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Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge


In college, a male friend and I took a course on Jane Austen. Neither of us paid much attention, and he caught me off guard one day when we were working in small groups:

“So, what’s this one about?”

Our Professor was standing over our shoulder.

I hadn’t read it.


She moved on. Apparently, I had somewhat passed, even though he snickered, and continued to make fun of me for the rest of the semester, because as it turns out, all of Jane Austen’s novels pretty much revolved around engagements.

But that’s not such a huge surprise, since they all deal with courtship, and in the world of courtship, an engagement is bound to happen once and a while. And if it hasn’t yet, it’s going to be talked about. “Why hasn’t he proposed? / When is he going to propose? / He’s never going to propose!”

And then when he does pop the question…is it the “Yes, yes I’ll marry you!”, the awkward, “Can I think about it?” or the flat out rejection: “No,” or if you’re kind, “No, thank you.”

Engagements: A tricky business. That Jane Austen had her work cut out for her writing about them.

But I recently spoke with a friend, who was with a guy forever, and then had finally gotten engaged. We don’t keep in touch a whole lot anymore, but when I spoke with her, I found out that she broke off the engagement. I was a bit shocked at first, since they had been “perfect” for each, gone through that tumultuous time of fighting to be together, and then prevailed in the end, knowing that they would spend the rest of their lives together.

So I was not surprised to hear they were engaged and I was quite happy for her. So the breaking of the engagement came as a bit of a shock, but she explained it as she just wasn’t sure. She wanted to make sure she was at a point in her life where she was ready, and there was still a lot that she wanted to do, explore, and seek out. She hadn’t quite established herself, and she didn’t know she was ready for marriage. I thought that it was pretty brave of her, even though I did know she loved him very much, and I commended her for putting herself first and making that decision, because it was a hard one to do, but in the end, she will be much happier for it, and so will he.

I know she is not the only one in that situation, and it can be a difficult one to be in. But remember, engagements, and marriage, and even dating, are serious things. They are tricky, and complicated, but can be wonderful. But you have to take the right steps and be committed and know what is right for you, because usually that will be right for him too. If she didn't feel that it was right, then it couldn't have been. Only she knows, and if waiting, or seeing what else the world holds for her, is what she needed, then I hope she gets to it and starts exploring. She, and all you, deserve to be happy.


And perhaps her exploring will bring her back to her man. You never know? Maybe she just needed the time on her own to realize that.

When I took my Jane Austen class, it ended up being the running gag that “engagements” was always the answer. Anytime there was some sort of question on a worksheet or exam, my friend would go, “Hey Nicole, what’s the answer?” and I’d shrug and naturally respond, “engagements.” And of course everyone would laugh…and of course I got a D+ in the course. Whatever, I graduated.

But I have learned now that the answer is not “engagements.” That is, it takes time to know if you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, even if you’ve already spent a great deal of time with them. And for some people, it only takes an instant in their presence to know that they are meant to be together forever. The universe has a funny way of putting people together, but sometimes, it has a certain pace set for them. So remember not to rush things. Just go at the pace things are going. When you’re ready, you’ll know. Just enjoy the ride and be happy you are there. And if you ever get really bored, pick up a Jane Austen novel. My favorite is Northanger Abbey. Never really read all of it, but I think it’s about engagements.

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies is published every Sunday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Nicole Roberge. She can be reached at

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