6 Timeless Tinder Dating Tips From Jane Austen
Because, honestly, you need guidance from wherever you can get it.
Who better to help you navigate the digital dating abyss than 19th century author Jane Austen, the master of traversing the treacherous world of courtship. Though Austen notoriously never married, the women in her novels—from Elizabeth Bennet to Marianne Dashwood to Fanny Price—illuminate the pitfalls and elations of falling in and out of love in ways that can be applied to the trials and tribulations of modern dating.
Considering that Pride and Prejudice was published nearly 200 years before Tinder was founded, her romantic advice remains surprisingly solid.
The many book-to-film adaptations of Austen’s novels—Bridget Jones’s Diary, Clueless, You’ve Got Mail—are a testament to her relevancy in the 21st century. So, if you’re looking for a #relationshipgoals kind of romance, take these six Austen-inspired dating tips to heart when deciding whether to swipe right or left.
1. First impressions matter, but they aren’t everything.
I won't waste your time here, we’re both busy; so I’ll get the obvious tip out of the way first. Learn from Elizabeth and Darcy’s mistake and avoid making a snap judgement about someone the moment you meet them—either online or in person. As Austen demonstrates in Pride and Prejudice, there’s a lot more to someone than meets the eye. Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. Just imagine if Elizabeth had been successful in ghosting Mr. Darcey! God forbid.
“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”
-- Pride and Prejudice (Elizabeth about Darcy)
2. Don’t be too quick to judge someone by their photos.
Maybe rethink your swipe-with-prejudice approach. When Darcy first meets Elizabeth, he doesn’t think she’s attractive enough to captivate him. By the end of the novel, he’s head over heels for her. Leave it to Austen to remind us that true love is founded on mutual respect and admiration, not merely physical appearances.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
-- Pride and Prejudice (Darcy to Elizabeth)
3. Get to know your Tinder crush offline.
Even without the Internet, women in the 19th century fell prey to catfishing. Mr. Wickham appeared charming enough IRL to trick Lydia Bennet into eloping with him, and online dating has made it much easier for men to ensnare unsuspecting dates. If you’re tempted to attribute the unwise decision to Lydia’s naivety, remember that Elizabeth Bennet was convinced that Mr. Wickham was a stand-up guy, too. So get to know your new love interest offline to find out who they really are.
"There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of [Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham]. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it."
-- Pride and Prejudice (Elizabeth to Jane)
4. Trust your instincts.
I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t consult your BFF about your new flame, but don’t let a third party interfere. Case in point, Jane and Bingley in Pride and Prejudice. When Bingley’s sister and Darcy raise concerns about the match, Bingley is all too quick to take their advice to heart. Little do they know, Jane is just as crazy about Bingley as he is about her. Long story short, Jane was too shy to openly show her true feelings, and Bingley was too insecure to follow his heart. In the end, everyone realizes their mistake and the pair pick up where they left off—by getting engaged, of course.
“He is just what a young man ought to be, sensible, good humored, lively; and I never saw such happy manners! -- so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!”
-- Pride and Prejudice (Jane about Bingley)
5. Measure your expectations.
Sense and Sensibility’s Marianne learns this the hard way. Marianne falls hard for Willoughby, who seemingly meets all her requirements for the perfect mate. When she finds out that he’s not such a great guy, she’s totally crushed. Once she puts aside her unrealistic expectations, Marianne is able to fall for Colonel Brandon, a man she’d previously written off as an undesirable bachelor. Sometimes it’s about taking a step back and reevaluating what’s really important to you in a potential partner.
“I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in every point coincide with my own. He must enter into all my feelings; the same books, the same music must charm us both.”
-- Sense and Sensibility (Marianne on her requirements for a man)
6. Be patient.
Finding the right person can take some time. Stay the course like Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price, and you’re sure to meet someone who’s worthy of wooing you. Though, I’d like to suggest not being quite as passive as Fanny while she waited for her cousin Edmund (yep, different times) to get over his infatuation with Mary Crawford and realize his true love for Fanny. But do recognize when someone needs their space and give it to them. After all, dating is just as much about finding yourself as it is about finding someone you love.
“I only entreat everybody to believe that exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny as Fanny herself could desire.”
-- Mansfield Park (narrator)