Jane Austen's Dating Do's and Don'ts

English novelist Jane Austen may have lived in a bygone era, but the love lessons she wrote into her books are timeless. What dating rules would her character Emma Woodhouse follow today? How about Anne Elliott? In her book Jane Austen's Guide to Dating, author Lauren Henderson breaks down the do's and don'ts ‑- and offers up some tips on recognizing if you're with the right guy.

Friends Don't Always Give the Best Advice


  • Listen to your own inner voice. If a man looks great on paper, but there's simply something about him that doesn't work for you, don't force yourself against your instincts into dating him. It will never work out.
  • Learn to trust yourself. If a man seems too good to be true, he probably is. Don't be so swayed by compliments or courtship that you deliberately blind yourself to faults of his that may mean the relationship has no future.
  • Keep yourself grounded. What really happens when someone sweeps you off your feet? You lose your balance and he's still standing up. Is that what you want to happen at the start of a relationship?
  • DON'T

  • Be overpersuaded by your friends. You're the one who has to date him, not them. Of course, your friends will be right if they try to put you off an addict, cheater or axe murderer. But don't be pushed into a relationship you don't feel is right for you just because your friends are keen on the person ‑- and don't break up with someone you like and who treats you well because he doesn't immediately jell with your friends.
  • Be self-destructive. Don't be so desperate for a relationship that you go against the healthy self-protective instincts that we all possess. Learn to listen to and be guided by them.
  • Be fooled by flattery. Be wary of someone who tries to overwhelm you with compliments. How did he get to be so good at that? By doing the same with a lot of other people. You'll end up just another mark on his well notched bedpost.
  • Spotting a Man Who's Not Looking for
    Long-Term Love

  • He will keep you off balance by being unreliable ‑- not calling when he says he will, canceling dates without much notice.
  • He won't introduce you to his friends ‑- he doesn't want you to feel the security of being part of his life.
  • He will talk about things you can do together in the future that, however, somehow never materialize ‑- if you bring them up, he will have an excuse as to why they're not possible right now.
  • He will try to rush you into bed with him before you're ready ‑- he may ask to come into your apartment every chance he gets, using an excuse like wanting a cup of coffee or to use your bathroom, hoping that he can seduce you once he gets you alone.
  • He will try to make you feel that you have a special bond with him very quickly, when realistically you know that you haven't dated him long enough for one to have formed.
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