September 8, 2016

Chasing Wickhams when we’re Seeking Darcys: Love Lessons from Pride & Prejudice.

pride prejudice anime couple love art

I recently saw a t-shirt advertised online that said “Looking for my Darcy in a world filled with Wickhams.”

As a single lady and fan of Pride and Prejudice, this really hit home. And it started me thinking about dating and why it’s so hard to find a nice guy.

Maybe we are truly looking for our Darcy in a world full of Wickhams, but aren’t we all a little (or a lot) attracted to the Wickhams? That blond-haired, blue-eyed, good-looking charmer. The one who is easy to be around and good at banter. The one who always says the right thing, whether his actions back it up or not. It’s so easy to be attracted to a Wickham-type.

But the Darcys, on the other hand, may not have that smooth veneer, which the Wickhams use to cover their lies. Maybe the authentic Darcys of our world aren’t drawing our attention in the way that the attention-seeking Wickhams always will. Maybe their charm is more subtle, and less contrived.

It seems like we get to a point where we are finally and completely tired of being used, tired of being mistreated, tired of being lied to. We get to a place where all we want is to have a genuine connection with another human being who isn’t trying to use us for their own benefit but instead actually wants to be with us. Even if all that means is sitting beside us just to hear what we have to say.

We get tired of being charmed and disarmed by the oh-so-casual Wickhams and then tossed aside when it’s convenient for them. We get tired of wasting our time as their source of amusement. And then being ignored when it suits them. Because, to a Wickham, we’re a tool to be used and discarded and not a person in our own right.

So when we get to that point, when we’re tired of the superficial charm that we keep finding, how do we start discarding the Wickhams in favor of holding out for our Darcy? Or, as a radical idea, for no one at all if that’s what we choose?

1. We can let them be the ones to put in the effort.

I don’t mean that we should play games. We should be direct and honest regardless of how anyone else chooses to act. But maybe we should dial back the texts and phone calls. Maybe we should let them come to us, and if they’re interested, they will. We should let them plan the dates, pay for them, and generally show some basic respect for us as individuals.
We don’t ever chase after them or check in on them when they don’t bother to contact us.

2. We can stop giving them a break.

We could stop accepting their lame excuses for inconsistent contact and acknowledge that people do what they choose to do. So if they aren’t texting, it’s not because they’re deathly ill or have some type of legitimate issue. Believe me when I say they answer the phone calls and texts that they want to answer.

So when they show a pattern of inconsistent contact, we might want to consider writing them off  rather than endlessly forgiving the basic discourtesy of ignoring us whenever they like.

3. We can withhold sex.

First of all, let me say that this idea hurts. I don’t really believe in punishing myself for someone else’s behavior, and I don’t mean that we should use sex to manipulate anyone. Instead, maybe we should take sex off the table and see if they stick around. Do they want to get to know us or do they just want to use us? Well, there’s only one way to find out.

For those of us with healthy attitudes regarding sex, this may seem counter-intuitive, but these types of men (or women) don’t have healthy attitudes about sex. They’re typically immature, which is why they don’t communicate honestly about their intentions. By taking it off the table for a while as an option, we can see how genuine they’re being. Or it may force them to reveal their true intentions.

4. We can acknowledge the patterns in their behavior.

Sometimes the charmers of our world show who they are early on, and we aren’t paying attention. We’re just enjoying the attention. Maybe they spend time checking their phones when they’re on a date with us, or they’re secretive about what they do when we’re not around. Maybe they never, ever answer the phone when we call or only call at odd times of day. They won’t care to introduce us to family and friends and will rarely acknowledge us on social media. They’ll have excuses to not update their relationship status. There are patterns if we’re paying attention, and we can start cutting our losses when we see them.

5. We can start giving Darcy a chance.

There are guys out there who may not have smooth lines like a Wickham, perhaps because they are not completely full of sh*t. These are the genuine guys, the good guys. And I’m not saying nice alone is a qualifier because attraction and chemistry are important factors, but they may not be the ones turning our heads with all of the superficial attention. They might be shy or maybe they only speak when they have something of value to say. They may not have the polish of a Wickham, but they are certainly more loyal and steady.

What kind of man is a Darcy?

A Darcy is the man who wants to know us, who wants to be around us for the pure joy of being in our company. A Darcy will let us cry on their shoulder without running away like a Wickham will when faced with true emotions. A Darcy will be consistent because he values that, and he values us. A Darcy will do whatever it takes to be with us, and he’s not going to hit the door because we took sex off the table for a minute. This is the man who will be happy just to hold our hand or to proudly proclaim his relationship status. This man wants us to meet his family and friends and will always be proud to have us by his side.

I love Pride and Prejudice, obviously. And I’ve always identified with the independence of Elizabeth Bennett. I’ve just had the opportunity to look at my dating history to clearly see how many charmers I’ve wasted my time with, and I’ve finally reached that place where I’m done.

Sure, they’re pretty, and they talk a good game. We want to believe they are genuine men with good intentions. But they just aren’t. And pretending they are only hurts us in the end because a Wickham is never hurt by our disregard and will remain unaffected by our feelings.

And our only choice isn’t just to seek out a significant other. Jane Austen herself lived a full life without ever marrying. She was truly independent, and I’m sure a Wickham or two came around in her lifetime. We are already complete in ourselves, and we don’t ever need to feel less than because of our single status.

But if we do choose to be a part of a relationship, we have to decide how we want to spend our time. We can chase the charmers, make excuses for them and stay frustrated at never feeling valued. Or we can stay open to finding a good man (or woman) or just enjoying our alone time, knowing that being alone is always better than being with the superficial liar who is only looking out for himself. We can continue to make better choices and learn to kick the Wickhams to the curb before we find ourselves attached and hurting for it.

We can continue on our path, seeking out authenticity in all of our encounters and acknowledging that charm alone just isn’t enough for our beautiful souls.


Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: suyueinoue/Flickr

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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