Is your romantic life feeling a little lackluster? Are you tired of searching for your
Mr. Darcy on Tinder? Do you find yourself wishing for the kind of sweeping love stories you find in books? Well... you might want to reread some of those books, because fictional romances are usually a mess. People end up in loveless marriages, or they suffocate their wife with a pillow over a handkerchief-based misunderstanding. But if you're still looking for that kind of larger-than-life, literary romance, here is some tried and true dating advice from a few of your favorite fictional characters.
Now, to be clear, I'm not suggesting that you follow
all of this advice. Some of these characters are not exactly the best role models in the world. Romeo & Juliet is a great love story, for example, but I cannot quite advocate faking your own death as a solution to all your dating woes (even if your local friar thinks it'll be cool). Similarly, I do not condone moving across the country, changing your entire identity, or becoming a bloodsucking member of the undead in order to seduce your crush.
So here is some of the best and most questionable dating advice from some of the most loved and hated fictional characters:
Hermione was the only member of the Golden Trio who knew what was up when it came to dating. She was flirting with internationally famous wizard athletes at age fourteen. She waited until Ron was a mature young man who cared about social justice before making out with him. And she always gave solid dating advice, like when she explained to Harry how to talk to Cho:
"You should have said it was really annoying, but I'd made you promise to come along to the Three Broomsticks, and you really didn't want to go, you'd much rather spend the whole day with her, but unfortunately you thought you really ought to meet me and would she please, please come along with you, and hopefully you'd be able to get away more quickly? And it might have been a good idea to mention how ugly you think I am too."
Oh, Edward. So handsome. Such a poor understanding of boundaries. Edward would advise you to sneak into your crush's bedroom in the middle of the night and watch them sleep without their consent, although most federal laws would probably advise
against that particular expression of love. His patented move is to tell women "you are my life now," so they are flattered rather than horrified when he proceeds to control every aspect of their lives out of "love."
To pull of a romance like Heathcliff from
Wuthering Heights, you should probably marry someone you hate just to spite your ex-girlfriend. Then, once your ex-girlfriend dies tragically, spend a lot of time screaming at her ghost: "You said I killed you — haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe — I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always — take any form — drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”
Ladies love it when you run around on moors screaming at ghosts.
Katniss isn't here for any of this cutesy love triangle nonsense. Sure, she's got two hunky guys trailing around after her, but, as Katniss says, "I can survive just fine without either of them." She likes Gale and Peeta well enough, but she's not interested in being an object that they can fight over. Katniss's advice to all the other young revolutionaries out there would surely be: crush fascism first, worry about boys second.
Don't hide your wife in an attic, dude. Just don't do it. It's not going to work out well for anyone. I mean, I guess you can extend this to a metaphor about being truthful and not hiding your past from your partner... but also
literally do not lock your wife in an attic, even if you don't want to be married to her anymore. You should also make it clear to your future wife that she is your equal (even though you're keeping your previous wife in the attic): "'My bride is here,' he said, again drawing me to him, 'because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?'"
Hamlet's answer to everything is "monologue about it" or "fake being insane" or "put on a play in order to make my uncle uncomfortable." Where his girlfriend Ophelia is concerned, though, his advice is "get thee to a nunnery," which I'm going to interpret as, "whatever you do, don't date Hamlet or any other guy in his early thirties who is this obsessed with his mom." You can do better, Ophelia.
Mr. Darcy's advice is to
express yourself. Don't just stand around awkwardly at parties feeling richer than everyone else. Tell that smart and intelligent girl that you like her, even if you have actively tried to ruin her sister's life. And yes, it takes Darcy himself a long time to actually follow this advice, but he gets there in the end: “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.”
Hester Prynne wants you to stop worrying so much about what other people think of your love life (and, if possible, try not to live in early Puritan America). Just live out loud, whether that means a monogamous relationship with your husband or a one night stand with a sexy clergyman. And be honest when it comes to talking about your ex: "'Be it sin or no,' said Hester Prynne bitterly, as she still gazed after him, 'I hate the man!'"
Janie Crawford from
Their Eyes Were Watching God survives through three marriages — and only the third one is happy. I think it's safe to say that her advice would be not to give up on love, even if you have a pretty horrifying romantic past. And never, ever stand for double standards: "Why must Joe be so mad with her for making him look small when he did it to her all the time?"
Jay Gatsby's advice to you would probably be something along the lines of "become incredibly rich and throw hedonistic parties just so this one girl will notice you" or "devote your entire life to getting back together with your ex." But... I think we can go ahead and say that the ability to
move the hell on from an ex would have been a lot more helpful to Gatsby in the long run. Or, at the very least, don't be so obsessed with your ex that you fall down a flight of stairs: "He hadn't once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs." Images: Warner Bros., Giphy (10)