For as long as I can remember, everybody has always stressed “balance.” Balance your diet, fruits and veggies, Omega-3s, not too many artificial sugars. Balance your work and play, don’t spend the whole night buried in a book (unless it’s Pride & Prejudice). I’ve been able to grasp and integrate those balances into my life. So why is it that when my mother tells me to balance my expectations of love, my fantasy of Mr. Darcy with something more realistic, I simply can’t?
I’ve always had great expectations of love. I’ve watched friends settle for less-than-worthy men (sometimes even returning to known cheaters–the damn Wickhams of the world). Though to say so reeks heavily of bitterness,” Men are either eaten up with arrogance or stupidity. If they are amiable, they are so easily led they have no mind of their own whatsoever.”
But I’ve also seen my friends find great men, like Cassie and Aaron–a couple so mind-blowingly adorable that I can’t spend too much time with them for fear of falling in love with her boyfriend’s accent.
And then I read novels, and my expectations rise. The thing I’ve struggled to understand is this, novelists don’t dream up completely unfathomable scenarios–teachers always say, “Write what you know.” So why is it that people keep telling me I can’t find my Mr. Darcy? That he’s fictional.
Well obviously, he’s fictional. I’m not completely insane. But the character of Mr. Darcy wasn’t something that Austen just randomly dreamed up over night–he was the fictional version of her real-life love Tom Lefroy. (I highly recommend watching Becoming Jane, if I’ve peaked your interest on the matter. Available on Netflix.)
When I speak of finding my Mr. Darcy, I’m clearly not referring to the fictional man–I refer to a desire for that same level of love and adoration in a man, finding someone who would do anything to make me happy, even if his feelings may not be reciprocated. To find someone who embraces the best in my family and at least tolerates the worst–I have my own Lydia Bennet as a sister.
I’ve spent years trying to check my inevitable pickiness when it comes to guys–I think I’ve almost got it down to a science. I’m able to figure out almost from the get-go if there’s some random attribute that I won’t be able to get past. It’s really just easier for everyone involved if I cut it down early.–ironically, friendzoning guys has left me with very few actual male friends. But you know the only thing that comes from my pickiness? My continued singleness.
Around this time last year, I met an adorable ex-football player who proved totally dateable. I was up in the gym “just working on my fitness” (yoga) and he caught me off guard by walking over and goofily striking a sad excuse for a tree post. “Is this right?” I still smile to think about it.
We only hung out for a few weeks because it was the end of the semester, and I had to move back to Nebraska for the summer. He was graduating and transitioning into adulthood–so it wasn’t that I nitpicked him apart and tossed him aside, or that I got bored with him (which happens more frequently than I should admit). The timing was just off.
I actually ran into him a few weeks ago on a bus headed downtown. We picked up like we hadn’t not talked for 10 months. I even suggested we officially catch up and grab lunch sometime–turns out the timing is still off. He has a girlfriend. (The fact that he told me this outright made it that much more of a bummer. He’s a really good guy.)
This is my depressing dilemma. In all my time spent in college, I’ve only seriously considered dating one guy. I find this so confusing, because I see cute guys everywhere I go. But it seems like once I get to know them, I find out they’re uneducated, shallow, vain, but just altogether not right. So how is a girl supposed to find Mr. Darcy if he keeps hiding from me?
Everyone keeps saying, “He’s out there,” but after x amount of bad dates, you really start to question his existence. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you really need to cast a wide net. I’m trying my hardest not to write guy off right away–but they really don’t make it easy.
I don’t understand why I can accept the flaws in myself and even in my friends, but when it comes to potential boyfriends, I seek a near unrealistic perfection? Contrary to what I’d like to believe, real life isn’t like a romantic comedy. I’m not a Jennifer Aniston, or a Cameron Diaz, or a Lily James (life goals though). So why do I think that “God Only Knows” will play over my happy ending, like in Love Actually.
Even if my life can’t ever actually be a rom-com, I remain determined that I can find my real-life version of Mr. Darcy. As much as I put him up on a pedestal, he had flaws just like anybody else–evident by the very title of the book.
The unique thing about people is that we all have different tastes. And a Mr. Darcy-type might not work for everyone. Personally, I need a quieter guy, because (clearly) I have a lot to say. If I–and the other hundreds of thousands–of Ausenites can embrace Mr. Darcy with all his flaws, surely I can do that with a real man?
I think it really boils down to allowing myself to be vulnerable, because if I break it off first for some small, picky reason, he won’t have the chance to reject me. Let’s face it, rejection sucks. So why not enjoy the initial fun part of dating before getting into the hard stuff, the potential heart-breaking stuff.
I can say that I’ve never been in love. This hasn’t been a conscious choice, as I hope I’ve accurately demonstrated above. I always find a reason to pull back, just when the guy is ready to push forward.
Sometimes, I wonder if I would even recognize my Mr. Darcy if he was right in front of me. I comfort myself with the fact that Elizabeth didn’t for about the first 3/4s of the book. I think that if the right man came along, my Mr. Darcy and no one else’s, I would know it.