It’s no secret that society puts enormous stock in marriage and love–though Sex and the City certainly paved the way for the Samanthas of the world to choose to be single. As more and more women make that choice, our society hasn’t yet become completely comfortable with the idea of it being a choice. It’s like a single people are just half of who s/he could be with the right partner, like that sad cracked heart, the two halves together make a whole.
Not all of us are Charlotte Lucases–a women who defines her worth by whether or not she has a ring on her left hand. As someone very dear once told me, “I can fend for myself! I have not a paper heart!” I too am secure enough in myself to be alone. I have the fortunate advantage of truly knowing myself and knowing what I want in my Mr. Darcy.
How can you expect to feel comfortable sharing yourself with someone else, when you’re not even comfortable to be alone with yourself? At some point or another, a woman needs to be single, for her mental sanity. I wouldn’t have the perspective to be writing this right now if I hadn’t spent time alone, time to reflect with no male influence to sway me in my resolve.
I went to high school with such girls who could not be alone. If such a girl planned to dump her current boyfriend, she already had a new one on the hook before making the official change, without ever having to switch her Facebook relationship status back to “singe”. (Luckily for me, I don’t go around changing my status very often. What a hassle, right?)
These girls are modern day Lydia Bennets (or Mrs. Wickhams?)–a girl so silly that she chases after anything in a uniform and judges her self-worth by how many men she danced with at the ball. Because Mr. and Mrs. Bennet failed to check each of Lydia’s flirtationships, Lydia became the biggest flirt that ever made her family ridiculous.
In my opinion, being a Lydia Bennet is almost worse than finding a Wickham. (How ironic, the two worst characters found each other.) No one feels sorry for Lydia. She got herself into the mess that became her marriage, and was only partially extricated from complete social disgrace by strenuous exertions on Mr. Darcy’s behalf–yet another reason we should all look for Darcys, and not Wickhams.
To that end, if a girl wants to find her Mr. Darcy, she can’t go home with a Wickhams, and if ever I met a Lydia Bennet in my life, it’s my old friend Lily–who I met back when I worked the country club circuit. In the four years I’ve known Lily, she’s been single for all of one summer. It was the summer before her long-term high school boyfriend Max and her short-term douche canoe, frat-boy boyfriend Carl.
Lily always had a hard time being single. So while she didn’t officially “date” anybody that summer, she certainly passed more than a few nights with some randoms.
Two of those one-night-stands…stand out in my memory, because the two guys were roommates. How she even managed to pull this off without either of them knowing is beyond me, but we worked with both guys at our country club. She’d flirted with one, Alan, for a long time. He was tall, blonde, and a damn good bartender. And she knew I had a thing for the other one, Michael–shorter, easy-going, and well traveled. (Hooking up with Michael clearly violated girl code, but I got over it pretty quickly–I kind of had to.).
Ironically, this pattern continued when she first met her frat-boy Carl on the Halloween following her last single summer. She had been hooking up with this adorable pre-med guy before meeting Carl at a party, who just happened to be one of med-boy’s best friends. The timing is blurry as to when she ended things with med-boy and started up with Carl. Consequences from their fallout didn’t occur until the following Halloween when med-boy threw his drink on her and walked away, still pissed a year later.
In my opinion, med-boy had a right to be pissed. I think there’s a reason that Lydia Bennet doesn’t evoke sympathy from readers; it’s because she gets what’s coming to her. I love my friend, but that doesn’t mean I think her actions should have gone unpunished. And in typical Lydia fashion, she didn’t understand his anger, and never owned up to her mistake–or even acknowledgedit as a mistake.
Women need to find the balance between Charlotte Lucas and Lydia Bennet, between prudence and indiscretion. Though ironically, both women were very focused on finding a man, but for different reasons. Charlotte Lucas lacked a strong resolve to stay single until love found her, but I understand that—not everyone is a romantic. Lydia on the other hand fangirled over anything in a red coat, and constantly sought introductions by dropping her handkerchief (the 19th century version of the bend and snap). She demonstrated no inkling of restraint or temperance. What’s that saying? No one’s going to buy the cow if you give the milk away for free?
A woman needs the confidence to be alone until she finds the right man that allows her to truly be herself. Elizabeth Bennet refused two marriage proposals in the name of happiness, for she didn’t think she could be happy in either situation. (I still think she could’ve made Pemberley work, even if she wasn’t initially so inclined.)
If Elizabeth Bennet can openly dismiss a distinguished man of 10,000 pounds a year because there wasn’t yet any love in the union, surely we can show a fraction of the same resolve when it comes to turning away the unworthy–so that when you finally come across someone worth your time and attention, you won’t have any Wickhams in your past to be ashamed of.