will only attract the wrong kind, as Austen demonstrates with Lydia Bennett, who nearly faces ruin for running off with a man who never originally intended to marry her.

Don't be fooled by flattery
Jane Austen was fooled by the flattery of a man early on in her life. She believed herself to be engaged to him but was mistaken, and left heartbroken. This theme is echoed in many of her novels.

The theme of untrustworthy men has been touched upon twice in Jane Austen's books; in Sense & Sensibility, Marianne Dashwood, the younger of the two sisters, was duped by the charismatic, good-looking stranger 'Willoughby'. He seemed to offer her the world, with days out, romantic gestures and the like, but left her high and dry without so much as a goodbye - or a proposal. Did Willoughby actually say that he loved her though? I think Marianne explains it best when she says: "It was everyday implied but never declared."

Let's not forget the dashing Mr. Wycombe, whom Lizzie Bennett had a soft spot for in Pride & Prejudice. He was everything Mr. Darcy wasn't; charming, friendly and sociable. He was also a liar and a cad. So, learn from Austen's subtle hints!

Do choose someone who brings out the best in you

None of Jane Austen's heroines married someone just for the money or because they thought they had to, despite much opposition. They did what felt right - and married men who truly made them happy. In Persuasion, Anne was talked out of an "imprudent" marriage when she was young to a seemingly kind man but spent her life regretting it. She never stopped loving him, however, and he came back for her.

Don't overindulge your feelings
The more Marianne dwells on her love for Willoughby, the sicker she makes herself. If your love is clearly hopeless, try not to think about it every hour of the day and night. Distract yourself as much as possible and put it from your mind. It will make your recovery much faster.

Do learn to trust yourself
Most of Austen's heroines had good judgement. In Mansfield Park, Fanny Price was 'strongly advised' to marry Mr. Crawford, as he had money and she did not. Everyone seemed to like him, but Fanny did not trust him - her heart was with the loyal Edmund, whom she had known and loved since childhood. She took the decision to move back to poverty rather than marry Crawford, much to everyone's dismay. However, it worked out well in the end because Crawford proved himself to be untrustworthy and she married Edmund. So use your instincts and don't be swayed by other people.

Don't play mind games
Be honest - don't risk any Jane Bennett-style mix-ups!

Check out Jane Austen's Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson for more information. You can purchase it for £3.99 from Amazon.

By Jessica Smith

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