Use the internet to start an Austen-esque romance!

By: Lottie Williams |

Online Dating

The art of correspondence has been relegated in recent years to poorly spelt instant messaging and expressing emotions through emojis. While this is fun and certainly more convenient, it hardly encourages people to appreciate language or practice mature, honest communication. Nor, for that matter, does it teach people, especially young people, how to properly voice their emojis. Imagine 20 years ago, if you asked your friend or family member “What’s wrong” and just got a picture of an angry face in return. How are you supposed to learn or develop from that?

The loss of eloquent communication has also been lost in the world of romance. I don’t think I need to point out the hideous crassness of an eggplant emoji or those three words every girl wants to hear – “send me nudes”. And people wonder why the “honeymoon” phase is over so quickly, being replaced by arguments and petty squabbles, more often than not arise due to poor communication!

Maybe if the foundation of your initial courtship wasn’t expressed in monosyllabic, suggestive texts, you’d have a better understanding of each other and encourage one another to be candid and vocal about your feelings, rather than jumping straight into frustration because neither one of you knows how to have an actual discussion. Since an instant message can not convey tone, or body language, or the type of chemistry you only get when face to face, the more expressive you can be in what you write, the more you can recapture some of those elements otherwise lost in digital dating. 

Why not use online dating to go a little old school? Pick up classics like Dangerous Liaisons or anything written by Jane Austen – who wrote thousands of letters in her life – and see how much of the story and the character relationships were formed through intimate, thoughtful correspondence. When you find a particularly alluring “swipe”, perhaps you could entice them into a mutual exchange, not of messages, but e-letters. The other drawback of instant messaging is the expectation of instant availability. How many interesting things can you discuss, how would you ever even miss each other, if you’re on WhatsApp all day, every day. You could agree to exchange one or two “letters” a week, max, but really go to town with your stories and how you describe yourself.

This way, you can experience that element of old-world mystery and romance, without sacrificing the convenience aspect. Plus you’ll indirectly discover if they’re the literary or loquacious type, not to mention get a good sense of their sincerity. No man or woman who likes you in earnest is going to be fed up by the prospect of writing to you, not unless getting to know you wasn’t what they were prioritising when reaching out to you in the first place. Not to mention, it can be a pretty good toxic-masculinity, or femininity, barometer. A so-called “man’s man” is unlikely to value emotional conversation or be willing to show vulnerability. While toxic femininity comes with its own difficult or unwelcome behaviour, since, no different to toxic masculinity, it’s about self-destructive behaviour that’s connected to being seen as feminine. 

And feel free to get creative! Send song lyrics you enjoy, book excerpts or poems – seriously, who sends, or writes for that matter, poems anymore. Yet back in the day, that was THE way to express affection. 

And just think, if it works out, you’ll actually have an interesting story about how you met. Once upon a time, meeting someone online was quite a novelty, but these days, it happens every single day. When looking back on your love story, do you really want to say that it all began with a right swipe? Or do you want to say that you exchanged a series of intense, romantic letters that helped you form an amazing bond before you ever even saw each other for the first time.