"I had not known you a month before I felt that you were
the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed upon to marry."
—Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice
My friend Lucy worried a man of a different faith would frown on her beliefs. Lauren was waiting to feel just the right spark. And I swore I would never, ever marry a younger man. Yet, all three of us found love with the people we least expected when we learned to appreciate what was in front of us and give well-deserving guys a second chance.
Lucy, a progressive Anglican, met Fed, a deeply faithful Russian Orthodox Christian. Their principles seemed so different that they could never start a relationship. “I automatically assumed that people who had such beliefs were old-fashioned and misguided—and not ‘proper’ adults,” she said. But the more they talked, the more she valued Fed as a person, including his very different beliefs than hers. The couple has been happily married for two years.
Lauren’s friend set her up with Jeff at a square dance. Lauren wasn’t impressed. And when her friend showed Lauren his awkward sixth-grade picture, she decided Jeff wasn’t for her. Then Jeff invited Lauren out for coffee. Lauren explains that she was, “still uninterested, but impressed that he had ‘manned up.’” The two spent three hours talking to each other and never really stopped. Early this summer, they held their charming barnyard wedding.
I met Adam the first day of college. I liked him until I found out how young he was. I’d sworn I’d never date a younger man. For four months, Adam faithfully asked me out at least once a week. As we built a friendship together, I gradually realized I couldn’t live without him. Now, we’ve been together for nine years and just celebrated our third anniversary.
Our stories are very different, but the three of us share an important bond: Like Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy, we didn’t stick to our first judgments. Because we took a second look, we learned a few things.
First, all women can all dream about the "perfect man," but we should be open to the real men who come into our lives. Lucy, Lauren, and I didn’t settle—life showed us a bigger dream of what love and marriage can be than we imagined for ourselves.
Second, we learned that sometimes it’s worth it to give a good man more than one chance. There are times we can sense a man is bad news at first glance, but it’s hard to see all of a good man’s best qualities in a single sitting. If Lucy, Lauren, or I had denied our persistent men a second chance, we would have missed out on the love of a lifetime.
Third, sometimes the checklist in our head is an excuse to withhold love. If we were to start choosing to love each person that enters our lives, our hearts would grow and we would be better ready to identify the right man when he arrives.
So let Elizabeth Bennet's lesson be a lesson for all of us: Try to keep an open mind and have a little faith in the men who want to date you. You never know what you’ll find.
Photograph via bigbahookie on Flickr.