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8 fail-safe relationship tips we can all learn from Jane Austen

Written by Susannah Cronin Jane Austen Afecionada 

2013 marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, and so reaffirmed that Austen’s novels are just as popular as ever. Apart from being greatly entertaining stories, they serve as an interesting insight to the social interactions of 18th century England. The romances of Lizzie and Darcy - and all other of Austen’s couples - are beloved and coveted by many the world over. But how can their relationships assist us in ‘courting’ in the 21st century? Here are eight relationship tips we can all take from Jane Austen and apply to our love lives today.



Beware of your friends getting too involved

Harriet Smith, in Austen’s Emma, is persuaded by her friend to turn down an offer of marriage. Harriet endures much distress throughout the novel, only to follow her heart and accept the offer after all. Particularly when you first begin dating it can be tempting to discuss each and every tiny detail about your date with your friends. Friends are there to listen, but beware of them becoming too involved. Although they may have your best interests at heart, what they deem to be right may in fact cause heartache to both you and your date. The relationship should exist between you two alone!


Don’t be ‘hopelessly devoted’

Emma Woodhouse and George Knightly enjoy a flirtation without being in each other’s pockets all the time. Life is made up of so much more besides their relationship. As much as you must connect with, and be there for your partner, put yourself first once in a while. You both need space and time to indulge in your own activities and hobbies. You can’t spend every waking moment together; it isn’t healthy.

Austen2Northanger Abbey


Laughter is the best medicine

The basis of Henry Tilney and Catherine Moreland’s relationship is formed on merriment. One of the most important components of a relationship is a sense of humour. Try not to take yourselves too seriously. Things happen, we’re not all prefect all the time. Learn to laugh at yourselves!

If your partner needs reprimanding, go ahead!

Catherine’s over-active imagination does eventually lead to trouble. Henry puts her in her place and shows her the error of her ways when she goes too far. When your partner really deserves a telling off –do it! Don’t be afraid of confrontation. How else will you both grow and learn from each other?

Sense and Sensibility

Don’t fall for superficial qualities

Marianne Dashwood enjoys a whirlwind ‘love-at-first-sight’ romance with Willoughby …until he dumps her for a much richer woman. We then discover he’s not a wholesome as he appears. Of course, there were 18th century social factors at work, but even so… Obviously attraction is vastly important when it comes to dating, yet a handsome face and charisma exclusively will not make a relationship work. Pay attention to the moralities and kindness of a person. Marianne does find happiness in the end with the far less dashing, yet far more gracious and righteous Colonel Brandon.


Bad beginnings can signify happy endings

Anne Elliot gets her second chance at happiness when she accepts Captain Wentworth’s proposal of marriage. She endures much pain on his account after being persuaded to refuse him eight years previously. Bad beginnings with someone don’t necessarily always mean that you’re written off forever. Just look at Darcy and Lizzie, Jane and Bingley, Elinor and Edward, and many other of Austen’s couples. That’s not to say: go back to someone who has treated you atrociously. Rather, try as much as possible to keep an open mind in these situations. You never know what might happen!

Pride and Prejudice

Always stay true to yourself

Lizzie Bennett’s unrestrained sense of self-worth is one of the many qualities which first attracts the eye of Mr Darcy. She’s a strong female character who is unafraid of being herself, or provoking the disdain of the much richer Miss Bingley. When dating someone in the early days: always be yourself. It’s tempting to impress your date by telling little white lies here and there, but if you want to establish a proper relationship with this person, don’t say anything you may regret later on. Don’t change yourself for anyone. You want someone to appreciate you for who you are. If you do end up together, lies will inevitably be found out!

Being single is great!

Finally, don’t ‘do a Charlotte Lucas’ and settle! Admittedly, Miss Lucas had rather limited options when it came to marrying, but today - the possibilities are endless! Embrace singledom! Truly, your happiness doesn’t depend upon a relationship with a man, even one such as Mr Darcy. Go out and enjoy your time as a free, intelligent girl! Let the Darcys of the world come to you.


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