The fairy tale behind Jane Austen’s P&P

I’m always amazed at how I never get sick of  Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.  I should, but I don’t.  I know there are people out there who are not part of the Jane Austen band wagon.  To be honest, part of me is jealous that they are free of whatever it is I seem to be addicted to.  And, addicted I am.  Although, I think I’ve finally figured it out.  I’m not entirely cured, but at least I can now identify the root of my P&P desire.

Jane gave her 21-year-old character, Elizabeth, the heart and mind of a late thirty year old woman — I’m addicted to the fairy tale.  What 20-year-old woman is immune to the bad boy?  A large percentage of us make the Wickham mistake.  The rest of us fall prey to a comfortable home and nice guy that seems to love us in our later 20′s/early 30′s.  Elizabeth avoids both.  Don’t look at Elizabeth’s age, look at Jane’s.

I would be able to avoid both today, but I’m now 40.   “If I only knew then, what I know now.”   You learn that saying when you’re young, but living it when you’re older is a true bummer.   Welcome to fairy tale addiction.  I think true love is achieved in our 20′s through luck.  I think we are able to actively find it by our late 30′s.

What is Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth?  He’s the match, not the completion.  We’ve all heard it said that, “you complete me,” is NOT the right way to go.  Unfortunately, it’s like your parents telling you to always use cash and not your credit cards… don’t most of us suffer from revolving credit card debt of miscellaneous crap.  Usually, you have to live the mistake to really learn it.  In relationships, that leads us to our late thirties/early forties.

At any age, we are all Swiss cheese.  Big holes caused by past experiences or missing pieces.  Some holes are larger than others.  Our desire is to fill those holes in order to be truly happy.  How many of us ignored, “no one can make you happy, but you.”   Let’s face it, it’s usually  your grandparents handing down that lovely bit of advice.  No one wants to date themselves at any age — how unromantic!  When you’re young, you want romance to be quick and easy like a credit card.  It’s so easy to fill that hole of lack of self confidence with Wickham, or fill the hole of loneliness with Mr. Collins.  Cash is hard.  When you use cash you have to sit yourself down and ask yourself questions, “do I really need that,” “can I really afford that,” and the best, “If I spend extra money on this now, what will I not be able to afford later.”   (You never have to ask that question with a credit card. )  We can fill our own holes, it’s just a lot of work — “Is that really going to make me happy?”

The more you use cash the easier it gets.  Dating yourself has it’s advantages.  The more you understand what is important to you, the less lonely you are.  The more self sufficient you are, the more confident you are. Those of us who made the mistakes of youth, are in the cash system by our late thirties.  Go figure, Wickham and Mr. Collins didn’t fill the voids and make us blissfully happy.  We start beating out our own road to happiness, one hard question at a time.

Each question gets you closer to the truth of your heart.  When you reach the point where you can actually make yourself feel confident and not lonely, that’s when you’re ready for the MATCH.  I think everyone wants to share their life with someone.  But it’s the sharing a happy life, not depending on another for a happy life that makes it work.

And I believe that there are many Mr. Darcy’s out there.  Men who’ve learned through age, just like us, to look for the match and not the completion.  The best Hollywood romances are between adult characters.  Two characters rich with experience meeting and falling in love for the right reason –to have learned through time what will truly make them happy.

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