There are worse people to be, I suppose. (Spoiler alert: she gets a happy ending). That being said, I think I and every other woman who has read Pride & Prejudice fancy themselves to be a strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet, a take no shit and fend for yourself and love will find it’s way type of girl. Recently, my cousin admitted to having a hard time showing affection for someone she was romantically interested in and I scoffed and called her a Jane Bennet (For context: Jane doesn’t show her affection well and so her love interest is persuaded to believe she’s not interested, loses hope on her and leaves). Now I’ve admitted that I have a problem with Self-Sabotaging Romance opportunities. But, three days later, I have realised, as it turns out, I am also a Jane Bennet.
Last time on my Carrie Bradshaw series I wrote about how I’m not sure where the line is drawn between getting to know someone and leading them on. Now, I know my experience with Tinder dating is limited, but let me put it this way: I went on a date that wasn’t horrible and/or incredibly awkward. I thought he was sweet and cute and I wanted to get to know him more. So naturally, I then played aloof and cool and pretended I was waaaaaaay more disinterested than I was just… because? I think people do this in all walks of life though, but I will say it’s especially apparent in dating.
A lot of times we’re taught to be ‘too cool’ for certain things, and my habit of catastrophizing all dating scenarios has taught me to be too cool to show any kind of romantic interest in anyone ever because I: A. fear rejection, and B. fear having to reject someone if I change my mind.
So. My friend (/cousin/penpal) is a big time Jane Bennett. She holds her feelings close to her chest, always has, and is trying to break out of the habit. I told her (previous to my Tinder date), to just send little signals, touch his arm when you’re saying something or laughing at something, just little things that suggest that you’re feeling something more than platonic feelings to them. Then I went on my date and I promptly also treated the entire situation as a total and utter Jane Bennett.
Then I told her what I had done and I couldn’t understand why. I’m pretty comfortable at self-expression. I’m rarely embarrassed by my feelings because I have so many, but it’s strange when it’s with someone you don’t know, and you don’t know what they’re feeling or what you’re feeling. After being pretty indifferent about the date initially, I realised I wanted to see him again, and I didn’t want to wait for him to ask me out, and I wasn’t sure that he would, so I asked him. We went out again and AGAIN I Jane Bennett-ed the situation. Not one arm-touch.
Give me some credit as it was only the second time I had met him ever, so I don’t feel like it’s necessarily sending the message that I didn’t show an explicit romantic interest, but at the same time I’m kicking myself because I really did have such a lovely time and I really do have an explicitly romantic interest in him now. And I’m not sure that he knows that. Because I didn’t. Touch. His. Arm. Ugh.
More often the scenario is this…
You start dating someone you vaguely already know. You’re in the so-called ‘ambiguous’ area where you’re seeing what dating that person is like. You get to the point where you’re into them, you know you’re into them, and yet they refuse to make a move. They go on date after date, you have a great time, and there’s not a single hand hold, kiss, arm-touch (I’m taking the arm touching too far now but I think it’s funny). Then you get to the “ok well what are we doing here?” point in the relationship. Are they not interested? Or worse, do they want you to be the one to make the first move?
Why I refuse to make the first move…
This may be TMI. But I have made this mistake before. I have gotten fed-up waiting for a first kiss, and made the first move, thus placing myself (apparently) into the dominant slot in that relationship dynamic. If that is the position you would like to be in, well done for you, however, it is not the position I want to be in. I don’t mind if we have a more equal give and take, but I don’t want to set some sort of sexual standard by making the first move. I want to be woo-ed. Please, dear lord, make me swoon. It doesn’t take much, I swear. Now I know this is a rare situation and nine times out of ten it’s completely fine to be the first person to make a move, probably they’re just too nervous and once it’s done they’ll get more comfortable and everything just flows normally. However. Given my past experiences with this scenario, I now refuse to be the first kisser.
In sum: I’m playing indifferent and aloof even though I’m not, and I refuse to make it up to them by kissing them. So arm-touching and hand holding is all I’ve got I guess. We’ll just see if there’s another date, and if on said date I feel like it’s okay for me to make one of those moves. Seemed too soon on the second time meeting someone? For some reason I’ve bought into the third date rule (that a third date is usually when it’s like, alright we’re committed and interested in each other enough to go home together), and here I am (maybe) going on third dating with the “Ok so is it okay if I touch his arm?” outlook. Such a Jane Bennett. Someone send help.
PS. We are now at the fifth/sixth(?) date, and I touched his arm enough that he finally kissed me (I did also tell him I wanted him to kiss me). Does this mean I’m over my Jane Bennett phase? Do we just need to get past it or break the ice and then it goes away? Is this a persistent problem for any of you?
PSS. We’ve been dating for months. I’m coming back to edit and update the SEO of this post, but I thought I’d let you know he read this and he still didn’t kiss me. Men are unbelievable.
Feel free to browse around my ‘Carrie Bradshaw Series’ to read more about my qualms with romance.