I'm once again going to say how much I admire Charlotte Lucas and the wonderful support and friendship she and Elizabeth shared.
Friends support friends; it's really that simple.
In the 2005 Pride & Prejudice adaption, Mr. Bingley encouraged Darcy to ask Jane's sister Elizabeth to dance, pointing out the devastatingly obvious fact that she was "very agreeable." (Keira Knightley and Rosamund Pike--are there two more agreeable women in the world?) Darcy, as we all well know, declared Lizzy to be "barely tolerable," but of course not handsome enough to tempt him: "You'd better return to your partner and her smiles. You're wasting your time with me." As we Austen Aficionados know, the 2005 adaptation showed Elizabeth and Charlotte overhearing this little exchange at the ball.
But did Charlotte ever forsake her friend? Of course not!
"Count your blessings, Lizzy. If he liked you, you'd have to talk to him." Screw that guy.
"Precisely. As it is I wouldn't dance with him for all of Derbyshire, let alone the miserable half."
I don't think I can say enough good things about their friendship. It's not always easy to lift friends up and lighten the mood in the way that Charlotte did in that scene. Granted, Jane Austen herself didn't write it in, but I still think there's merit in acknowledging it.
Recently, a friend of mine was going through her own forever-alone spiral--I myself have had many in my time (and will probably have many more to come--I just have to go with the odds). And it doesn't matter how often it happens to you, when it happens to your friend, you never quite know how to react.
Am I going to end up alone because I'm too focused on my career? What if I never find someone? What if I wrote off the guy who could've been the one that I married?
My only way to respond to this is to tell her that everything happens for a reason. Look at Elizabeth and Darcy. They weren't a love match when they first met. But over time, they changed and softened, eventually finding a love that has prevented me from forming any sort of normal, healthy attachment with any guy (ever).
Obviously, I want to tell my friend what she wants to hear. And that's not always untruthful. My friend is pretty and smart and interesting and does have a lot to offer someone. She's fantastic; it's why we're friends. And I believe whole-heartedly that she absolutely will find a guy to spend the rest of her life with. It is unfathomable that someone so great will end up alone. But I also want to make sure that I'm not telling her all the annoying things people say to me when I'm single-and-alone spiraling.
- Don't tell a spiraling single girl that she doesn't give people a chance--that makes her feel like she maybe already met "the one" and didn't give him the time of day; basically, it's your own fault your single (so quit bitching).
- Don't tell her that of course she's going to find someone someday, and everyone will be super jealous of her and her adorable boyfriend. My friends say this to me and it's super annoying. It's not that this won't ever happen. It's just that a spiraling single girl doesn't like to be reminded (in the heat of singledom and already down one carton of Blue Bunny rocky road ice cream) of what she wants and doesn't have.
- Don't remind her of all the guys she nitpicked out of her good opinion--no one needs to relive the past. That's why it's called "the past."
- Don't convince her that "she could have been happy with him, when it [is] no longer likely they should meet." Never spiral and dial. Never. Just let it lie, please.
The one thing you should do? Encourage her to remember this feeling and this instinct, because it will help her make more informed decisions about what she truly wants. Someday, she'll meet someone that makes her forget all of her single-girl spirals; someone who not only puts up with her craziness, but revels in it. Boys aside (because suitors do in fact come and go), my friends have always been my one constant. And every time I start to self-doubt, they're right there, ready to knock some potentially harsh, but much-needed sense into me. So again, I have to repeat the fact that we all have a lot we can learn from Charlotte Lucas. We all need a friend like Charlotte Lucas.