Since I was 11, I wished that my life would be like a Jane Austen novel. Well, I’m now twenty-two, and if Jane Austen really were writing my life story, I’d flip her the bird right about now. I’ve always characterized my mind as a little bit Elizabeth Bennet, while my nature is shyer, like Jane Bennet. Actually, it’s extremely shy and demure like her in matters of the heart. I’m a tad bit of Elinor Dashwood, and most certainly not a Mary Crawford. You know… I really think I’m a little bit of George Knightley, too. Perhaps I’m more than what I’ve chosen to example here, but, you know, this isn’t a character comparison of me.
Dating, or courting, is supposed to be delicate, and fun… adventurous even! It’s supposed to have highs and lows –after all Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy didn’t quite hit it off! Let’s not push Emma Woodhouse out of the picture here either. Any Austenian would know that things are often off kilter before they settle. Despite all the awkwardness and distaste at first, aren’t there supposed to be heart-melting, “I’m-an-idiot” moments where one person realizes their feelings? Here’s my general understanding of “dating” in Austen: 1)the meeting 2) intrigue 3) off kilter bullcrap (possible expression of feelings) 4) struggle with emotions/disposition 5) recognition of feelings 6) expression of feelings 7) agreement of feelings 8) the end. Alright, so maybe that seems too cliché for modern times, and when it comes down to it, dating in your twenties is frustrating. I have often wished it was simpler! My tale of dating, however, isn’t quite as simple and delicate as I would like it.
Instead, my tale goes a little like this:
1. There was the boy (and I dare say boy, as his behaviors don’t make him a man) who I first fell in love with. He, classically, put me in the “not my girlfriend” category and played mind games by treating me differently in different scenarios and calling me names when I was honestly upset with how I was treated. Being naïve and unwilling to see past it, I let the games go on with the hope that he’d changed for the best. (Feel free to eyeroll.) He didn’t (shocking). My heart was broken and re-broken for a good long… 7 months before I finally had the vigor to cut him off and shove him out of my life. Oh, what fun times.
2. We can’t forget the boy who I never thought was into me. To my dismay he asked me out on a few dates. Then when I returned his call to go out another time, he never called me back. He actually never said anything to me again. When we passed each other on campus in the fall he apparently didn’t even recognize who I was.
3. The boys at the bar who want a girl to shag, but, genuinely nice girls like me don’t simply go home with sleazy men who buy drinks and dance. There is a thing called respect, which doesn’t involve attempting to put your hands up my shirt when we’ve just met, m’kay?
4. The boy who captured my eye. This is the “wowzer” type guy, the one who casually comes along after the mishaps. He’s a “wowzer,” because, let’s face it a girl like me isn’t used to a man who’s genuine. This is the guy who’s frighteningly too “real” after having my heart broken by selfish boys. He’s the guy (not quite a man, but not a boy) who wanted me to make the first move! Being scared, I just couldn’t do it; when I was prepared to find the “right moment” to make it, he’d stopped holding conversations with me. Confused, I stopped texting him. If he wanted to talk to me, or be friends, he would… right? Apparently he didn’t. He couldn’t even say “hey, I’m not that interested right now.” Now, I could kick myself for not making a move just once, because I “truly did like him.”
5. There’s the guys from online dating sites who don’t quite look like their pictures in person, the really creepy ones, and the ones that, as it turns out, I just don’t have a physical attraction to in person (AKA: Friend Zoned).
Looking back on my dating life, it’s not huge, but… not a single one worked out… The ones I thought would be mature totally weren’t (I mean, duh, they’re males!). The ones I thought were worth my effort, didn’t think I was worth theirs. The boy I fell in love with made me feel so crazy that I actually went to counseling to figure out what was wrong with me, the boys who found someone else to bide their time, and the boy who let go without warning. The rest are weird “first dates” and “never-doing-that-agains.” While Jane Austen heroines get the man in the end, good or bad, but I’m trudging my way through the middle, and boy-oh-boy it sucks. It is a whole lot of disappointment and “what-the-hell-was-I-thinking” here in the middle (I’m sure many of you know the feeling!). It’s great for readers to watch Elizabeth Bennet deal with her emotions and prejudice towards Darcy, and deal with her hurt pride, but when one starts playing the dating game: beware! There’s more “ouch!” moments before you find someone who is truly your equal. Dating isn’t horrible, but for a girl who’s genuinely honest, confident, a tad shy, and unafraid to be herself, it hasn’t been a smooth road thus far. For once in my life, I don’t idolize the romantic and social struggles Austen’s characters went through. I wouldn’t’ advise anyone to idolize it either.
My sister loves to say that we will get to the end eventually (she’s a bit more Lizzie Bennet than I am in dating), and she’s right, but if Jane Austen really were writing my life, I’d be flipping her off until I got to the end. Despite a broken heart, awkward single situations, and idiotic moments, I’m glad that Austen is not writing my story right now! That being said, she can definitely write the ending (just as long as adventures, a lot of laughter, and cage diving for sharks off the coast of South Africa is added in there).