As one of the most famous female novelists of all time, Jane Austen is ardently admired and adored by women, both young and old, throughout the world. Her poetically written novels have firmly tugged at the heartstrings of millions since her books' first appearances in the late 1700s and early 1800s, and her societal and cultural influences only continue to grow as the years pass.
Thousands of books have been written about the modern wisdom the antiquated Jane can impart to those ladies who long to be romanced, wined, dined, and wooed like the leading ladies in her novels. We live in a time – however – when men would rather text a silly heart icon than handwrite a letter; where subtle romantic gestures have been replaced by obnoxious proclamations on Facebook; where men are pressured to believe that scoring on the first date makes them as suave as Johnny Depp; and where patiently waiting for love to mature and blossom is a thing of the past.
As most any young woman involved in today's dating market would know, a Mr. Darcy is hard to find. No, you aren't likely to find many of those rare qualities Jane Austen penned in the pages of her book, but that doesn't mean you should give up on finding a somewhat Darcy-esque man. Not only is college the primetime to be dating, it's also a perfect time to think about what advice you can take away from Ms. Austen.
Sure, Jane may have been writing in a time when movie dates, Friday-night dancing, and wine bars were nonexistent, but read through any of her novels, and you're likely to find tidbits of advice you can utilize in your dating life. In fact, here are four unique lessons we can learn from "Emma," "Pride & Prejudice," "Sense and Sensibility," and "Persuasion."
Emma- Don’t be a matchmaker
Throughout Jane Austen's "Emma," we see the ever-so-lively Emma doing anything and everything to set up the singles around her. In her efforts, Emma creates frivolous drama, frenzied gossip, and potent animosity. Do yourself a favor and never try to set any of your friends up. Matchmaking is an ancient art form that even the experts struggle with. Whenever you try to set two people up, you sometimes become the middleman and are stuck listening to things like, "Is he interested?" "Did he tell you anything?" "Why hasn't she called me?" Try and let your friends find their own partners, and find your own as well. As Emma appropriately taught us, matchmaking is best left up to the fates.
Pride & Prejudice- First dates aren't always that telling
My first date with my college boyfriend was awkward. He was quiet. I spilt red wine all over my white dress. He made a joke that I took offensively. I said I thought the Rolling Stones were better than The Beetles. He disagreed. Yet in the midst of our first date, I saw a tiny ray of hope. Though I wasn't the most enthusiastic about it, I went on another date and eventually fell in love with him. I often thought of how Lizzie must have felt about Mr. Darcy when she overheard him harshly saying, "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me." Of course she was horribly offended; why wouldn't she be? But, look at what happened: Over time Mr. Darcy revealed himself to be a most wonderful man. So whenever you find yourself on a not-so-great date, realize that our first impressions aren't always spot on and that it takes a while to authentically get to know someone.
Sense and Sensibility- There is a world of difference between lust and love
Let's say you've just gone on a few fantastic dates with a guy and are now eager to hope into a relationship and start calling him your boyfriend. Should you? Well, slow down a minute. As "Sense and Sensibility" taught us, love often takes a while to mature and grow and initial loving feelings are often born out of lust. The moment Marianne sees John Willoughby ride up on a horse to save her, she believes she has met the love of her life. Over time, the lust blinds Marianne until she finally uncovers John's true nature: deceptive, reckless, and uncaring. Her more sensible, long-lasting love for Colonel Brandon, however, takes years to develop. What dating advice can you take away from Marianne? That often times we must allow our initial feelings of lust to settle before we make any proclamations of love.
Persuasion- Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Years ago, men and women could stand to be separated by distance. Nowadays, we never allow ourselves to have a moment alone. I don't necessarily mean physically alone; many people spend hours apart from each other, but the need to be constantly plugged in with our partners through texting, online chatting, calling, skyping, etc. have made it possible for us to miss each other. Should it be that way? I'd suspect Jane Austen would say no. In "Persuasion," Anne is separated from Captain Wentworth for a period of years, and even when they are reunited, a separation remains in place. The time that this couple spends apart allows them to grow individually and begin to miss each other, which reunites them in the end. Their independence and long-awaited reunion is what makes "Persuasion" such a beautiful love story, in fact. So whenever you are dating in college, make sure to put some distance between you and your partner. It does wonders for the heart.
As Jane Austen wisely taught us, dating is not for the faint of heart. There are often a lot of tears and heartache involved in the process, but if you find a man like Mr. Darcy, trust me, it will all seem worth it. Try and incorporate these Jane-Austen-inspired tips into your college dating life and see where your romantic courtships take you.
Angelita Williams offers life long learning tips in her articles on college education, lifestyle, and wellness management. Though she specializes in online education, she likes to think that she can write about any topic with substance and precision. You can contact Angelita at firstname.lastname@example.org.