It’s no accident that I’ve talked a lot about relationships here at Modern Mrs Darcy, nor is it surprising that many of the most popular posts on this blog cover this topic. I’ve said that being an accomplished woman today has to do with shaping a meaningful life, not with impressing people, and solid interpersonal relationships are perhaps the most important factor for a satisfying life.
Jane Austen herself talked an awful lot about relationships. Comments on the “quality of one’s connections” so pervade her novels that there was no need for the topic to be mentioned in the original definition of the accomplished woman. It was a given. Strong relationships–especially familial ones–are everywhere in Austen: Jane and Elizabeth, Elinor and Marianne, Emma and Mr. Knightley.
200 years later, having strong social bonds is still a major concern for today’s woman, even though how we define “quality connections” has shifted. Today, we’re not looking for wealth and status in our connections; we just want meaningful relationships! And today’s accomplished women have positive relationships.
What does this look like in real life? It can look very different for different people.
We all need intimate long-term relationships: people who know what we’ve been through, people we can share our secrets with, people who make us feel like we belong. And we all have more casual friends and acquaintances, some close, some not-so-much. But how many we have of each sort depends very much on our circumstances and our personalities. And that’s okay.
How do we go about making those relationships successful? Some people just have the knack of it. Others of us have to try a little harder.
It helps to be comfortable in your own skin. Eliminating self-consciousness and competition goes a long way toward forging strong relationships.
Some relationships are firmly embedded in our daily lives–spouses, children, parents, coworkers, roommates. But other relationships require proactive effort or they’ll fade away, and we have to guard against letting relationships fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent. Close friendships are seldom urgent, but they are crucially important.
And finally, remember that relationships don’t have to be perfect to be successful.
Do you agree that the definition of “well-connected” has shifted over the years? How do you maintain your close relationships in your own life?
photo credit: flickr user wickenden