How to Solve Your Austen & Bronte-Style Relationship Problems

Posted by Margaret Dunham

Marianne, NO! He's just a handsome, young, strapping jerk.

Every relationship has trouble. Period. Even the happiest, loving, most meant-to-be pairings have obstacles and tribulations try them.

But if every relationship has challenges, how can you tell if you’re trapped in a hopeless affair? Embroiled in secret engagements? Being seduced for your fortune or ignored by a man/woman who loves you? Let’s keep an eye out for some of the biggest Regency Era love story SNAFUs:

Hello there. Mind if I brood at you? *stares*

The Heathcliff Conundrum
Sometimes there is a fine line between love and obsession. And sometimes you’re dating a Heathcliff. Love ties us to the people in our lives who help teach us who we are. It doesn’t prompt grave digging. If you feel like you’re losing yourself in love, or think your lady or gentleman might be, suggest activities you both do solo. Devote yourself to something you value and you'll continue to become yourself, instead of morphing into a creature only known as X's boyfriend/girlfriend.


To: Prejudice From: Pride Subj: Be alarmed not

Lizzie, Darcy, and the Lack of Communication
What you say matters, but what you do matters more. These two start off insulting each other and brooding, and only start to respect one another once they speak plainly and begin to act on their feelings. Saving disgraced little Lydia? Protecting Georgiana from shame? These are the acts of people who care. The lesson? It’s best to admit your feelings plainly, and act on what you think is best. Avoid getting caught in the talking-behind-their-back trap, and stop obsessing over what people think.


"Remember that time I dressed up as a Gypsy woman? That wasn't weird, was it?"

Jane, Rochester, and the Triumph of Thinking Things Through
There are a lot of great lessons to learn from these two, but probably the most useful is to listen to yourself and know your own mind before making a judgment call. We spend a lot of time in Jane’s head as she debates her choices, and this process ultimately brings her more happiness than she ever expected. A simpler lesson could be "don't date someone still caught up in their crazy ex's drama" but that's a little on the nose.

"Emma, wasn't that a stop si—"
"I totally paused!"

Emma, Knightly, and the Trouble with Match-Making
f these two had been a mindful of their own thoughts and feelings instead of concerning themselves with the affairs of others first, then there wouldn't have been so much conflict and confusion. If you're too hyper-focused on the relationships around you, you might be ignoring something that you need to focus on. Remember to do an inventory of your own feelings now and then; they are bound to grow and change. Also, try not to play matchmaker unless someone asks for your help. Meddling in the love lives of others seldom ends well.

Who are your favorite pairings from books like these? What do you learn from these couples? Tweet us @QuirkBooks!