The Modern Accomplished Woman…Has Positive Relationships

This post is the third in a series dedicated to updating Jane Austen’s “accomplished woman” to create a definition more fitting for the modern world.  You can read the earlier posts here and here.

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

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  1. Laura says:

    I think that today, having “good connections” is still important to a lot of people. Not so much for marriage per say but, we still want to know people that can help us. I think that nowadays, it has more with getting ahead-landing jobs etc. It is true that to get your foot in the door it has a lot to do with “who you know”-those connections!
    I’m sure that was true back then as well but perhaps not so much for women as men. However, I do seem to remember in Mansfield Park, Henry Crawford got Fanny’s brother a good position in the navy.

    I don’t have a lot of close friends-maybe 2 but I value them very much. 🙂


  2. sarah beals says:

    Very true. And a true friend will tell you your faults so you won’t continue in a ridiculous manner. My most cherished friends are those who love me enough to tell me something negative about me, and those who have worked through my junk with me. 🙂
    Also, relationships do not have to be perfect to work, I agree. But spending lots of time with toxic people can be draining and unhealthy. We do tend to become like the people we spend lots of time with.
    And I have found that if I am trying to improve in an area of character, I politely distance myself from those who practice the same thing. Years ago, I realized that I struggled with gossip, so I had to make a fence around myself, so that I could overcome that, before I stepped back into big chunks of time with people who are okay with that. The old saying…”If you are trying to give up drinking, you don’t hang around the bar. “:)
    Great article, and so happy about your appearance on Money Saving Mom! YAY!

  3. Niki says:

    Found you through your Stuff Christians Like link. Loved your blog…so much that I am now a follower here and on Pinterest. Can’t wait to keep up with you…and read more!!

  4. Zoe says:

    Appreciate this post and whole heartedly agree! I co-write for a blog with one of my long-term friends where we are regularly working out how to do relationships, especially long distance ones. (

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